2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 15, 2008

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible takes two steps back in styling and no steps forward in handling or performance.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest road tests of the new 2008 Chrysler Sebring to write this comprehensive review. TheCarConnection.com’s car experts also drove the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible to be able to deliver a definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class and to help you decide if the Sebring Convertible is the right car for you.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible replaces one of the best-selling ragtops in America, and this time around it’s offered in three different versions: hard, soft, and vinyl top. Even with that choice, there’s no getting around the 2008 Sebring Convertible’s mediocre performance and cheap, plasticky interior.

Since it’s a convertible, the tops are the most important feature of the 2008 Sebring Convertible. The base vinyl top is intended mostly for rental-car fleets, where TheCarConnection.com recently sampled one and came away with a fairly positive view of the lid. It does what it needs to do--keep the elements outside and the cabin fairly quiet--but from the outside it looks unattractive, compared with the nicely stitched fabric top offered on mid-level Sebring Convertibles. Like the vinyl top, this one’s power-operated and can be lowered at the touch of the keyfob. When either top is lowered, the soft-top Sebrings sport a clean shoulder line as a result.

The three-piece hardtop, engineered by Germany 's Karmann, also features keyfob operation. It arguably cleans up the Sebring Convertible’s lines, but editors find the car’s lines among the least attractive of convertibles on the market. It’s a slab-sided shape with an odd tail and a dowdy stance. Compared to the relatively hot-bodied Pontiac G6 Convertible, it’s frumpy.

Review continues below

Inside, the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible is a messy affair, particularly in the base version. Unattractive plastics, some grained and some colored to look like metal, give the Sebring Convertible a high dash, unappealing textures, and hard corners where knees and elbows should rest comfortably. The upscale versions fare a little better, but in no way is the Sebring Convertible close to the soft, sophisticated look of the Volkswagen Eos interior, a favorite among critics.

A pair of powertrain options gives the Sebring Convertible some performance range, mostly low. The 173-horsepower four-cylinder is mated to an automatic transmission and musters 23/31 mpg but is sluggish in nearly all driving modes, freeway or city. The 235-hp V-6 option is teamed with a six-speed automatic; it's markedly quieter and more pleasant but just not enough for a convertible nudging $30,000.

Handling is strictly average. Tuned for comfort, the Sebring Convertible doesn’t care to steer quickly and the body rolls to absorb corners instead of attacking them head-on. The conventional running gear includes MacPherson struts up front, and a multi-link suspension in back -- just like a BMW 3-Series on paper, but not in practice. The brakes are wired with anti-lock on all models along with stability control; side airbags are standard as well.

The virtues of the Sebring are what you’d expect from a big American cruiser. It’s a real four-seater and even the two adults in back will be reasonably happy with their seats, even with the top raised. The front buckets are comfortable, and there are plenty of features like Sirius satellite radio, an iPod jack, a navigation system and a 20GB hard drive for storing music.

Safety ratings are strong. The driver has four-star front-crash protection and the front passenger, five-star protection, according to the NHTSA. Side impact is five stars for front and rear occupants, and the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible rates four stars in rollover resistance.

5

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Styling

As Car and Driver said of the Sebring, Chrysler’s built a car with “a face only a manufacturer could love.”

Reviewers were split on the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible’s style. Kelley Blue Book has praise for it, describing it as “elegant,” noting its “egg-crate” grille and large headlights. NY Newsday acknowledges it as a "good looker," but has little to say beyond that. Mother Proof describes the convertible as "sharp looking," but felt as if the design was targeted at older drivers with its "large grill" and "boxy feel." Cars.com discussed the “lean lines” that “stretch the convertible,” adding that the two-door convertible did not have the “squatty look of the sedan.”

More opinionated sources had an active dislike for the Chrysler Sebring Convertible’s shapes. Jalopnik was highly critical of this vehicle’s styling, commenting that “it took a keen eye, some serious hallucinogenic substances and a love of the George Foreman Grill to make the already ‘fugly’ Chrysler Sebring even less fetching.” The Los Angeles Times wrote a scathing indictment: “It makes me long for the exquisite craftsmanship of the Pontiac flipping G6…and the Sebring Convertible is homely, too.” The rear end is “cantilevered gracelessly over the rear wheels,” as if “it's had unholy congress with an El Camino.”

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Sebring Convertible extensively and has similar opinions about the Sebring Convertible inside and out. The new body design is choppy, ungainly, and unattractive with any of the available tops raised in place. Inside, the dash is a mishmash of shapes and textures, with some lines going retro and others trying to carve a modern look. Edmunds considers the styling OK—they praise an “ergonomically friendly art deco design that says Chrysler Building more than Chrysler car”—but are equally let down by textures and materials that degrade the styling that actually does work.

6

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Performance

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible is an acceptable performer only with the V-6 engine—and even then, handling is far from crisp.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring’s standard four-cylinder engine is the company’s much-touted “World Engine,” which is used in several other vehicles, including the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Compass. While its fuel economy is acceptable, if not spectacular by today’s standards, the four-cylinder engine has some serious shortcomings. The 173-hp four-cylinder is mated to an automatic transmission and musters 23/31 mpg but is sluggish in nearly all driving modes, freeway or city. It’s the car that Chrysler sends to rental-car fleets, and to say it’s unentertaining is a vast understatement.

The pleasures of top-down driving aside, most sources agree that the 2008 Chrysler Sebring is significantly underpowered. ConsumerGuide acknowledged that the optional V-6 engines provide “ample power,” but this power gain is negated by a less-than-adequate transmission that shifts slowly and “harshly.” The 235-hp V-6 option is teamed with a six-speed automatic; TheCarConnection.com’s editors believe it’s markedly quieter and more pleasant but just not enough for a convertible skirting $30,000.

The four-cylinder engine may be adequate for sedan models, but it definitely struggles with the extra weight of the convertible. Chrysler recommends against using the four-cylinder Chrysler Sebring Convertible for towing; however, both V-6 versions are capable of hauling a payload of up to 1,000 pounds.

Cars.com notes that the Convertible weighs about 400 pounds more than the Sebring sedan, and the mass takes a toll. In terms of handling, the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible has a fairly smooth ride, but its dynamics pay a price for the convertible top. The steering has decent feedback, but Edmunds notes that “handling is also compromised by all that weight over the rear wheels.” ConsumerGuide noted some "body shudder" when driving the convertible over rough surfaces.

6

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible has mediocre materials and not enough rear legroom to make its case.

Reviews for the comfort and quality of the 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible were mixed, although none were stellar. Opinions ranged from “acceptable” to downright “awful.”

Car and Driver was "impressed by the interior materials," but most reviewers felt the Sebring Convertible’s trim left a lot to be desired. Edmunds.com describes materials as "below average, with cheap plastics and hard surfaces."

According to USAToday, while some individuals' physiques may find the seats "agreeable," the interior actually leaves a great deal to be desired; the front seats had an "uncomfortable bulge" on the back rests' lower edge, and the lumbar adjustment (always a bugbear in automotive seating) was incorrectly placed. Meanwhile, leg and knee room for backseat occupants was virtually nonexistent. Once the hardtop is down, it leaves almost nothing in the way of trunk space.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors found better comfort in the front seats—and actually noted a decent amount of headroom in the back. But backseat passengers don’t fare as well, as legroom for adults in the back is tight, and seating for three across is impossible. The mismatched, plasticky interior is the Sebring Convertible’s bigger problem; for a car that can exceed $30,000 quite easily, the Convertible’s trim and finishes look more like those in a $20,000 car.

9

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Safety

Those for whom safety is a primary concern will be quite satisfied with the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring comes up fair to middling in most other respects, but with the Sebring, Chrysler has spared no expense when it comes to safety features. Visibility from behind the wheel is excellent, and the anti-lock brakes included standard on all Sebring models have been rated superior to excellent by all sources except Jalopnik.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible comes with standard front and side airbags, as well as ABS. An electronic stability system is offered as an option with the convertible models. According to NY Newsday, this option runs $425. Also standard with the Sebring is the tire-pressure monitoring gauge. This not only assists the driver in maintaining safety but fuel economy as well, since a vehicle riding on tires that are underpressured can waste up to 10 percent of its fuel.

Safety ratings are strong. The driver has four-star front-crash protection and the front passenger, five-star protection, according to the NHTSA. Side impact is five stars for front and rear occupants, and the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible rates four stars in rollover resistance.

9

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Features

Those who like high-tech gadgetry and a high-quality sound system will find very little to complain about with the 2008 Chrysler Sebring.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible has all the high-tech features buyers want, and some usually found only on more luxurious convertibles.

Most reviewers were impressed with the Sebring Convertible's available sound and entertainment systems. Kelley Blue Book and other sources report that the base LX model includes a six-CD stereo and Sirius hardware. An optional audio system is available. Designed by Harman Kardon, the MyGIG system enables the user to download up to 20GB of MP3 files from jump drives or other portable media via its own USB port. It can be teamed with a “nifty voice-activated…navigation-and-audio system, which includes…available real-time traffic reports,” says Car and Driver.

The choice of convertible tops might be a boon for decisive buyers who know what they want. But USAToday found the mechanism can be temperamental. The paper reports that it’s necessary to pay close attention when raising and lowering the hardtop, as there is nothing to sense obstacles if something binds or something (or someone) gets tangled up in the mechanism. The top does allow the driver—via a keyfob button—to open and close the top without being inside the car.

Car and Driver notes that in case your beverage of choice gets too cooled by the wind or too warmed by the sun when driving the 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible, an optional “heated-and-cooled cup holder [is] capable of warming your latte to 140 degrees or chilling your soda to just above freezing.”

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September 19, 2016
For 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Worst car I've ever owned hard top.

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The car is beautiful, but drives and rides like a horse and buggy. Services dept. Has never been able to get it fixed invested over $4000. In the last year and only this car has only 54300.miles on. Sad
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July 15, 2016
For 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

This is a great car had it Krowned 3yrs ago and hope to keep it for a long time.

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I love this car i think it was well built but remeber this was when Diamler Benz was the bother to Chrysler i am second owner from the lady who ordered the car we found the orginal dealer invoice and it was... + More »
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July 13, 2016
For 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

One of the Best Vehicles I have ever owned.

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This car was built by Mercedes when they owned Chrysler. ..8 years old 107000 miles it has been very dependable good looking I have only replaced the brakes and the battery other than that nothing else.I am... + More »
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September 30, 2015
For 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Handsome white hard-top with light gray two tone leather interior.

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White hard-top with heated seats. Interior is near perfect and body too.Must have been garage kept. Sporty looking has many features with Satellite radio.
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Styling 5.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
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Features 9.0
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