The Sebring Coupe is a car that offers buyers nimble handling and up-market amenities for a down-market price. This sport coupe carries four occupants in comfort, with reasonable performance abilities and suave good looks. Aside from the proboscis-like 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 the previous-generation Mitsubishi Galant, and the dashboard of the Mitsubishi Eclipse. The fact that the Sebring is built in the same Illinois assembly plant as these models bodes well for long term reliability.
Two Sebring coupes 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 163-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. Although the four-banger, when equipped with a five-speed, is the quicker car, we prefer the smoothness of the Mitsubishi powerplant. Option packages let you trim the LX out to base LXi standards.
At just over $21,000 for a well-equipped LXi, the Sebring competes well against the Pontiac Grand Prix and various midsize coupes from Japan. However, we would be hard-pressed to give up the Grand Prix's 3.8-liter V6 for this pretty face from Chrysler. Nonetheless, style is the name of the game in the personal coupe segment, and the Sebring is nothing if not stylish.
Body-colored mirrors lend the Sebring LXi a more elegant style.
Read what other owners think about the 1999 Chrysler Sebring.
I picked up my Jxi a few months ago for a mere $1400. The engine had 165k miles on it, but I was baffled at how well it was taken care of. This is now a 15 year old car, and I'm amazed at how many looks and compliments you get in it. I drive quite a lot, and have put a good amount of mileage on it already as it's currently @ 176k. Haven't had any major issues with it so far. As others have said, there's odd little electrical problems that pop up, but nothing too serious. The dash lights work when they want to, as do the mirror/dome light. Blower motor works on high speed only (this is an easy fix, though). The trunk lid hydraulic lifters also fail, so watch your head when you open it.
Updated 4-5-2016 (Edmunds sent me an email asking for an update on this review).
I do still have this car, and drive it every so often. I did run into some issues shortly after my initial review. Oil leaks were (and still are) one of my main issues. The valve cover gaskets failed, and it took the distributor/rotor/cam sensor assembly, and camshaft sensor with it. Oil seeped past the gaskets and ruined the components. I can't fault the gaskets for failing, because it can happen; especially on an older car with this many miles. What I can fault is the engineering of the engine itself, and how horrible they made it to work on. The engine bay is very cramped, and there's little room to work with. The craziest thing is having to remove the intake manifold just to access the rear 3 spark plugs. I've never seen such a crazy setup.
Anyway... Getting the aforementioned parts changed out was a major pain in the rear. The valve cover gaskets were caked into the covers, and I spent hours digging them out, and trying my best not to bend the delicate covers (it's a very thin metal, and any warps in it will cause leaks). The distributor, rotor, and cam sensor are in one assembly, and it was very difficult to remove it. Also, since all three of these components are in one big chunk, it's an expensive part, and these engines are very picky about which ones you put in. You take a big risk putting a re-manufactured assembly in, and they have a high fail percentage if you do. Many Chrysler forums recommend you buy an OEM or new one. Same applies for the crankshaft sensor.
Even after repairing the leaks there, I still have odd oil spots on the driveway. These cars are prone to oil leaks, and you can read around about it.
Still, I'm satisfied with purchasing the car. It's been a very fun little car to take out on the weekend with the family.
UPDATED: 10-18-16 (Edmunds sent me yet another email asking for an update)
Currently my sebring is not doing so well. I started noticing a serious transmission fluid puddle under the car. I assumed perhaps the pan gasket was bad, and I had my mechanic friend look at it. He called me back soon after and told me to "come down and take a look at it"... never a good sign. He had it up on a lift and rotated the front wheels back and forth. Both driver and passenger axles were loose and rattling around in the differential casing, and fluid was leaking past them. He didn't fully diagnose it, but told me it was likely serious and possibly required a new transmission. Not being able to afford such a repair, I limped it back home and started tearing apart under the engine. Pulling the inspection cover off, it looked like the differential bearings went bad, caused play in the drive axles, and ruined the seals, causing the leak. I'm still in the process of fixing this, and hope to have it back up before winter. Hopefully I won't have to replace the transmission...
This has turned into a massive review, but it's the culmination of two requested updates, and me wanting others to know what you might be getting into. One last thing I'm going to mention: This engine is an "interference engine" design. If you're unfamiliar with what that is, basically it means if the timing belt breaks, the engine is completely ruined. I did not know this until after I purchased the car, and I want others to know this beforehand. Every car has a timing belt, or chain. Chains are more reliable and rarely break or cause issue. Belts however, go bad and need to be changed after so many miles/years. It's another bad design, and expensive to service.
Breaking it down to pros/cons:
- It's a convertible...
-Still a nice looking car 17 years later
-If you find a loaded Sebring with the Infinity radio system, it's really good
-Very spacious seating
-No seriously, it's back seat leg room is more than my Buick sedan... how is that possible??
-Pretty sharp handling for a larger sized vehicle
-The Auto-stick feature is fun, and gives you more control of the gears
-Timing belt on an interference engine...why...seriously....
-Odd electrical bugs here and there
-Cheap plastic on the doors rattle with the radio turned up
From the showroom to the junkyard
JX 2dr Convertible
I bought my 99 Sebring JX in Aug,1998, Basically just routine maintenance first 90,000 mi. Oil every 3-4,000, tires every 30-40,000, battery every 5 yrs, replaced top after 13 yrs. alternator,spark plugs, and belts,including timing belt at around 90,000. Was starting to need new paint after 15 yrs,110,000 mi. clearcoat peeling & fading. Then my son had a Ford Excursion back over him, bending front radiator support et all & pinching/twisting front sub frame, so off to the Junkyard. I loved that car, fun to toss around, like a 4 passenger go cart. It's not a Porsche, or a Jaguar, but it doesn't have the Initial buy in or upkeep cost either. Absolutely marvelous for a top down cruise along the coast, just don't forget to rub the sunscreen onto your scalp. I averaged around 26 mpg all around forever, but then I like to take all the ponies out for a romp at every opportunity! I'm currently looking for a replacement. It has to be a 97-2000 Sebring, I havent seen anything else that looks so right, and still seats 4 in comfort, top up or down.
Compared to the other cars that you could get for the same price with a convertible top and all the features this car comes with, its almost unbeatable...almost. Unless you can do your own work or have a second car to drive while your Chrysler Sebring is in the shop, I would recommend looking around before you buy this car. This is an unreliable car and will need serviced more then you may like. The good side of that is replacement parts are cheap and easy to find. For the people that do their own work, you may need to try a few times to be able to get to where you need to be. Considering the front wheel drive, the engine compartment is very cramped. I still enjoyed my Sebring.
Great Convertible at north of 53 degrees
I bought a '99 Jxi in '02 with the idea of parking it in the winter. By Feb '03, my "winter" car crapped out so I started driving the Jxi year-round and 8 years later I still haven't stopped. I bought winter tires for it. They go on in November and off in March. So far, it has been running great. I put the top down as much as possible living in Edmonton, Canada and that adds up to maybe 100 times a year (May to September is great weather-warm and dry). 285,000km (178,000 miles). In 9 years, I've changed the timing belt, a few sensors, couple of headlights, a windshield and a ball-joint once. It has always handled great. I average about 9 litres/100km (26 mpg u.s.) but I'm a speed demon.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Driver5 / 5
Passenger5 / 5
Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
Front SeatNot Rated
Back SeatNot Rated
Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
Side Impact Test
Roof Strength Test
Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
Moderate Overlap Front Test
More about the 1999 Chrysler Sebring
More About This Model
If you were of car-buying age back in the 1970s, the idea of a luxury sports coupe is part of your automotive heritage. Distinctively stylish and almost always sporting in nature, the "personal luxury coupe" was the driving force behind the American car market a quarter-century ago. By the mid-70s, these high-style, high-performance luxury coupes were the top-selling cars for nearly every American manufacturer.
Those were the days when Oldsmobile's Cutlass dominated the sales charts. Chevrolet's Monte Carlo became immensely popular, and Pontiac's Grand Prix turned into the division's biggest success story. The Ford Thunderbird of the era broke sales records (the 1977-79 "Basket-Handle" T-Birds were the best sellers in the nameplate's history), and even its sister car, the Mercury Cougar, enjoyed a resurgence.
For Chrysler Corp., the appeal of the Dodge Charger grew to legendary proportions (even its successors, the Magnum and Mirada, experienced short-lived success). Chrysler dealers had the Cordoba, whose interior was clad unforgettably in "rich Corinthian leather," and before the Fury took over, Plymouth had a gussied-up midsize called the Satellite Sebring.
The 1999 Chrysler Sebring LXi Coupe is a direct descendant of those personal luxury coupes of yore, holding true to its roots in a very '90s sort of way. But instead of being a young man's object of desire, today's Sebring Coupe is being purchased by 38- to 44-year-olds, 58 percent of them female. And the entire "Middle Specialty Segment," as it is now called, is downright miniscule, drawing less than four percent of the total U.S. market. The Sebring claims success with about five percent of that segment, but at 30-some-thousand units a year, that's less than a tenth of what it took to be a hit 25 years ago.
If you've ever wondered why the Sebring Coupe looks so different from the Sebring Convertible, it's because, well, they are different. In fact, the Coupe has almost nothing in common with the Sebring Convertible, which happens to be the top-selling ragtop in America. The Coupe's underpinnings are based on the Mitsubishi Galant, while the Convertible is built on Chrysler's JA platform, which is the basis for the Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze compacts.
Why is Chrysler building sister versions of the same nameplate off two entirely different chassis with different drivelines? Perhaps the justified death of the LeBaron nameplate left the company with two similarly sized cars with two different niches to fill, so Sebring simply became an umbrella brand for both. In any case, it's too bad there's such a small demand for big coupes, because Chrysler's entry is a pretty good effort in both design and execution.
The big appeal of the Sebring Coupe rests mainly in its exterior sheetmetal. Its prominent, scooped-out nose leads up to a gently sculpted hood and a low-slung greenhouse, which flows gracefully into a stylish tail. Rakish and purposeful looking, Sebring's fresh, sweeping shape is aided by dual-straked flanks and raised rear haunches, making for a decidedly sporty stance. The look is high style, more classy than brash, yet more bold than beautiful. Halogen headlamps, integral fog lamps, tinted glass, power mirrors and a trunk-lid spoiler are all standard fare on the LXi, and add to its curb appeal.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages this big coupe has over its competition is a roomy interior that seats four full-sized occupants in relative comfort. Despite a steeply raked windshield and a fastback rear roofline, headroom fore and aft is adequate even for six-foot-plus adults. With its generous glass area, the cabin is remarkably airy - even more so with the optional ($640) sunroof wide open. The doors are big and wide, so there's room to get in and out of the back seat, where legroom is good until you power the seats all the way rearward. Split-folding rear seatbacks and the largest trunk in its class add needed versatility when cargo-carrying ability becomes a concern.
Better still, the LXi version adds a host of upmarket amenities that provide a premium touch without the entry-luxury price tag. Air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, tilt wheel, and speed control are all standard. So is a six-speaker AM/FM-cassette stereo with compact disc player. Then there are extras such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, woodgrain interior trim, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, keyless entry with security alarm, front and rear floor mats, remote fuel door and trunk lid release - even front and rear climate control outlets.
Mitsubishi's modified double-wishbone suspension at all four corners provides nimble handling for a car this size, even when pushed. Ride is controlled yet not harsh, though we'd prefer that less tire boom and road noise found their way into the cabin. The power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering is engine-speed sensitive, generally something many enthusiasts can do without. While we found steering effort to be light, it wasn't overly vague at speed, so there is enough road feel for a little point-and-shoot freeway maneuvering.
Handling is helped out by 215/50HR-17 performance rubber riding on a set of nice-looking alloy wheels. Our test unit came equipped with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, which are a $600 option. Brake performance in and around town was more than adequate, with good modulation and pedal feel. Overall, everything about the driving experience leans to the sporty side of the equation, except for power.
While the Sebring LXi comes with Mitsubishi's 2.5-liter, SOHC 24-valve V6, the motor is no barn-burner. Its 163 horsepower builds smoothly and it makes nice induction noise under hard throttle, but there's not a lot of off-the-line muster until the revs pick up. Maximum torque of 170 foot-pounds is delivered up at 4350 rpm, and things get breathless soon after that. Most drivers will find acceleration adequate, with zero-to-60 sprints arriving in less than 10 seconds, but we wouldn't call the Sebring LXi a performance car.
The fully electronic four-speed automatic transmission shifts smartly, although some enthusiasts would have much-preferred that a five-speed manual were made available. Mercury's Contour-based Cougar can be had with a V6 and stick shift, and if power is your thing, Pontiac's Grand Prix Coupe can be equipped with a delightfully stout 3.8-liter six underhood for kicks. Certainly, a more powerful, manually shifted drivetrain would do much to promote the Sebring LXi's sporting image.
Many automotive analysts believe there will be a rebirth in the coupe segment. Some see strong potential for models that combine high style with sporty performance to draw a new wave of young buyers. Notice we didn't mention high style with luxury touches, which happens to be the Sebring's marketing strategy. Given the Sebring Coupe's relatively low production run and the Convertible's high profit margin, we wonder how long Chrysler will be willing to absorb the costs of building two separate Sebring models in this era of cost-saving platform consolidations. This will truly be a market to watch in the near future.
At roughly $23,000 for a loaded LXi, the Sebring still competes well against various midsize coupes from Japan. And while there's a new Monte Carlo due from Chevrolet in 2000, other manufactures are looking to abandon the Middle Specialty Segment altogether. If a high-style personal coupe like the Sebring LXi floats your boat, you may wish to jump aboard soon before the winds of change plot a course toward a new breed of more sporting coupes on the horizon.
Used 1999 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Overview
The Used 1999 Chrysler Sebring Convertible is offered in the following styles: JX 2dr Convertible, and JXi 2dr Convertible.
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