Shopping for a new Chrysler Sebring Convertible?
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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.
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.
- Choice of convertible tops
- Features such as navigation and Sirius
- Interior storage
- Real four-adult seating
- Slab-sided styling
- Cheap-looking interior
- Poor performance of four-cylinder versions