LA Auto Show: The full skinny on Chrysler's 2008 Sebring Convertible
UPDATE: Added a video walkaround/top demonstration and Frank's live pics of the debut with Jennifer Love Hewitt after the jump.
In the immortal words of Paul Harvey, "And now, the rest of the story..."
A few hours ago, we gave you the first look at the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. The details we gave were for the UK version because, well, we couldn't talk about the North American car yet. But now we can. As was widely rumored, the new Sebring will be available with a choice of two soft tops (cloth or vinyl) or a retractable hardtop. The soft tops are a no-brainer because the Sebring's a warm-weather rental fleet staple. The new droptop's wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than the sedan's, and the car's length overall is increased by 3 inches. Like past versions, it's designed to comfortably seat four and carry a reasonable amount of stuff in the trunk. A "reasonable amount" here is equal to two golf bags with the roof stowed under its hard tonneau (another new feature). Raise it, and you can carry the clubs for a foursome.
The top operation is fully automatic, with no more need to undo any latches before you let the sun in. In addition, the top can be operated from the car's key fob. Inside, you're greeted by the same plastacular interior introduced in the sedan, but it should be noted that the lighter colors look worlds better (in pictures, anyway) than the gray interior on the Sebring sedan we drove recently. All the goodies you can get on the sedan, such as the heated/cooled cupholders and the MyGig entertainment system, are available here, too.
Motivation comes from either the 173 horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder World Engine, a n E85-capable189 horsepower 2.7L FFV V6, or the Limited's 3.5L V6 with 235 ponies. The two V6s get six-speed automatic transmissions, while the four-banger makes do with a 4- forward gears. We definitely like the look of the convertible over the sedan, and the addition of the retractable hardtop is a welcome development, as the Sebring truly becomes a four-season machine when so equipped. Overall, we count the Sebring convertible as a pleasant surprise. Stay tuned this week for more feedback from the gang we've got on the ground.
Check out the full photo gallery and Chrysler's extensive press release after the jump.
All-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Tops Segment with Class-leading Innovations and Three Convertible Top Offerings
• Chrysler brand reinforces its leadership position as America's favorite convertible company with all-new Sebring Convertible
• Three automatically latching tops, including a retractable hard top, can drop with the press of a button on the key fob
• Spacious interior makes comfortable room for four adults; exceptional cargo room easily fits four golf bags, two golf bags when top is dropped
• Exhilarating performance with excellent fuel efficiency of 31 mpg and Flexible-fuel Vehicle (FFV) engine availability
Chrysler is raising the roof on the convertible segment, introducing the all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. This completely redesigned Sebring Convertible is built on the company's new D-segment platform and offers what no other convertible on the road can offer: Chrysler's sleek and elegant design, exhilarating performance with excellent fuel efficiency, a spacious interior that comfortably sits four adults and enough room in the trunk to hold two golf bags, even when the top is dropped.
The all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible also offers what no other convertible has offered before-three automatically latching convertible top options: vinyl, cloth and a first for this new 2008 Sebring Convertible, a body-color painted steel retractable hard top, all of which can be retracted with a push of a button on the key fob. Top that with a standard power hard tonneau cover on all models, and top up or down, Sebring Convertible provides the benefits of coupe and the true open-air freedom of a convertible, all at a surprisingly affordable price.
"America's favorite convertible is now better than ever," said George Murphy, Senior Vice President-Global Marketing, Chrysler Group. "The all-new Chrysler Sebring Convertible offers the unprecedented combination of unmistakable road presence, athletic handling, innovative technologies, as well as plenty of room for people and gear. In fact, the all-new Sebring Convertible is the only convertible in the segment that can pass the two-golf-bag test. The sky's the limit on what this vehicle can accomplish in the marketplace."
The Chrysler Sebring Convertible has long held the honor of America's favorite convertible, solidly leading the segment for the past decade. In fact, Sebring Convertible has earned the title of best-selling convertible in the United States for seven of the past 11 years. The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible is poised to reign supreme when it becomes available in U.S. dealerships in the second quarter of 2007 and in global volume markets in the second half of 2007.
In markets outside North America, Sebring Convertible will be the first D-segment cabriolet for the Chrysler Group to offer both a diesel engine and right-hand-drive availability, thereby equipping the vehicle to become a stronger competitor in the segment.
Elegant Design both Inside and Out, Top up or Down
Chrysler designers looked at the future brand showroom when seeking inspiration for the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. From the original sketches to the production vehicle, the all-new convertible was designed to provide a familial tie to its new sedan sibling, and the resemblance is unmistakable. Beyond that, the convertible stretches the look to create usable space in the trunk when the convertible top is stowed.
"Top up or down, the all-new Sebring Convertible's design captures the essence of the Chrysler brand," said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President-Design. "The all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible's design is a showcase for the expressive, refined, athletic and passionate."
From the front view, the new Sebring Convertible shares many traits with its sedan sibling, including the distinctive face of Chrysler, the brand's signature eggcrate grille and a uniquely sculptured hood that features the Chrysler brand's elegant lines. The Chrysler winged medallion is centered at the top of the grille just below the leading edge of the hood. Large quad headlamps wrap around to the side of the vehicle, where the all-new Sebring Convertible's profile takes on a shape all its own.
The all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible's wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer, and the car is 3.5 inches taller and more than 2 inches wider than the vehicle it replaces. Its overall length also is 3 inches longer than the sedan, which lengthens the side profile and provides enough cargo room in the trunk to hold two golf bags when the roof is retracted. Sebring Convertible's profile is defined by a long hood, a long roofline and a high chrome beltline, all of which give the vehicle a nicely proportioned, elegant greenhouse with the top up. Designers also minimized the width of the C-pillar, improving the convertible's sleek side profile and increasing rearward visibility when the convertible top is up. Sculpted character lines run across the body, underneath the door handles and across the lower bodyside, producing the Sebring Convertible's athletic stance.
From the rear, wide tail lamps are mounted on the corners and deck lid for visibility and visual impact. Rear fog lamps mounted in the backup lamps help maintain a uniform appearance among models sold around the world. Chrome-tipped dual exhaust outputs hint at the Limited model's performance capability when equipped with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transaxle.
The all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible's interior features a modern, clean design with intense focus on quality, detail, craftsmanship and execution. Soft surfaces on interior touch points, including the instrument panel cover and door arm rests, complement the convertible's luxurious interior.
Inspired by the Chrysler winged badge, the convertible's center stack features a Chrysler signature analog clock, which is surrounded by dual heating and air conditioning vents. Sebring Convertible's instrument panel also includes a locking glove box that can secure important documents and small items. The center floor console features dual storage bins and a sliding armrest that moves 3 inches to provide a comfortable position for all drivers.
As many as four occupants can experience the new Sebring Convertible's comfortable, roomy interior. Occupants sit 2.5 inches higher than they did in the previous Sebring Convertible model, giving them a command-of-the-road seating position. Rear seat passengers also have plenty of leg and head room, making this a functional convertible that can be enjoyed year round in all seasons.
All 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible models feature a two-tone interior theme with dark and lighter shades of Khaki or Gray on the instrument panel and door trim. The Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited model also features an exclusive Cream and Pebble Beige interior with leather seats. Interior accents include Alloy Silver and chrome on the Sebring Convertible model, Satin Silver and chrome on the Touring model and Satin Silver, chrome and Tortoise Shell on the Limited model.
Thoughtful Attention to Details
The Sebring Convertible's development team paid keen attention to details, finding ways to make life easier for the driver and passengers, while creating a clean design in the process. The result is a 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible that delivers many standard innovative and thoughtful features that will both surprise and delight the driver and passenger, including:
• A trunk spacious enough to hold four golf bags when the convertible top is up and two golf bags when the convertible top is down
• Available remote convertible top operation on the key fob
• No manual convertible top latches, as Sebring's new convertible top system automatically latches
• A standard power hard tonneau that neatly conceals each of the three convertible tops when retracted
• Seatbelts integrated into the front and rear seats, which looks clean, enhances seat comfort and makes it easier for passengers to get into the back seat
• Easy-entry rear seat, as passenger seat features slide and memory recline position
• Available remote start that allows drivers to warm up or cool down their convertible from a distance
• An available windscreen that reduces wind and road noise
• A locking glove box that can secure important documents and small items, top up or down
• An available heated/cooled cup holder that keeps warm beverages warm and cold beverages cool
• Available YES Essentials® stain-resistant, odor resistant, anti-static seat fabric
• Rear cupholders that are positioned in the rear quarter panels for easy access by rear-seat passengers
• Passenger seat back that includes a map pocket for storage
• Doors that include map pocket inserts
Exhilarating Performance with Excellent Fuel Efficiency
The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible is available in the United States in three models: Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Chrysler Sebring Convertible Touring and Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited.
Three engine options power the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible sold in the United States: the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder World Engine, an available Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) 2.7-liter V-6 engine and an available 3.5-liter V-6 engine coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle with Auto Stick.
Fuel economy is a high priority for many of today's car buyers, and the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible's standard four-cylinder engine rivals the best four-cylinder engines in the segment. Sebring Convertible's 2.4-liter World Engine with dual variable valve timing delivers fuel efficiency of 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, as well as smooth, quiet operation. Mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle, this new engine provides a 15 percent increase in horsepower (173 horsepower vs. 150 horsepower) and an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with the 2.4-liter engine it replaces.
An available FFV 2.7-liter V-6 engine provides value- and performance-conscious consumers the power of a V-6 engine with a price that compares with the competition's four-cylinder engines. Chrysler Sebring Convertible Touring model's 2.7-liter V-6 engine produces 189 horsepower and 191 lb.-ft. of torque, providing more low-end torque (at an rpm 850 lower) compared with the 2.7-liter engine it replaces. This 2.7-liter V-6 engine achieves 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. It also can operate effectively on any blend of gasoline and fuel-grade ethanol up to E-85.
Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited models sold in the United States also are available with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 235 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle that comes standard with Auto Stick. The combination of the 3.5-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transaxle delivers excellent performance and fuel efficiency, as well as smooth quiet operation. Sebring Convertible's 3.5-liter V-6 engine achieves 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
SOLID STRUCTURE PROVIDES A SMOOTH RIDE
The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible was engineered to have an extremely rigid body structure, which provides its quiet, comfortable ride, devoid of cowl shake, even when the top is down. Compared with the model it replaces, the new Sebring Convertible's body structure is substantially stiffer than its predecessor in bending and torsion-especially bending-due to very large sills. In fact, its new front-wheel-drive architecture and the three-box vehicle design contribute to a body that is 2.5 times stiffer in twist and 1.5 times stiffer in bending than the previous generation convertible. These refinements also make the new Sebring Convertible structure stiffer than other convertibles on the market that cost thousands of dollars more.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The all-new Chrysler Sebring Convertible brings new levels of function and technology to the U.S. convertible segment. Innovative new features include the cutting-edge MyGIG navigation/entertainment/infotainment system, a heated/cooled cupholder, YES® Essentials stain-resistant seat fabric and an available feature every convertible owner will love-the ability to drop the convertible top and all four windows with the push of a button on the key fob. .
"The all-new Chrysler Sebring Convertible does for the convertible segment what the Chrysler 300 did for the large car segment and the all-new Sebring Sedan does for the mid-size sedan segment-it brings innovative, useful technologies to customers," said David Rooney, Director-Chrysler Marketing and Global Communications. "These features make life easier and safer for the driver and passengers, while making the overall driving experience much more enjoyable for all."
The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible features MyGIG, a cutting-edge information, entertainment and safety navigation audio system that raises the bar on in-vehicle communications This best-in-class, next-generation navigation radio features a 6.5-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) Display with a touch-screen panel that can support 65,000 colors, providing a three-dimensional appearance to graphics and animation, as well as multiple font sizes and styles. The MyGIG system follows voice-activated commands and includes many new features for music, sound, movies and personalized picture displays, including:
• A 20 gigabyte hard disc drive that includes Music Juke Box for organizing music and pictures on the hard drive
• Universal Serial Bus (USB) provides both MP3 connectivity and downloading of WMA, MP3 and JPEG files onto the hard drive
• Gracenote® database installed on the hard drive, which provides song identification, including composer, artist and title
• Playlist creation capability to provide easy access to files
• Voice memo recording, which allows a message up to 3 minutes long to be recorded using the microphone integrated into the rearview mirror
• Radio screen, which can display movies (when vehicle is not in motion)
• SIRIUS® Satellite Radio, which provides customers with more than 125 channels of the best music, entertainment and information coast-to-coast, 24 hours a day. This includes 100 percent commercial-free music, as well as sports, news, talk, entertainment, traffic and weather
• UConnect™ Hands-free Communication System that uses Bluetooth® technology to provide voice-activated wireless communication between the occupants' compatible cell phones and the Sebring Convertible's onboard receiver. The hands-free option promotes safety, freedom, value and flexibility
Class-leading Safety Features
The all-new 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible also offers a unique combination of class-leading safety features that are designed to keep occupants both safe and secure, top up or down.
A new integrated seat-belt system for 2008 connects all seat belts to the seats, making them more comfortable for the driver and passengers, as well as making it much easier for passengers to get in and out of the rear seat.
Sebring Convertible's safety cage is constructed with dual-phase, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel components designed to protect occupants in all driving situations. Side-guard door beams help protect occupants in side impacts.
Sebring Convertible's extremely strong safety cage is complemented with standard advanced multi-stage front air bags and standard front-seat-mounted side air bags. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on all 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible models. Electronic Stability Program also is available.
Rising to the Top
The 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible competes primarily in the Standard Specialty segment, with some consideration from Luxury Specialty segment buyers in the U.S. market. The convertible portion of the Standard Specialty segment has remained fairly steady over the past 5 calendar years, with an average of 150,000 units sold each year. The convertible segment is expected to achieve steady growth in the near future, due to a trend toward niche vehicles.
In the United States, Chrysler Sebring Convertible is designed to appeal to successful Baby Boomers who want a car for themselves. They love the open-air freedom of a convertible, but also appreciate that the new Sebring Convertible is practical 365 days of the year. These buyers are 40-50 years old, and 70 percent of them are married. They are well-educated and earn a median income of approximately $90,000. Fifty percent are male, 50 percent are female and 60 percent are college-educated. These Sebring Convertible buyers are fun, carefree, classy, friendly, smart and easy-going. The all-new Chrysler Sebring Convertible meets their demands for a vehicle that can do triple duty for going to work, running errands and pleasure drives with the top down.
2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Production
Production of the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible begins in the first quarter of 2007 at the newly refurbished Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant. Sebring Convertible's new 173 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder World Engine is built in the state-of-the art Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Mich. The 2.7-liter V-6 engine and the 3.5-liter V-6 engine are built at the Kenosha (Wis.) Engine Plant.
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