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Chrysler's new 200 faces stiff mid-size car competition

April 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mid-size cars are the bread and butter of the auto industry.

As part of Chrysler's post-bankruptcy makeover, their mid-size Sebring got freshened up and got a new name: the 200.

The biggest improvement is inside. The dashboard and instruments are all new and have a much more high-quality look and feel.

Under the hood is the option of Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6 engine. It's smooth and powerful, though not the most fuel efficient choice in the class. The base four cylinder engine makes the car feel more like a Sebring.

Even with the improvements, the 200's going to have a tough fight in a crowded field of good mid-size offerings, all of which do pretty well.

Through March, Toyota sold 77,000 Camrys. Honda's Accord is second with more than 71,000 sold, followed by the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu.

"This option is the most commoditized segment in the U.S.," said Chrysler spokesman Olivier Francois. "You can find good cars, but you may not find good-looking cars, cars that provide the sense of being special, the sense of luxury, the sense of driving something that is a bit different from the rest."

Chrysler, it seems, has new-found confidence. An all-new 300 is hitting the road this year. It's a major improvement over a car that was already pretty good.

A completely revised 200 will come along in a few years.