New & Used Chrysler Sebring: In Depth
Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Chrysler Sebring 4-door Sedan TouringEnlarge Photo
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The Chrysler Sebring was replaced by the Chrysler 200 for the 2011 model year.
The Chrysler Sebring is currently a four-door sedan and also a two-door convertible. In the past, the Sebring's also been a two-door coupe--and in the near future, the Sebring may be disappearing entirely from the company's lineup.
In its first generation, the Sebring nameplate was applied to a two-door coupe that effectively replaced the Chrysler LeBaron. Based on a Mitsubishi platform and essentially identical under its skin to the Dodge Avenger, the Sebring offered a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, and of manual and automatic transmissions, all sourced from Mitsubishi. The coupe was assembled at the Illinois plant formerly shared between Chrysler and Mitsubishi, now wholly owned by the Japanese automaker.
Chrysler also applied the Sebring badge to a two-door convertible built at one of its Michigan plants. This rounded, handsome ragtop shared its mechanicals with the Chrysler Cirrus sedan and continued Chrysler's race with the Ford Mustang for the title of best-selling convertible in America. Four- and six-cylinder engines were offered, and though handling wasn't sporty, this Sebring convertible had a reputation as a fair value and as one of the more roomy five-passenger convertibles on the market.
For the second generation of Sebring, from 2001-2007, Chrysler adapted the convertible to a new platform that also spun off a Sebring four-door sedan--while the coupe, confusingly, remained a Mitsubishi-engineered, Mitsubishi-built product. The sedan replaced the Cirrus, and was considered a better-looking, better-finished successor that never quite reached the sales success it might have. Competing with the likes of the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, the Sebring sedan offered the usual four- and six-cylinder engine options. It fared poorly in crash tests. The companion convertible Sebring had its styling refined as production moved alongside the four-door in Michigan, but mechanically it received few major changes, with four- and six-cylinder engines still on the docket. The coupe, meanwhile, largely carried over its rather pretty proportions but was styled to resemble its counterparts a little more closely, even though it still was built at a separate facility on a distinct platform shared with the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
The Sebring coupe disappeared after the 2007 model year, and the convertible skipped the 2007 model year. In 2008, Chrysler introduced a new pair of Sebrings: a four-door sedan and a two-door convertible with either a soft-top or a power-folding hardtop. The two cars are built alongside each other in a Michigan plant and share much of their powertrain and front suspension pieces, but are very different otherwise. The four-door sedan emerged with a controversial style that included ribbing down the hood; the convertible was reviewed as blocky and less attractive than the ragtop it replaced. Dynamically, both cars were considered mediocre, with the convertible singled out as bouncy, sluggish and poorly finished.
Today's Sebring is headed for extinction, as Chrysler's new alliance with Italy's Fiat Group will bring a replacement sedan in the 2011-2012 time frame. Today's sedan received some minor changes for the 2010 model year--the strakes on the hood were flattened--but the Sebring remains near the bottom of the mid-size sedan pack. The convertible remains awkward looking, and less satisfying than its ancestors.
The Sebring line now offers just two engine choices—: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; or an optional 3.5-liter, 235-hp V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. The four-cylinder feels coarse and unimpressive, especially in the convertible. The much more powerful V-6 brings a different, smoother character altogether, with a more responsive six-speed transmission and better refinement, but fuel economy ratings with the V-6 lag the competition, at 16 mpg city. Fuel economy is rated at 24/32 mpg for the four-cylinder. Whether in sedan orform, the Sebring isn’t very responsive or satisfying to drive, with the driving a touch worse thanks to pronounced body shake.
What the Sebrings do well is provide ample room and features for adults and kids. The sedan has good head room and a reasonably spacious back seat; the convertible's among the largest in its class, especially in back. The plasticky interior has been lightly retouched, but still feels disjointed and cheap. The convertible is again the worse offender: there's a vinyl-top edition meant for rental fleets that should be avoided by private owners. It's just too noisy. The fabric-top versions are quieter; we have our doubts about all hardtop convertibles and their long-term durability, and the large multi-piece hardtop available on the Sebring doesn't help its looks, either.
TheSebring gets mostly five-star ratings from the government for crash protection;, and it now earns top ‘"good"’ scores in every major category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), thanks to a new whiplash-averting front-seat design. Among the entertainment features that set the Sebring apart are a good navigation system, satellite radio, a hard-drive music-storage system, and a cooled glove box.