2009 Sebring New Car Test Drive
The current Chrysler Sebring was introduced as a four-door sedan for the 2007 model year, then a two-door convertible was added in mid-2007 as a 2008 model. The midsize, front-wheel-drive Chrysler Sebring competes with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Saturn Aura, among others. The availability of a retractable hardtop convertible distinguishes the Sebring lineup from its popular competitors. The Sebring convertible offers a choice of vinyl or cloth soft tops or the retractable hard top.
For 2009, the Sebring sedan is available in only one trim level, the up-scale Limited, with a choice of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6. The base-level LX sedan is no longer offered, and the mid-level Touring is available only to fleets. The convertible is available in LX, Touring or Limited trim levels, with the same engine choices as for the sedan, plus the availability of a 2.7-liter V6. The four-cylinder engine and the 2.7-liter V6 are matched with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the 3.5-liter V6 has a six-speed automatic. Other changes for 2009 are minor, and include some new colors and trim and convenience features.
The four-cylinder engine is rated at 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque; the 2.7-liter V6 at 186 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque; and the 3.5-liter V6 at 235 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. The 2.7-liter V6 will run on gasoline or E85, the combination of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline.
Even the four-cylinder is fairly responsive in the sedan, but the V6 is the best choice for the convertible. And the six-speed automatic is more responsive than the four-speed automatic.
The Sebring sedan offers competitive passenger room, with plenty of room up front and a useful rear seat. The sedan seats five. The trunk is small for the class and has a small opening, however.
The convertible offers good interior space up front. It seats four passengers, but the rear seat lacks the legroom to make it comfortable for adults to sit back there on long trips. More than half of the available space in the convertible's trunk is taken up by the top mechanism when the top is down.
The Sebring cabin is pleasant. The look is sleek, and it is all nicely integrated and finished. Some of the interior surfaces are cold and hard to the touch, however. With an available DVD rear-seat entertainment system, navigation and uconnect, the Sebring's available technology is as good as or better than anything in the class.
Dynamically, the Sebring fits middle of the pack in the midsize class. Ride quality is generally pleasant, soaking up most bumps well. Handling is competent in the sedan. The convertible lacked the driving feel of the sedan, however, and exhibited noticeable cowl shake.
The Limited sedan is available with the four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic ($23,380) or the 235-hp 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic with AutoStick manual-shift mode ($2,250 for the V6 and six-speed automatic). Limited sedan models come with leather trim, air conditioning, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, theft alarm, an eight-way power driver's seat, AM/FM/MP3 with six-disc CD changer, and a trip computer. Some options are grouped into packages, including an Electronic Convenience Group, which includes automatic air conditioning, fog lamps, a heated and cooled front console and cupholder, temperature gauge and compass, map lights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, remote start, garage-door opener, and tire pressure monitor ($1,230). There is also an electronic stability program ($425), sunroof ($775), uconnect phone ($360), uconnect gps ($1,285), and a navigation and sound package that includes the uconnect phone and navigation ($1,695). With the V6 engine, 18-inch wheels and tires are standard.
The LX convertible ($28,130) features a power vinyl soft top, six-way power front seats, power mirrors, air conditioning, rear defroster, a six-speaker sound system and 16-inch wheels and tires. It is powered by the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with the four-speed automatic transmission. Options for the LX convertible include 17-inch wheels and tires ($595), and a Convenience Group, which includes premium seats, remote start and a security alarm ($535).
The Touring convertible ($30,610) adds premium trim items, temperature gauge and compass, tire-pressure monitor, Touring suspension, power heated mirrors and 17-inch wheels and tires. Options for the Touring model include electronic stability program ($425), uconnect ($360), navigation and sound package ($1,780), Electronic Convenience Group ($860), and a Special Touring Group, which includes 18-inch wheels and tires, fog lamps, heated front seats, leather seating and trim, steering wheel audio controls and a windscreen ($1,320). The Touring is powered by the 2.7-liter flex-fuel V6 with four-speed automatic transmission.
The Limited convertible ($35,465) has the 3.5-liter V6 with 235 horsepower and the six-speed automatic transmission, and it adds additional exterior and interior trim items, remote start, security alarm, automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirror, Boston Acoustics sound system, steering-wheel audio controls and 18-inch chrome-clad wheels and leather seating and trim. Limited convertible options include the electronic stability program ($425), uconnect ($275), and uconnect gps, which includes an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and navigation ($1,200).
Safety features on all models include multi-stage front airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and constant-force retractors, rear-seat child safety seat anchors and tethers (LATCH), and antilock brakes. Sedans have head-protecting side curtain airbags for both seating rows. Electronic stability program plus traction control and Brake Assist, which enhances emergency braking, are optional, and we recommend it. But most important, wear your seatbelts because they are your first line of defense in a crash.