Chrysler Sebring 2007

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The Chrysler Sebring has long been an interesting choice for a midsize vehicle. Debuting more than a decade ago, the Sebring has been one of the few mainstream-brand vehicles available to be offered as a coupe, sedan and convertible. For the most part, our editors were impressed with early versions of the Sebring thanks to their style and value, but more recently the car has lost its edge to fresher competitors.

Chrysler recently performed a full redesign in hopes of making the Sebring more desirable and competitive. It’s now available as a sedan and a convertible (with either a soft- or hardtop), and overall it’s a higher-quality car that’s more interesting to behold and roomier than its predecessor. It also has several engine choices, an extensive equipment list and advanced technology going for it. However, mediocre performance and cut-rate interior materials drop the Chrysler Sebring back in the pack among midsize cars in this price range. It’s still worth considering, particularly if you’re looking for an affordable hardtop convertible, but consumers should be aware that it’s one of many viable choices.

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The current Chrysler Sebring sedan was redesigned for the 2007 model year. The convertible sat out ’07, returning as an early 2008 model with an optional retractable hardtop. Both body styles are offered in base, Touring and Limited trim levels. Base Sebrings start out reasonably well-equipped with full power accessories, front side-impact and full-length head curtain airbags, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, CD/MP3 audio and, on the convertible, a power vinyl top. Touring models get 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded audio speakers and LED cabin lighting, while the top-of-the-line Limited features leather trim, automatic climate control and a premium audio system with satellite radio.

The Sebring’s options list is lengthy; highlights include a rear-seat entertainment system and a 20-gigabyte hard drive-based navigation/audio system. In lieu of the aforementioned vinyl top, Sebring convertible buyers can opt for a power cloth top or a power-retractable hardtop.
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Standard on most Sebrings is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated for 173 horsepower. Optional on the Sebring Touring sedan, and standard on Sebring Touring and Limited convertibles, is a 2.7-liter V6 good for 189 hp. With either of these engines, a four-speed automatic transmission routes power to the front wheels. Available on Limited models only is a 235-hp 3.5-liter V6 backed by a more sophisticated six-speed automatic transmission.

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. Front-seat occupants in the Chrysler Sebring convertible will find the quarters similarly roomy, but the droptop’s rear seat has considerably less legroom and can accommodate only two passengers. Cabin design is clean and ergonomically sound, but the quality of interior plastics is subpar for this price range.

On the road, the base four-cylinder delivers the best fuel economy, but feels sluggish and coarse when accelerating. A better choice for most people is the 2.7-liter V6, as it provides much stronger performance when merging and passing. The most powerful engine, the 3.5-liter V6, is still a tad light on launching power but satisfyingly smooth once it spins up. If you’re shopping for a Chrysler Sebring, be it a sedan or a convertible, the 3.5-liter V6 is by far the best choice.

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.

The original Sebring was launched in 1995 as Chrysler’s new midsize coupe. Mechanically, it was related to the Mitsubishi Galant of the same period. Available in LX or LXi trim, the Sebring coupe came with a 163-hp, 2.5-liter V6 and a standard four-speed automatic. At the time, the vehicle’s best attributes were its sporty and purposeful exterior styling and roomy (for a coupe) interior. Despite a steeply raked windshield and roof line, headroom fore and aft was adequate even for adults, and the trunk impressed us with its size. The biggest downside was the V6’s marginal performance.

The first-generation Chrysler Sebring convertible debuted a year later. However, this model was based on Chrysler’s own platform. (It was related to the Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze compacts.) At the time the car brought class, dignity and quite a bit of luxury to this otherwise whimsical segment, and became very successful with upscale buyers of all ages.

In 2001 Chrysler introduced a new Sebring sedan and reworked coupes and convertibles powered by updated engines and transmissions. As before, the coupe shared a platform with Mitsubishi. At the top of the heap was a 3.0-liter V6 cranking out 200 hp. It was initially available only in the LXi Coupe. Standard in convertibles and LXi Sedans was the Chrysler-built 2.7-liter V6 rated at 200 hp. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder was also available. In early reviews we praised the Sebring for its good looks, solid performance, competitive pricing and wide range of body styles.

Minor updates followed in successive years, and Chrysler shuffled the trim levels on a nearly annual basis: The familiar Sebring LX and LXi models ultimately gave way to GTC, TSi, Touring and Limited trim levels. Note that the Sebring coupe was discontinued after the 2005 model year, while the Sebring convertible and sedan continued through 2006.

As time went by, the second-generation Chrysler Sebring became increasingly uncompetitive. In later tests, we found that its drivetrains were unrefined; its ride quality was harsh (particularly in the sedan); and its build and interior materials quality were well below average. Though it wouldn’t hurt for used-car shoppers to take a look at the Sebring — especially those interested in the model-year range of the late ’90s to early 2000s — it’s probably wise to consider other options before making a final decision.

Scribbled on October 2nd 2007 in Chrysler, Chrysler Sebring
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