2007 Sebring New Car Test Drive
The new, 2007 Chrysler Sebring is an overdue update of the marque's affordable, mainstream family car. It's intended to compete with Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima, plus the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mitsubishi Galant, and Saturn Aura. As the list makes obvious, it's a hyper-competitive market niche. Just being 'good enough' no longer makes the cut. It also helps to stay current with the competition's generational cycle, and the Sebring was falling short in both regards.
The 2007 Sebring rectifies these shortcomings in almost all respects. It gets a third powertrain; a new look; a new interior; and a subtle but generally effective tweaking of the acoustical foundations and structural underpinnings.
Chrysler's engineers, designers and stylists did more than just enough with the new Sebring. The base engine, a new, 2.4-liter inline-4, is not only significantly more powerful, but also more fuel-efficient. The mid-level engine, still a 2.7-liter V6 gains an ability to run on E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. A new, top-of-the-line, 3.5-liter V6 is paired with a new, six-speed automatic transmission.
The designers of the '07 Sebring kept just enough of the previous generation's styling cues so people will know the two cars are related. Beyond that, other than four doors, four wheels and a decent aero-look, there's little of the previous in the current. The very visible message this sends is unmistakable: The '07 truly is new, not just a face-lifted, quick makeover to keep the brand in dealer's showrooms.
Inside, there's as much new as there is outside. Other than the basic ingredients, like gauges, seats and dash, there's little that carries over to the '07 from the '06. And this job is exceptionally well done. The look is sleek and polished, all nicely integrated and finished. There's more room inside, too, thanks to the several added inches in height and the fraction of an inch of added length. All is not fine and wonderful, though. Some interior surfaces, for example, are cold and hard to the touch, and the trunk, for another, gives up 15 percent of its capacity from the '06, giving it one of the smallest trunks in the class.
The list of safety features expands. A new, optional, rear-seat video system keeps passengers entertained. The optional, voice-activated navigation/audio system now incorporates a hard disk drive for quicker mapping response that also can store for playback personally recorded audio tracks.
All in all, very little about the new, 2007 Sebring was left untouched or to chance. And not by chance, very little of what was touched hasn't come out better.
The 2007 Chrysler Sebring is available only as a four-door sedan in three trim levels with a choice of three engines. (A Sebring Convertible goes on sale as a 2008 model.)
The entry-level Sebring ($18,320) comes with the 173-hp four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic. Standard features include air conditioning; cruise control; power door locks, windows and heated outside mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3, four-speaker stereo with auxiliary audio input; tilt/telescope steering wheel; cloth upholstery on six-way-plus lumbar adjustable driver's seat and four-way adjustable front passenger seat; front center armrest with sliding armrest and bi-level storage; 60/40 split folding rear seatback with drop-down center armrest; P215/65R16 tires on full-covered, steel wheels; and headlight-off delay.
Optional are premium fabric upholstery ($100); heated front seats ($250); AM/FM/CD6/DVD/MP3 six-speaker stereo ($350); Bluetooth ($360); Sirius satellite radio ($195); power tilt/slide, sun-and-moon roof with lighted visor mirrors and LED front-seat map and rear-seat reading lights ($935); daytime running lights ($40); carpeted, front and rear floor mats ($30); engine block heater ($40); and an ash tray and lighter ($30). A Convenience Group ($895) adds theft alarm, electronic personalization center, trip computer, remote start, trunk cargo organizer, cabin air filtration and one-touch up/down front side windows.
The Touring model comes in two forms, one with the four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic ($19,520), the other with the 189-hp V6 and four-speed automatic plus four-wheel disc brakes upgraded from the base disc/drum setup ($20,920). Standard features over and above what's on the base Sebring include premium upholstery; overhead console, with LED map lights and glasses cases; six speakers; automatic headlights; fold-flat front passenger seatback; one-touch up/down front side windows; lighted visor mirrors; LED rear-seat reading lights; and P215/60R17 tires on aluminum wheels.
Touring options expands with the addition of an eight-way power driver's seat ($395); premium speaker system ($495); leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls ($135); DVD/CD/WMA/MP3 rear-seat entertainment system with floor console-mounted LCD, remote control, wireless headsets and auxiliary audio and video/game inputs ($1,195); multi-media, voice-activated, Harman/Kardon navigation/audio system with TFT display, touch-screen controls and 20GB HDD that also hosts a music file data/management system, a voice-memo recorder and a 6GB partition for personally recorded audio files ($1895) including Sirius and Bluetooth; and sunroof ($775). Also optional on Touring models with the V6 are P255/55R18 tires on aluminum wheels ($250). An electronic convenience group includes automatic climate control, cabin air filter, theft alarm, programmable garage/gate opener remote, auto-dim inside mirror, heated and cooled cup holder, the personalization center with trip computer and tire pressure monitor, remote start and cargo organizer ($915).
Limited is available with the four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic ($23,320) and the 235-hp V6 ($25,320) with six-speed automatic with AutoStick manual-shift mode. Standard equipment additions to those on the Touring include full leather trim, eight-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control, the Boston Acoustics speakers, Sirius satellite radio with one-year trial subscription, programmable garage/gate remote, auto-dim inside rearview mirror. The V6-powered Limited comes with P255/55R18 tires on aluminum wheels. The Premium Group ($605) adds cabin air filter, heated and cooled cup holder, heated front seats, trunk cargo organizer and remote start to the Limited with the four-cylinder engine. Chrome wheels are available. Other options are similar to those on the other models.
Safety features on all Sebring sedans include multi-stage frontal airbags; front- and rear-seat.