1996 Chrysler Sebring Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Another hit from Chrysler arrived in showrooms last year, and it is called Sebring. It's a sports coupe that carries four occupants in comfort, with reasonable performance abilities and suave good looks. The Sebring is a stylistic success, though we don't like the faux grille up front. What appear to be four large air intakes in a traditional grille are actually black, ribbed plastic inserts. We bet that will look nice once the Sebring has met with a few rocks.

Aside from the goofy grille, we can't fault Chrysler's stylists on the Sebring. Huge fog lights lend the sophisticated coupe an aggressive look, and tastefully restrained rear styling exudes class. Underneath the sheetmetal, you'll find the underpinnings of a Mitsubishi Galant, and the dashboard of the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon twins. The fact that the Sebring is built in the same Illinois assembly plant as these models bodes well for long-term reliability.

Two kinds of Sebring are available: LX or LXi. The LX is powered by a 140-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter four found in the Neon. A five-speed is standard in the LX. The LXi adds a 155-horse Mitsubishi V6 and a mandatory automatic transmission. Alloy wheels shod with bigger tires, and four-wheel disc brakes with antilock are also standard fare on the top-level Sebring. The four-banger, when equipped with a five-speed, is the quicker car. Option packages let you trim the LX out to base LXi standards.

Changes for 1996 are limited to the addition of a panic mode on the remote keyless entry system, three new colors, an improved CD/cassette player and a HomeLink Universal Transmitter. Hey, you don't need to fix what ain't broke.

At less than $20,000 for a well-equipped LXi, the Sebring competes very well against the Ford Thunderbird, Pontiac Grand Prix, and midsize coupes from Japan. If you'd prefer to save a few hundred dollars, try the mechanically identical Dodge Avenger on for size.

The oldest car in Chrysler's lineup, and the only one still based on a version of the K-Car chassis, is retired for 1996. The venerable Le Baron Convertible, and its worn out name, are now history. Replacing the car is the luscious Sebring Convertible, which really ought to set the sales charts on fire. Available in JX and JXi trim, the Sebring Convertible shares its name with the coupe in Chrysler's stable, but shares its platform, structure and drivetrains with the Cirrus sedan.

Just look at this rakish drop top. The mouth waters, doesn't it? Well, don't get too worked up. The most potent powerplant available is a 2.5-liter Mitsubishi V6. It puts 164 horsepower to the ground through the front axle. Base JX models get a 2.4-liter twin-cam four cylinder good for 150 horsepower. This sounds more than adequate, right? An automatic transmission is the only choice on the Sebring Convertible, and that certainly saps some potential fun from these engines.

The power top includes a glass rear window, and the trick seatbelt system is fully integrated into the front seats. Engineers chose this type of restraint to avoid the need to create a stubby, and aesthetically displeasing, B-pillar to attach a conventional three-point belt. CFC-free air conditioning is standard, and antilock brakes are optional on the front disc rear drum brake system.

Many interior fitments, including the dashboard and gauge layout, have been lifted from the Cirrus. The Sebring Convertible is in an entirely different league from the Le Baron Convertible. As such, expect prices to rise accordingly, but not out of competitive range with the Mustang ragtop. Performance will likely be a tick or two off the Cirrus and Sebring coupe due to the higher curb weight of the convertible. However, with stylish, classy looks like these, who cares?

1996 Highlights

Remote keyless-entry system gets a panic feature, and a HomeLink Universal Transmitter debuts on this suave sport coupe. Three new paint colors are also available. Chrysler dumps its final K-Car variant this year in favor of the Sebring Convertible. Based on the Cirrus platform and drivetrains, this drop top shares only the name of the Sebring Coupe.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Chrysler Sebring.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3.63 out of 5 stars
Original Owner
JXi 2dr Convertible
I am the original owner and took care of it since day 1. Problems with brakes needing replaced every three months or so after 36,000. Has over 105,000 and am now having problems ... distributor needs replaced, tune up cost $600, did not pass emissions testin, engine idles rough, had to replace electonic circuit board because tach and odometer stopped working ($600 repair). Stereo shorts out. Parts are expensive but the car is fun to drive. I will be selling within the next 6 months and do not plan to buy another. Too expensive to maintain.
3.25 out of 5 stars
expensive to fix
JX 2dr Convertible
Every single part on this car is ridiculously expensive to replace. It has all of the drawbacks of a foreign car but none of the perks. The parts are expensive and it is difficult to work on, but it has the same lifespan as your typical domestic car. The good things about it are the handling and the appearance, its a beautiful car. The gas mileage is okay, nothing impressive. The Sebring is fun to drive but upkeep is very costly I have owned mine for less than 3 months but I've already had to make over $600 in repairs and that does not include labor.
4.25 out of 5 stars
I don't see the problems everyone has???
JXi 2dr Convertible
I bought my JXi w/ 74K miles on 11/01 and thought I would have the typical "Chrysler" problems. 13 months later has 89,300 and I couldn't be happier. It ALWAYS starts and never left me stranded. Temps can get to -15 in winter and the 2.5 V6 always starts instantly. The only repairs, new wheel bearings and tranny cooler lines. The valance on the bottom of the rear window has separated from the glass, but the it's only an appearance item so no water leaks. I do dread the $1300 100,000 mile tune up and timing belt change. I don't baby my cars and this JXi just keeps running. Could I have the only reliable Chrysler Sebring JXi ever built??!! LOL!
3.25 out of 5 stars
Bad car
JXi 2dr Convertible
I bought this brand new put over 115,000 miles on it in 6 yrs before the engine caught fire. Not to mention right after warranty expired the AC froze up and tore up the serpentine belt rendering us helpless on Interstate in Arkansas..the LED readout for mileage went out in year 2 and the convertible leaked horribly from year 4.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Chrysler Sebring

Used 1996 Chrysler Sebring Overview

The Used 1996 Chrysler Sebring is offered in the following submodels: Sebring Coupe, Sebring Convertible. Available styles include LXi 2dr Coupe, JXi 2dr Convertible, LX 2dr Coupe, and JX 2dr Convertible. Pre-owned Chrysler Sebring models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine or a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 168 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Chrysler Sebring comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic, 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Chrysler Sebring?

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Which used 1996 Chrysler Sebrings are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Chrysler Sebring?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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