2009 Chrysler Sebring Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
June 14, 2009

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring scores big on features, but it doesn’t stand up to its main competitors in most other ways.

TheCarConnection.com has read a wide range of reviews from around the Web to compile a conclusive review of the 2009 Chrysler Sebring sedan. That’s in addition to the firsthand impressions presented here in this definitive Bottom Line assessment.

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring is a mid-sized sedan that competes with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, as well as larger options such as the Ford Fusion. Some drivers like the Sebring for its distinctive body styling, but the Sebring lags behind its rivals in terms of quality.

The Sebring offers three engine choices: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; an optional 2.7-liter, 189-hp V-6; and an optional 3.5-liter, 235-hp V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. Neither the four-cylinder nor the smaller V-6 has much spare power, but it's the four-speed-only automatic that's a glaring, dated touch. The more powerful V-6 gets a six-speed transmission and drones less at speed. Fuel economy is rated at 24/32 mpg for the four-cylinder, and 22/30 mpg for the 2.7-liter V-6. The larger V-6 performs at 19/28 mpg.

For a vehicle named for a racetrack, the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is mostly unengaging. 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.

Review continues below

Interior space is fine for four adults, though a bit tight for five. The plasticky interior is not wonderful to touch, but the controls are laid out logically. 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 2009 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, and anti-lock brakes make the standard list for 2009. Electronic stability control is available on the Touring model.

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring kills in available features. 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. Plus, there's a Harman 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 and a USB connection for both MP3 connectivity and downloading of WMA, MP3, and JPEG files.

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2009 Chrysler Sebring

Styling

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring has odd styling that some might find downright unappealing.

Some shoppers might appreciate the Sebring’s against-the-grain styling, but others will find it just plain ugly.

Autoblog doesn’t spare any words, calling the 2009 Sebring Chrysler "sedan just plain difficult to look at without flinching." Jalopnik joins the bashing, saying, "Congrats to the Chrysler team for taking a car that distinguishes itself for lackluster performance and giving it a body to match." 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." 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 sole fans of the 2009 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."

The interior of the 2009 Chrysler Sebring doesn't suffer quite as badly. Kelley Blue Book's declaration that the 2009 Sebring's "passenger cabin [is] defined by clean, contemporary styling and a generous helping of metallic-looking trim." In addition, though 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 2009's "interior isn't bad aesthetically"—far better than MyRide.com's scathing "unattractive inside and out." Car and Driver allows that although "styling is certainly different inside and out," the Chrysler Sebring's styling might prove to be "too different" and "interior design and materials are subpar."

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2009 Chrysler Sebring

Performance

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring will get you there—without much excitement.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com are underwhelmed by the 2009 Chrysler Sebring's performance and handling. Competitors almost unanimously do better.

The Sebring offers three engine choices: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; an optional 2.7-liter, 189-hp V-6; and an optional 3.5-liter, 235-hp V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. ConsumerGuide notes that although the 2009 Chrysler Sebring has trouble passing, it "copes adequately with around-town driving." Edmunds observes, "This engine is still a tad light on launching power but satisfyingly smooth once it spins up."

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."

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." Car and Driver calls either engine "not especially refined."

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." Of the transmissions, Cars.com says the four-speed automatic "shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly when necessary."

Fuel economy in the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is unimpressive. "When equipped with all-wheel-drive, it delivers gas mileage worse than a 430-hp Corvette," Edmunds points out. The 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.

For a vehicle named for a racetrack, the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is mostly unengaging. 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. Braking and handling are just average, with Edmunds observing, “The Sebring exhibits moderate body roll around corners but has decently weighted steering."

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2009 Chrysler Sebring

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring is relatively roomy, but it just doesn't meet modern expectations for quality or comfort.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is reasonably comfortable, but it's a tight squeeze for five adults.

Edmunds asserts "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." Car and Driver says the 2009 Sebring 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."

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." The backseats fold forward and open up to the trunk; the front passenger seat also folds flat for loading long objects inside the car for extra storage, but "the Sebring's 13.6-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side," according to Cars.com.

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 attests. While "cabin design is ergonomically sound," Edmunds observes, "the quality of interior plastics is poor for this price range." Cars.com feels that "most trim pieces fit together snugly, but the turn signal stalk and directionally adjustable LED map lights feel cheap."

Edmunds reports, "Ride quality is among the Sebring's strong points, as it proves both comfortable and composed at freeway speeds.” Cars.com observes, "The Touring model...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."

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2009 Chrysler Sebring

Safety

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring is reasonably safe and secure.

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring offers reasonably good safety, though crash-test scores aren’t at the front or the class and safety equipment isn’t remarkable. If only Chrysler would have paid as much attention to safety features as it did to its options list.

The 2009 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. The Sebring also wins a rating of "good" for frontal offset tests from the IIHS.

Side-impact and curtain airbags are standard across the line, as are anti-lock brakes, while electronic stability control is optional on some models. MyRide.com points out, "Electronic stability program plus traction control and Brake Assist" are optional.

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2009 Chrysler Sebring

Features

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring offers an unbeatable list of features. This is one area where the vehicle outshines the competition.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com love the features list on the 2009 Chrysler Sebring. It offers everything a driver could want—plus a little more.

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

Though Edmunds is unimpressed with Chrysler Sebring's performance, they report "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."

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." Motor Trend approves highly of the 2009 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." Autoblog also appreciates the audio and navigation systems in the 2009 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." MyRide.com agrees with most reviews: "the Sebring's available technology is as good as or better than anything in the class."

New features for 2009 include aimable LED lighting (on the Touring model), an eight-way adjustable driver's seat (Touring and Limited), and remote start (Limited).

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7.0
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Expert Rating
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Styling 6.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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