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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
Adequate performance on the boulevard but not on twisty back roads
Car and Driver
the 4-cylinder Sebring struggles in passing and merging situations
Handling is competent in the sedan
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.”
The Chrysler Sebring 2008 is adequate for average, day-to-day driving, but don't expect a sporty ride or nimble handling.