As Matt mentioned last week, the fine folks at Chrysler chose us to participate in their “Blogger Game On Road Trip”, and I was Matt’s co-pilot. Our leg of the trip took us from Chicago (where we got to take in the NFC Championship game) to New Orleans, with stops along the way in St. Louis, Nashville, and Tuscaloosa. Over the course of 5 days, we logged almost 1500 miles in a brand new Chrysler 200, and saw parts of the country we had never been to before.
I was the primary driver on this trip, so I felt it appropriate to share my thoughts on the car. I’m also an auto enthusiast, so who better to talk about the car than me?
On Monday morning, we finally got behind the wheel of the Chrysler 200. Launched as a replacement for the Sebring, the 200 is competing in a crowded market, alongside the likes of the Camry, Accord, Fusion, and Sonata. (I can’t believe I’m including a Hyundai in this list, but the Sonata is pretty nice!) Heck, the new Focus might also be a contender in the mid-size market, as it’s grown in size (at least in pictures). But I digress.
The Chrysler 200 is quite a departure from the Sebring, at least visually. The best view is from the rear, which shares a striking resemblance to a $125K+ Aston Martin. Intentional or not, it’s going to get the attention of the image-conscious. Unfortunately, the rest of the outside styling is a little generic. Again, I think they were going for a DB9 look up front with the grille, but the headlights spoil the fun. And from the side, it’s pretty generic.
So I jump into the drivers seat, and take a few minutes to take in my surroundings. The first thing that gets my attention is the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. It’s amazing! The leather seats are pretty comfy as well. The dashboard is an improvement over the outgoing Sebring, but look hard enough and you’ll still find some carry-overs from the old car. The fancy analog clock (a styling element “borrowed” from Infinity) looks good, but was hard to read while driving. Thankfully, the navagation screen also displayed the time.
First impressions are important, but how did the car hold up throughout the trip? Very well! I’m assuming the car we drove had the 2.4-Liter I4 DOHC 16-Valve Dual VVT Engine (producing 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft torque), and not the 3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6 Engine (producing 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque). The car gave us impressive mileage (averaging almost 30mpg), but I would have gladly given up some fuel economy for the additional power of the V6! 😀
My favorite feature of the 200? In-car WiFi. The 200 offers WiFi connectivity, so you can get on the Internet no matter where you are. So while I drove, Matt was hard at work on his laptop, making sure all of the sites were up-to-date. During the brief stint where he drove, I was able to get some work done, and upload a bunch of photos to Facebook. This is an amazing feature, and it’s the first auto maker I’ve heard of offering such a thing. I’m sure others will quickly follow suit.
But no car is without it’s fault, and the 200 is different. The navigation/media center was an exercise in frustration. The navigation system had some real issues in Chicago, which caused us to get lost for almost 30-minutes! Prompts to turn right or left were often given AS we were driving through the intersection in question! And as we were leaving Chicago on a major highway, the NAV told me I was on a dirt road. My iPhone running the MapQuest app did a better job of navigating me.
The Media Center plays CDs, DVDs, has a 30 GB Hard Drive (enabling instant replay!), and our car also had Sirius Satellite Radio. In addition to the Bluetooth Audio capabilities, the car also had 2 USB ports so you could plug in your phone or iPod. I plugged my iPhone into the USB port, pulled up the Playlist option on the screen, and the radio was able to see all of my playlists. SO much better than the limited functionality my current car offers through the USB port. It was amazing for the first hour.
But then we stopped to get gas. When I started the car back up, the media center screen said “Error Detected”. No matter what I tried, I could not get my iPhone to sync up with the car anymore. For the next 3 days, I tried to get it working again, to no avail. It was frustrating, as the Boston Acoustic sound system in the car was INSANE, to the point where I’m now shopping around to upgrade my current sound system..
So here are my final thoughts.. A step in the right direction for Chrysler, showing that they’re ready to compete in this highly-competitive market, and not get regulated to rental car status. Skip the navigation system (buy a TomTom for $100 if you need NAV), and spend that extra money on the V6 engine! Definitely get the Boston Acoustic sound system – The best $500 you’ll ever spend!
Loaded up, the car can get pretty pricey – So if you’re on a budget, choose your options wisely.
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that my time, travel and accommodations have been compensated by Chrysler Corp. for my participation in the Blogger Game on Road Trip campaign. Although I have a material connection to Chrysler Corp., any publicy stated opinions of Chrysler Corp. and their products remain my own.
The NFL is not sponsoring or affiliated with me, my trip or my postings.