Photo Gallery: 2012 Chrysler 200 Convertible

When I drove the 2011 Chrysler 200 Sedan, I didn't not like it. (And, yes, the double negative was on purpose.) Which, I have to admit, was a bit of a surprise after the "to-do" at the Detroit News. That's not to say the car was perfect, but it definitely wasn't "a dog." And it definitely was better than the Sebring.

So, enter the 2012 200 Convertible, and the picture gets a little rosier.

At the beginning of the test week, I was skeptical. I didn't love the dark joints on the hardtop of the convertible. And it took me a couple days do get the driver's seat situated so it was comfortable. Then there was the cold and rain. But the sun came out, the top came down and I caught my groove. And, I have to admit, I more than didn't not like it. I think I can safely say I actually liked it.

The 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth. While the 200 has a nice amount of pep off the start, the car just doesn't quite have the oomph I wanted in passing gears. Though it delivers 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, it somehow felt ... less.

I was surprised by the interior quietness -- but I suppose that comes with having a hardtop convertible as opposed the ragtop. The interior was relatively well done and comfortable, and like the rest of the car, it grew on me as the test week wore on. In fact, my sister, who is notoriously picky (I love you, Jenny), flat out exclaimed not once but twice how much she liked the 200. Her fave feature: the analog clock on the center stack. Then she asked me for pricing. And, since she's thinking about buying a new car, I took that to mean she would seriously consider the 200 as a contender.

There were, however, a few things that were a bit off putting. The first is fuel economy. EPA estimates city/highway mileage of 19/29 mpg, which seems pretty good on paper. In actuality, I got about 20 mpg with combined but mostly highway driving. I'd like to have seen something in the mid-20s. Especially since I got higher fuel economy in the SUV I was driving the previous week.

The second thing I had an issue with: the slooooooowness of the top operation. I thought it was pretty cool that you could take the top down simply by using the key fob. But it took for-e-ver. And you had to hold the fob button the entire time. The up/down operation from inside the car is also slow, so you better hope you're not caught in a sudden downpour with the top down. In all, not a deal breaker, mind you. Just a little annoying.

The hardtop convertible is also the root of my last issue. The trunk lid was really darn heavy. Because of my petite size, I found myself struggling with getting the trunk open and closed.

All that being said, it's hard to beat a base price of $26,775 for a ragtop convertible. The test car was a Limited model and started at $31,570. With all the whistles and bells (navigation, hardtop, Bluetooth), the as-tested price was $35,485. Still a pretty good price considering all that's included.

Chicago-worthy rating: 8. Yeah, I bumped it up over last year's rating. The 2012 model just all around felt a little smoother. Plus, add in the $35K price tag that includes a hardtop convertible, and you now have a summer-fun car for cruising along Lake Shore that easily converts to a comfortable winter driver. Especially with those heated leather seats. The 200 is easy to drive, easy to parallel park and makes good sense as a city ride. It's pretty enough to impress people, but not so expensive you'd be afraid to park it on the street. Now if the fuel economy could just get a littler higher in realistic driving situations ...

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  • Undoubtedly, the source of many of your complaints is that the convertible is 425 pounds more than the sedan (for a 3.6, 2 tons exactly, compared to 3575 for the 3.6 sedan). Also, the Chrysler spec sheet is for the "base vehicle," so the retracting hardtop model probably weighs even more.

    Anyway, it might have been one thing when the Sebring was the only available convertible, but there are plenty of imports, now.

  • In reply to jack:

    i was going to say all 475 of those pounds must be in the trunk lid! :) and yes there are plenty of good imports, however they not only cost more for equal equipment but also cost more to repair. not to mention the fact that, off the top of my head, i can only think of bmw and volvo that have a hardtop 4-seater ... and both cost considerably more.

  • In reply to Jill Ciminillo:

    I was thinking of the VW Eos, but I guess that's only a two seater.

    Motor Trend (not my usual reading material) has an online list of convertibles, but doesn't distinguish hardtop or soft top ones on the list. Of course, the Chrysler comes in both.

    Most of the weight is in the chassis, to avoid cowl shake and the like from losing the rigidity of the top structure, and BTW, did this car combat that?

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