What's New for 2010
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring receives active head restraints, a smoothed-out hood design, new alloy wheel designs and a new gauge cluster. Also, the sedan's base LX trim has been discontinued, the 2.7-liter V6 has been retired from sedan duty, stability control is no longer standard on any model, all-wheel drive is no longer available and some equipment has been shuffled between existing trims.
It must be tough working in Chrysler's marketing department these days. Can you think of a catchy tagline for the 2010 Chrysler Sebring? "Sebring: American for 'rental car'!" No, that won't do. But there's no other way to slice it -- the Sebring is best known for its omnipresence on rental lots, and that usually doesn't bode well for a car's competitiveness.
Let's be fair: The Sebring convertible actually isn't half bad. You can forget about engaging performance here, but if all you want is wind in your hair, room for four adults and a somewhat reasonable price tag, don't count the Sebring drop top out. Interestingly, it comes with your choice of two tops -- a vinyl soft top or (on the Limited only) a retractable hardtop. When raised, the hardtop mutes wind noise and provides coupelike functionality in inclement weather. The Sebring convertible also has an unusually large trunk. Performance shortcomings aside, it's a solid effort.
The Sebring sedan, on the other hand, is frankly about as bad as it gets in the midsize segment. It's below average in most respects, ranking far behind class leaders like the Ford Fusion, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima. The base four-cylinder engine is adequately powerful and fuel-efficient, but it protests noisily when called into action. The optional 3.5-liter V6 disappoints in terms of fuel economy and acceleration. Other Sebring sedan low points include cheap interior materials, forgettable driving dynamics and brakes that don't inspire confidence.
Somewhat surprisingly, competition in the affordable four-seat convertible segment has dropped off this year, with the less roomy Ford Mustang V6 and Volkswagen Eos being the only other viable choices. Competition among midsize sedans, however, is downright cutthroat, and the Sebring sedan is simply out of its league. There are good reasons why the 2010 Chrysler Sebring is American for "rental car."
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring is available in sedan and convertible body styles. The sedan comes in Touring or Limited trim, while the convertible has three trim levels: LX, Touring and Limited.
The Touring sedan is the base model, and it comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat and a four-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack. Options are limited to Bluetooth (which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror) and an anti-theft alarm. The Limited sedan steps up to 17-inch alloy wheels, a multifunction steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo with a six-CD/DVD changer, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a fold-flat front-passenger seat, automatic headlamps and heated side mirrors.
Options on the Limited sedan are extensive, including 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, foglamps, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage and real-time traffic, and six Boston Acoustics speakers.
The LX convertible comes standard with the four-cylinder engine, a power vinyl soft top, 16-inch steel wheels, the Limited sedan's stereo, power front seats, air-conditioning and full power accessories. The Touring convertible adds the 2.7-liter V6, 17-inch alloy wheels (optional on LX), heated side mirrors, stain-repellent cloth upholstery, a cushioned center console with an armrest and a key fob with power-top controls (also optional on LX).
The Limited convertible gets a retractable hardtop, the 3.5-liter V6, dual exhaust tips, 18-inch alloys, a windscreen, leather upholstery with heated front seats, Boston Acoustics speakers, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic climate control and remote start. Some of the Limited's features are available on the Touring as options. Other convertible extras, depending on trim, include Bluetooth, foglamps, a touchscreen stereo with digital music storage and a navigation system similar to the sedan's.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring sedan is available only with front-wheel drive. Standard on both sedan trims and the LX convertible is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that sends 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque through a four-speed automatic transmission. In our performance testing, a sedan with this engine ran from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, an average time for this class. Fuel economy is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined (20/29/23 on the convertible). The Touring convertible comes with a 2.7-liter V6 good for 186 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque, also paired with a four-speed automatic. Fuel economy is rated at 18/26/21 mpg, a dismal performance given the meager power output.
Standard on the Limited convertible and optional on the Limited sedan is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 235 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque and is attached to a six-speed automatic. In performance testing, a Sebring Limited convertible with the 3.5-liter V6 went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds; the lighter sedan should be about a half-second quicker. Fuel economy for both body styles is 16/27/20.
Standard on all Sebrings are four-wheel antilock brakes, active front head restraints and front-seat side airbags, while the sedan adds side curtain airbags. Stability control is optional on the Touring and Limited trims and unavailable on the base LX.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring sedan scored a perfect five stars for frontal crash protection, five stars for front side protection and four stars for rear side protection. The Sebring convertible scored four stars for frontal crash driver protection and five stars in all other categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset and side crash tests, the Sebring sedan and convertible both scored the best rating of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
The Sebring's interior looks nice from afar, but despite its art deco design language, it's rife with cheap, poorly textured plastics. Passenger space is about average, but the Sebring's low rear-seat cushion makes it feel less accommodating than rivals. The Sebring convertible comes off as more luxurious than its four-door hardtop sibling, and it also offers the most backseat space in its class. The bulky folded steel and glass panels of the optional retractable hardtop take up significant space in the trunk, but the Sebring nonetheless offers one of the most capacious top-down cargo holds, with room for two golf bags.
Although the base four-cylinder delivers the best fuel economy, its coarse power delivery and old-school four-speed automatic pale in comparison to competing four-cylinders. The 3.5-liter V6 is the best power plant in the lineup, but it gets below-average fuel economy, and Sebrings so equipped trail most V6-powered rivals in acceleration. Ride quality is smooth and composed, but handling is unimpressive; moreover, when the convertible's optional steel hardtop is folded away in the trunk, its tail tends to bob up and down on undulating pavement. Additionally, in several braking tests, the 2010 Chrysler Sebring exhibited longer-than-average stopping distances and a mushy brake pedal.