2010 Chrysler Sebring Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 26, 2009

An impressive feature set and a reasonable price can’t keep the 2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible and sedan from mediocrity.

To assemble this comprehensive review covering the 2010 Chrysler Sebring sedan and Convertible, TheCarConnection.com has read a wide range of reviews from around the Web and include the most useful information in this full review. In addition, the editors of TheCarConnection.com lay it all out here in this Bottom Line summary, which includes their own firsthand observations.

For 2010, the Chrysler Sebring is again offered either as a sedan or a convertible. The sedan competes at the heart of the mid-size sedan class—including models like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion—but fails to wow on almost any count, while the Convertible, despite being one of the best-selling ragtops in America, is decidedly mediocre. The Sebring Convertible is neither a sporting machine nor a car to be seen in; rather, it's the kind of car you take for a cruise for ice cream on a hot summer night for the sheer experience of being in a convertible.

Overall, the Chrysler Sebring sedan is less controversially styled than its Dodge Avenger sibling, which tries to pull off a scaled-down version of the Dodge Charger’s muscle-car stance. However, the Sebring ends up lookingappearing slab-sided and offers a collection of details andthat is neither look attractive nor hideous. The Convertible’s styling is downright awkward, though, with a roofline that doesn’t quite work. On the inside of either model, the Sebring is inoffensively styled but disappoints in the details, with the Sebring lagging behind its rivals in terms of quality.

The Sebring line now offers just two engine choices—: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder; or an optional 3.5-liter, 235-hp V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle. While we’ve found the four-cylinder versions of most other modern mid-size sedans to be perfectly agreeable and adequate for mostthe majority of needs, the base powertrain in the Sebring feels coarse, and sluggish to react with the four-speed automatic. The much more powerful V-6 brings a different, smoother character altogether, with a more responsive six-speed transmission and better refinement, but fuel economy ratings with the V-6 lag the competition, at 16 mpg city. Fuel economy is rated at 24/32 mpg for the four-cylinder.

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Whether in sedan or Convertible form, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring isn’t very responsive or satisfying to drive. Steering is direct but not at all razor-sharp, and the independent suspension is firm enough to be safe in emergency maneuvers but not at all sporty. The Convertible feels a step sloppier. Overall, the ride tends toward the absorbent side, though it’s also a bit pitchy.

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring will likely continue its appearance asremain a favorite in rental fleets, because its interior is actually find foraccommodates four adults—if you’re willing to lwedge yourself through a narrow opening. The sedan also has a reasonably roomy, comfortable interior, with enough space for adults in back. The plasticky interior is not wonderful to touch, but the controls are laid out logically. In the sedan, the backseats fold forward and open up to the trunk; the front passenger seat also folds flat for loading long objects inside the car.

Several different top configurations are offered on the Convertible. Base LX models get a vinyl top, which basically 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 midlevel Sebring Convertibles. The three-piece hardtop, engineered by Germany's Karmann, arguably cleans up the Sebring Convertible’s lines, but editors find the car’s lines already to be among the least attractive of convertibles on the market.

The Chrysler Sebring gets mostly five-star ratings from the government for crash protection;, and it now getsearns top ‘"good"’ scores in every major category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), thanks to a new whiplash-averting front-seat design. That makes the sedan an IIHS Top Safety Pick for ’10, although electronic stability control isn’t a standard feature—it’s a stand-alone $425 option.

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring doesn’t wow in terms of standard features, but if you’re willing to spend a little more money, there are truly some truly class-exclusive features in these value-priced mid-size vehicles. The Convertible is offered in twothree trims—LX, LXI, and Limited—while the Sebring sedan lineup now has been whittled down to a single Limited trim. The base LX Convertible is strictly for the rental-car crowd, but the LXI offers bigger 17-inch wheels and some upgraded trim inside that makes it seem less bargain-basement. On the Limited Convertible, a leather interior, automatic climate control, and Boston Acoustics sound are included, but even then the price has already passed the $35,000k mark.

The options list is extensive and one of the few ways in which the Sebring does well against rival models, but checking even a few boxes will drive the price into a range that no longer makes sense for most mid-size buyers. 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. In addition, it comes with a USB connection for both MP3 connectivity and downloading of WMA, MP3, and JPEG files. Not all of these extras are offered on the Convertible.

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2010 Chrysler Sebring

Styling

Although it’s not ugly, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring has an interior that isn’t particularly inviting and an exterior that’s downright ungainly in the Convertible.  

Some shoppers might appreciate the Sebring’s against-the-grain styling, but others will find it just plain ugly. Reviewers are split on styling for both the sedan and Convertible versions of the 2010 Chrysler Sebring, but TheCarConnection.com could more easily find negative comments than positive ones regarding its appearance inside and out.

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."

Cars.com is one of the few fans of the Chrysler Sebring sedan exterior. However, the reviewer 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."

Reviewers are more split on the 2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible’s styling. Kelley Blue Book has praise for it, describing it as “elegant” and noting its “egg-crate” grille and large headlights. MotherProof calls the convertible "sharp looking," but asserts that the design is targeted at older drivers with its "large grill" and "boxy feel." Cars.com discusses the “lean lines” that “stretch the convertible,” adding that the two-door convertible do not have the “squatty look of the sedan.”

Yet there's  still plenty of active dislike. Jalopnik is highly critical of this vehicle’s styling, commenting that “it took a keen eye, some serious hallucinogenic substances and a love of the George Foreman Grill to make the already ‘fugly’ Chrysler Sebring even less fetching.” The Los Angeles Times levels a scathing indictment: “It makes me long for the exquisite craftsmanship of the Pontiac flipping G6 [a car that’s now been discontinued]…and the Sebring Convertible is homely, too.” The rear end is “cantilevered gracelessly over the rear wheels,” as if “it's had unholy congress with an El Camino.”

Inside, the overall styling of the 2010 Chrysler Sebring is better received, though it’s still not all good news. Kelley Blue Book declares that the 2010 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." Car and Driver assesses that the "interior design and materials are subpar." 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 blunt "unattractive inside and out."

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2010 Chrysler Sebring

Performance

Don’t expect much, if any, driving excitement from the 2010 Chrysler Sebring.  

While the Sebring is adequate in most respects, especially if you go by the performance numbers, all but one or two reviews that TheCarConnection.com read confirm that it’s just not much fun to drive, whether in sedan or Convertible form.

The Sebring line now offers just two engine choices: a standard 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder or an optional 3.5-liter, 235-hp V-6 coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle.

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 notes that although the four-cylinder Chrysler Sebring sedan 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."

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

The six-speed automatic that comes with the V-6 is, in the experience of TheCarConnection.com’s editors, a big improvement over the four-speed paired with the four-cylinder engine. However, 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 thinks that the four-speed automatic "shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly when necessary."

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring gets its name from a racetrack, but in terms of driving excitement it’s 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." The Detroit News also can't help but root for the home team, opining that, “on the road, the Sebring [Convertible] is fun to drive.”

Cars.com notes that the Convertible weighs about 400 pounds more than the Sebring sedan, and the mass takes a toll. The steering has decent feedback, but Edmunds notes that “handling is also compromised by all that weight over the rear wheels.” ConsumerGuide observes some "body shudder" when driving the convertible over rough surfaces.

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2010 Chrysler Sebring

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring has a spacious interior, but you won’t find it meeting modern standards for quality or refinement.  

If you’re willing to deal with rather low standards of refinement and some substandard materials inside, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring is reasonably comfortable.

Car and Driver says the Sebring sedan 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 asserts that "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."

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring sedan scores reasonably well for backseat space. “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 says, "Ride quality is among the Sebring's strong points, as it proves both comfortable and composed at freeway speeds.” Cars.com has a lot of positive remarks about the ride: "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."

In the Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Car and Driver is "impressed by the interior materials," but most reviewers feel the Sebring Convertible’s trim leaves a lot to be desired. Edmunds.com describes materials as "below average, with cheap plastics and hard surfaces."

The mismatched, plasticky interior is the Sebring Convertible’s bigger problem, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com’s editors. For a car that can exceed $35,000, the trim and finishes in the Convertible are outdone by many cars with a $20,000 price tag.

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2010 Chrysler Sebring

Safety

Safety is one of the 2010 Chrysler Sebring’s stronger points, but it’s not a class leader here either.

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring offers reasonably good safety, though crash-test scores aren’t at the front of the class and safety equipment isn’t remarkable—if only Chrysler paid as much attention to safety features as it did to its options list.

The Chrysler Sebring gets mostly five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for crash protection and a few four-star scores. The Sebring also earns a rating of "good" in both frontal offset and side-impact tests from the IIHS, and with the addition of improved anti-whiplash seats for 2010, the Sebring is now a Top Safety Pick.

Side-impact and curtain airbags are standard across the line, as are anti-lock brakes, while electronic stability control is a stand-alone $425 option.

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2010 Chrysler Sebring

Features

While it doesn’t size up in other areas, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring offers an unparalleled options list.

The 2010 Chrysler Sebring doesn’t wow in terms of standard features, but if you’re willing to spend a little more money, there are some truly class-exclusive features in these value-priced mid-size vehicles. The Convertible is offered in three trims—LX, LXI, and Limited—while the Sebring sedan lineup now has been whittled down to a single Limited trim. The base LX Convertible is strictly for the rental-car crowd, but the LXI offers bigger 17-inch wheels and some upgraded trim inside that makes it seem less bargain-basement. On the Limited Convertible, a leather interior, automatic climate control, and Boston Acoustics sound are included, but even then the price has already passed the $35,000 mark.

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.

Edmunds reports that "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 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 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."

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