Chrysler hasn’t forgotten the middleman.
In the past couple of years, the company has introduced a new Neon, a range of reworked minivans, four-door pickup trucks and the 300M/LHS/Concorde family of super-sized luxury sedans. But the heart of its lineup was beginning to lose the beat set by newer offerings from Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
Chrysler is hoping to change that scenario with a new trio of Sebrings. At March’s Geneva Motor Show, they debuted the first of their midsizers — the Sebring four-door sedan, formerly known as the Cirrus. At this week’s New York Auto Show, Chrysler unveiled the other two members of the Sebring family —a coupe and convertible to accompany the sedan.
Both the Sebring sedan and convertible are now being built in Chrysler’s Sterling Heights, Mich. plant, while the coupe is constructed in Normal, Ill., alongside its under-the-skin twin, the Mitsubishi Eclipse. All will be on sale by the fall of 2000.
This is where it all began. The Sebring Coupe was the first in the family to be introduced, and now in its second generation, it still shares its underpinnings with Mitsu’s Eclipse coupe.
Sebring CoupeEnlarge Photo
The new design smooths out the narrow-windowed look of the previous coupe into a muscular design with more bits in common with the 300M sports sedan and other Chrysler models. With the new shape comes much better body rigidity, too – by some measures, 90 percent better, Chrysler says.
The standard engine on the coupe is a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder with 147 hp. A 3.0-liter V-6 with 200 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque is optional. Both are available with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission. V-6-powered models also can be equipped with AutoStick, Chrysler’s shift-it-yourself automatic transmission.
2000 Chrysler Sebring
Safety equipment includes dual front airbags and available anti-lock braking and traction control. The LX coupe comes with air conditioning, power mirrors, locks, and windows, a theft-protection system, and an AM/FM cassette stereo. The LXi adds remote keyless entry and leather interior trim.
Chrysler says the Sebring is the most popular convertible on the market, so it’s little surprise the newest edition of the droptop doesn’t stray too far from its best-selling past.
Sebring ConvertEnlarge Photo
The convertible Sebring’s styling affords a much more integrated shape. The convertible’s nose is sleeker, with a better-integrated grille and more handsome detailing. As with the last generation, the Sebring convertible is actually a ragtop version of the four-door sedan, with its own rear suspension and floorpan. Hence, it’s built on the same production line as the four-door.
The Sebring Convertible is powered by Chrysler’s new 2.7-liter V-6, with 200 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with optional AutoStick control.
Sebring Convert. InteriorEnlarge Photo
Safety mavens will appreciate the convertible’s revamped structure and features. It adds "ABS plus," spin-control software similar to Mercedes-Benz’s ESP system, for one. Integrated seat belts are back, and multi-stage airbags are added. More subtle improvements, like brighter headlamps and seatbelt pretensions, add to the improvements. The Sebring convertible’s power-operated top has a heated glass rear window, too.
Standard equipment on the base vehicle includes a power driver’s seat, heated mirrors, cruise control, and an AM/FM cassette. The LXi adds a 150-watt Infinity stereo with CD player, a cloth top, and leather seating, while the top of the line Limited adds AutoStick, an in-dash CD changer and more leather trim.
The Sebring coupe and sedan are set to go on sale this summer. The convertible should be available later in the fall.
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