2008 Chrysler Sebring Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring’s reasonable road manners and wealth of features are at odds with its ungainly looks and interior trim.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com read a wide range of reviews from around the Web to compile this conclusive review of the 2008 Chrysler Sebring sedan. To bring you more detail and better advice, as well as to help you decide where other reviews might differ, TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the 2008 Chrysler Sebring and used that hands-on experience and research to arrive at numeric ratings.

The Sebring offers three engine choices: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; an optional 2.7-liter, 189-horsepower V-6; and an optional 3.5-liter, 235-horsepower V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. Neither the four-cylinder nor the smaller V-6 has extra power to hand out, but it's the four-speed-only automatic that's a glaring, dated touch. Fuel economy is rated at 24/32 mpg for the four-cylinder, and 22/30 mpg for the 2.7-liter V-6. The more powerful V-6 gets a six-speed transmission and drones less at speed, while turning in 19/28 mpg. Most Sebrings are front-wheel drive, but an all-wheel-drive Limited is offered this year, for those who really need it.

In all versions of the Sebring, steering is direct if not razor-sharp, while the independent suspension is firm enough for a stable and secure feel during emergency situations and in tight corners. For a vehicle named for a racetrack, the 2008 Chrysler Sebring is mostly unengaging.

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Interior space is fine for four adults, though a bit tight for five. The backseats fold forward and open up to the trunk; the front passenger seat also folds flat for loading long objects inside the car. The plasticky interior is not wonderful to touch, but the controls are laid out logically.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring gets mostly five-star ratings from the government for crash protection, with four-star scores in passenger side-impact and rollover resistance. Side-impact and curtain airbags are standard across the line, but stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes are optional on some models.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring kills in available features. There's a Harmon Kardon information, entertainment, and safety navigation audio system with 6.5-inch touch-screen display, as well as a 20GB hard drive that includes a Music Juke Box interface for organizing music and pictures, as well as a USB connection for both MP3 connectivity and downloading of WMA, MP3, and JPEG files. A six-disc changer is standard on all models, as is Sirius Satellite Radio. Other standout features include an optional heated/cooled front cup holder that can warm beverages to 140 degrees or chill them to a near-freezing 35 degrees.

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2008 Chrysler Sebring

Styling

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring's styling finds few champions among auto reviewers.

The mid-size 2008 Chrysler Sebring is a distinct choice for shoppers who like its creased and decorated body, but for TheCarConnection.com's editors, the unorthodox styling puts it far below the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, and other larger sedans like the Ford Fusion.

Cars.com notes, “From the hood to the back, the Sebring has a number of different design elements in play. There's a strong crease in the side doors and an arcing C-pillar that descends into a stubby rear deck.” They add, “I don't find the Sebring especially attractive.” Autoblog calls the 2008 Sebring Chrysler "sedan just plain difficult to look at without flinching." Jalopnik is equally harsh, saying, "Congrats to the Chrysler team for taking a car that distinguishes itself for lackluster performance and giving it a body to match." Car and Driver bemoans, “It doesn’t even look that good, which is disappointing given that Chrysler used to have a reputation for excellent styling, not to mention the Sebring’s handsome predecessor.”

One of the only fans of the 2008 Sebring's exterior is Cars.com, who can only muster "nice looking" as a compliment, and even that has a caveat from their reviewer: "I have nothing against a distinctive design, but I definitely feel younger than the Sebring's target market." Car and Driver adds that although "styling is certainly different inside and out," the Chrysler Sebring's styling might prove to be "too different" and that the "interior design and materials are subpar."

Among the few truly positive comments is Kelley Blue Book's declaration that the 2008 Sebring's "passenger cabin [is] defined by clean, contemporary styling and a generous helping of metallic-looking trim"; and while they say it's perhaps not "as warm or welcoming as some of its competitors...it's comfortable and attractive nonetheless." Damning with faint praise, Motor Trend chimes in with the opinion that the Sebring Chrysler 2008's "interior isn't bad aesthetically"--far better than MyRide.com's scathing "unattractive inside and out."

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2008 Chrysler Sebring

Performance

The Chrysler Sebring 2008 is adequate for average, day-to-day driving, but don't expect a sporty ride or nimble handling.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are far from glowing when it comes to the 2008 Chrysler Sebring's performance and handling.

The Sebring offers three engine choices: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; an optional 2.7-liter, 189-horsepower V-6; and an optional 3.5-liter, 235-horsepower V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. Neither the four-cylinder nor the smaller V-6 has extra power to hand out, but it's the four-speed-only automatic that's a glaring, dated touch.

Four-cylinder Sebrings have it particularly rough when taking on the likes of the Malibu and Accord. Cars.com reports “the four-cylinder engine provides acceptable performance in city driving, but it runs out of power at highway speeds, where it lacks any kind of urgency when acceleration is called for.” ConsumerGuide adds that although the 2008 Chrysler Sebring has trouble passing, it "copes adequately with around-town driving."

The V-6 Sebring is a bit more impressive, but still no class leader. According to Motor Trend, the most powerful Sebring "ran the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds... underwhelming when compared with the midsize, V-6-powered missiles from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and, most recently, Chevrolet with its new Malibu." They also report "the engine struggles to move the 3699-pound car." Edmunds observes, “This engine is still a tad light on launching power but satisfyingly smooth once it spins up.” Car and Driver calls either engine “not especially refined.”

Of the transmissions, Cars.com says the four-speed automatic “shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly when necessary.” Motor Trend feels the "six-speed automatic is oddly geared, with a gaping ratio between first and second and a very close one between second and third."

Fuel economy in the 2008 Chrysler Sebring is rated at 24/32 mpg for the four-cylinder, and 22/30 mpg for the 2.7-liter V-6. The more powerful V-6 gets a six-speed transmission and drones less at speed, while turning in 19/28 mpg. “When equipped with all-wheel-drive, it delivers gas mileage worse than a 430-hp Corvette,” Edmunds points out.

Most Sebrings are front-wheel drive, but an all-wheel-drive Limited is offered this year, for those who really need it. In all versions of the Sebring, steering is direct if not razor-sharp, while the independent suspension is firm enough for a stable and secure feel during emergency situations and in tight corners. For a vehicle named for a racetrack, the 2008 Chrysler Sebring is mostly unengaging.

Cars.com observes, “The Touring model I tested had a considerably softer ride than most midsize competitors. However, while those competitors quickly settle themselves after hitting a big dip in the road, the Sebring unfortunately bobs up and down a few times; it's the closest thing you'll find to a Lincoln Town Car in this class. At highway speeds, that floatiness disappears and the car morphs into a poised cruiser.” Edmunds reports, “Ride quality is among the Sebring's strong points, as it proves both comfortable and composed at freeway speeds. Braking and handling are just average, though. The Sebring exhibits moderate body roll around corners but has decently weighted steering.” Car and Driver says the “handling and the ride are mediocre.”

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2008 Chrysler Sebring

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring competes on paper in room and utility, but quality and comfort are below those of rivals Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord.

According to reviews from around the Web and the firsthand experience of TheCarConnection.com’s editors, interior space is ample in the 2008 Chrysler Sebring for four adults, a bit tight for five.

Car and Driver says it has a “spacious interior.” Space, however, doesn’t equal room inside its doors: “Though the Sebring's 102.5-cubic-foot cabin is larger than both the Toyota Camry's and Ford Fusion's, it feels smaller, especially in front,” Cars.com adds. “Not helping matters is the cloth seat's narrow bottom cushion, whose side bolsters squeeze front occupants' thighs.” Edmunds finds “cabin space is generally on par with the rest of the midsize car class, as the Sebring sedan offers respectable amounts of headroom and legroom.”

In back, “the 60/40-split, folding rear seat is on the firm side, but it's nonetheless comfortable,” Cars.com says. “Legroom for adults is acceptable, but there's not a lot of extra space to let your legs roam.” However, “the Sebring's 13.6-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side,” Cars.com adds. The backseats fold forward and open up to the trunk; the front passenger seat also folds flat for loading long objects inside the car.

While “cabin design is ergonomically sound,” Edmunds observes, “the quality of interior plastics is poor for this price range.” Cars.com felt "most trim pieces fit together snugly, but the turn signal stalk and directionally adjustable LED map lights feel cheap." ConsumerGuide reports "cabin materials are more sturdy than rich and feel notably down market of most midsize rivals." Those “cut-rate” materials put the Sebring in the “basement among midsize family cars,” Edmunds concludes.

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2008 Chrysler Sebring

Safety

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring has good crash scores, but some important safety features are optional on selected models.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring gets mostly five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for crash protection, with four-star scores in passenger side-impact and rollover resistance.

Side-impact and curtain airbags are standard across the line, but stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes are optional on some models.

MyRide.com points out that "Electronic stability program plus traction control and Brake Assist," are optional on all but the AWD Limited sedan, where they are standard.

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2008 Chrysler Sebring

Features

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring offers nearly every modern convenience, including the latest high-tech audio and communications features.

The 2008 Chrysler Sebring kills in available features. There's a Harmon Kardon information, entertainment, and safety navigation audio system with 6.5-inch touch-screen display, as well as a 20GB hard drive that includes a Music Juke Box interface for organizing music and pictures, as well as a USB connection for both MP3 connectivity and downloading of WMA, MP3, and JPEG files.

A six-disc changer is standard on all models, as is Sirius Satellite Radio. Other standout features include an optional heated/cooled front cup holder that can warm beverages to 140 degrees or chill them to a near-freezing 35 degrees.

Motor Trend approves highly of the 2008 Chrysler Sebring’s audio system: "The speakers supply crisp highs and great bass response, making for one of the best stock stereos in its class." Kelley Blue Book likes the Sebring’s “rear-seat DVD entertainment system, stand-alone Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, heated and cooled cup holder, heated front seats, leather seats and a power glass sun roof."

Autoblog also appreciates the audio and navigation systems in the 2008 Chrysler Sebring, remarking; "The sound quality is as good as any in this price range, and the nav screen was bright and simple to use."

And though Edmunds is unimpressed with Chrysler Sebring's performance, they find "The Sebring's lengthy options list available on the Touring and Limited models includes heated front seats, Bluetooth (known as UConnect), heated/cooled front cupholders and remote start."

MyRide.com agrees with most reviews: "the Sebring's available technology is as good as or better than anything in the class."

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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 8.0
Features 10.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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