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The Chrysler Sebring was one of only a handful of reasonably priced midsize vehicles to be offered as both a sedan and a convertible. There were some Sebring highlights over the years, including the fun-in-the-sun convertible and the second-generation coupe, which shared a platform with the Mitsubishi Eclipse. But overall, the Sebring was typically outclassed by other models in terms of refinement and performance.
The Sebring did receive a major update for 2011, but with it also came a name change; it's now known as the Chrysler 200.
Most Recent Chrysler Sebring
The most-recent, third-generation Chrysler Sebring was introduced as a sedan for 2007 and convertible for '08. Production lasted until 2010. After that, Chrysler made major updates and renamed the car the Chrysler 200.
Both Sebring body styles were available in LX, Touring and Limited trims, while the convertible could be had with either a traditional soft-top design or a retractable hardtop. Base Sebrings started out reasonably well-equipped with full power accessories, front side-impact and full-length head curtain airbags, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-CD changer and, on the convertible, a power vinyl top (cloth was optional). Touring models got 17-inch alloy wheels and a lengthier options list, while the top-of-the-line Limited featured leather trim, automatic climate control and a premium audio system. Options included a hard-drive navigation/audio system.
Stability control was standard on the Touring and Limited trims until 2010, when it strangely was added to the options list. Meanwhile, antilock brakes were optional on the base LX. These items were standard on almost every competitor, and we highly recommend making sure a used Sebring is equipped with these essential safety features.
Standard on most Sebrings was a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated for 173 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission routed power to the front wheels. Until 2010, a 2.7-liter V6 good for 189 hp was optional on the Sebring Touring sedan and standard on Sebring Touring and Limited convertibles. Available on Limited models only was a 235-hp 3.5-liter V6 backed by a more sophisticated six-speed automatic transmission. Prior to 2010, all-wheel drive was also available with the 3.5-liter V6, though fuel economy suffered.
In reviews, we found the third-generation Sebring sedan to be about as bad as it got in the midsize segment. It was below average in most respects, ranking far behind segment leaders. The ride quality was comfortable enough, but braking and handling were well below average. The base four-cylinder was adequately powerful and fuel efficient, but it was unrefined, while the optional V6 was underpowered and inefficient. Cabin design was ergonomically sound, but the quality of the interior plastics was poor for this price range. These attributes apply to the convertible as well, but there's some inherent desirability to the convertible since there were fewer competing convertible models.
Previous Chrysler Sebring Models
In 2001 Chrysler introduced the second-generation Sebring sedan and reworked coupes and convertibles powered by updated engines and transmissions. The coupe shared a platform with Mitsubishi's Eclipse. 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.
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, which was related to the Breeze/Cirrus/Stratus compacts. At the time the car brought class, dignity and a bit of luxury to this otherwise whimsical segment, and it became quite successful.