The Chrysler 200 and the Ford Fusion have been battling for midsize sedan supremacy since the new 200 arrived for 2011. Both vehicles offer many of the same amenities, but as you know, the devil is in the details, and the 200 proves that sometimes you can get more for less.
To the majority of buyers, price is a key factor. The 2011 Chrysler 200 starts at $19,245 while the Fusion starts at $19,850. A closer look at the details reveals an even greater advantage for the 200. The Fusion comes with a manual transmission while the 200 features a standard automatic gearbox. Add the automatic to the Fusion and you have to add another $900. Even in base trim, only the 200 offers heated exterior mirrors, larger, 17-inch wheels, external temperature display and steering wheel-mounted controls. The 200 also checks in longer, taller and wider than the Fusion, and boasts more front head- and legroom as well.
Both vehicles offer a four-cylinder engine. The Fusion’s 2.5-liter engine cranks out 175 hp while the 200 boasts a 2.4-liter mill with 173 hp. The more powerful 200 delivers 30 mpg while the Fusion can only muster 29 mpg. With wildly fluctuating fuel prices, drivers want the best fuel economy possible and the 200 delivers.
What happens if you bump up the trim level and put the 200 Limited against the Fusion SEL? The Chrysler again offers far more value from its $23,945 MSRP than the $25,300 Fusion. The 200 Limited features attractive 18-inch wheels while the Fusion SEL rides on smaller 17-inch wheels. Remote start, standard on the 200 Limited, is another option on the already higher-priced Fusion. When you look at options, the Fusion lacks the standard Media Center with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, DVD capability and 30GB hard drive that is available in the 200.
Four-cylinder power is plenty for most car shoppers, but what happens if you want to move up to the V6? Ford offers a 3.0-liter V6 with 240 hp, and also makes a 263-hp V6 that’s available in the $27,150 Fusion Sport edition. Neither Ford engine compares to Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which features 283 hp. Even with all that extra power, the 200 offers better fuel economy: 25 combined mpg compared to only 21 mpg in the V6 Fusion.
A good warranty is also an important feature to those considering a new vehicle. While Ford offers five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain protection, Chrysler’s powertrain warranty is up to 100,000 miles.
The Chrysler 200 consistently outclasses the more expensive and less impressive Fusion. With its more affordable price tag, comprehensive amenities and modern good looks, the 2011 Chrysler 200 is the top contender in the midsize segment.