Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as "sticker" price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car that is above the invoice price paid by the dealer. It is a price that does not include any options that can be added to a particular car style. When shown as a range, the prices are starting MSRPs, without options, for multiple styles for that model.
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Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
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Expert Reviews 2 of 5
By Tom Strongman
July 18, 1997
If you want to get the most out of driving down the Avenue of the Giants, do it in a convertible. Staring up at these 300-foot redwood trees is doubly awesome when you don't have a top to obstruct your view. You feel truly insignificant, like a mouse
looking at an elephant. Avenue of the Giants meanders through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park alongside Highway 101 in northern California. These centuries-old trees are so large there are three big enough to drive through. It was into this area
that my wife and I drove a Chrysler Sebring convertible on a recent vacation. This stylish, four-passenger ragtop was an ideal mate for our weeklong amble through the countryside north of San Francisco because it has decent luggage space, a top that drops
in seconds and comfortable seats. And, besides, convertibles and California go together like bagels and mineral water. Plus, they magnify the panoramic vistas of Highway 1 like nothing else with four wheels can. The convertible is mechanically similar
to the Sebring coupe but it has a unique body. It is built on the same front-wheel-drive, 106-inch wheelbase platform shared with the Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Cirrus. Our trip took us as far north as Eureka, and we spent most of our time in the
Victorian village of Ferndale and quaint Mendocino. The Sebring was well suited for the winding roads in the north because it noses into corners without much body roll yet has a ride that is as compliant as a family sedan. It is good balance of sportiness
and comfort. Our test car, painted Deep Amethyst Pearl, a really nice dark metallic purple, was the upscale JXi with the 2.5-liter, V-6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. AutoStick allows the driver to shift the transmission
manually, which was perfect for the twists and turns of the coast highway because it was easy to hold the car in lower gears to slow for turns. In AutoStick mode the gear lever was a bit sloppy, and it took a hefty nudge to execute shifts. I have driven
numerous AutoStick models in the past and none were like this, so our car's linkage must have been an aberration. The Mitsubishi-built V6 engine has 168 horsepower, enough to give snappy acceleration and relaxed cruising. Even though we encountered
grades up to 15 percent on the rough and torturous Fish Rock Road, south of Mendocino, it still had power in reserve. As you can imagine, we spent much of the time with the top down. Lowering it took almost no effort and very little time, which made
it ideal. When it was cold, we left the side windows up and turned on the heater to keep warm. Wind blast was minimal, and with the side windows down it was even quieter. The rear-mounted radio antenna whistled like crazy at 60 mph, but we couldn't hear
it with the top up. We usually turned the radio off when the top was down so as not to be bothered by the whistle. The top is lined to absorb sound and has a glass rear window, but when it was up there
was still a fair amount of wind noise at highway speeds. That's nearly always the case for convertibles. Even though the body structure has been reinforced to compensate for the lack of a top, there was some minor shaking over bumpy roads. The
cab-forward architecture means the cockpit is big enough for four real people. Luggage space is decent, although one of our bags had to ride in the back seat because it was too tall to fit underneath the space that holds the top when it is down. The
steeply sloping windshield keeps the passengers out of the wind, but in some situations light reflects from the deep dashboard up onto the glass. At night, the headlights were just barely acceptable on low beams. Instrumentation is simple and easy
to read, and the radio and heating controls are tucked together in a center pod. Of course, cupholders are generous and within easy reach. The front seats are wide and accommodating, yet have adequate lateral and lumbar support that
kes them comfortable for long hours behind the wheel. The seatbelts are built into the seats, which is excellent because they always fit right no matter how the seat is adjusted. They also free up access to the back seat. During our week in northern
California, Sebring convertibles were as plentiful as sunshine, which is a testament to the car's popularity. It is sporty, styling, reasonably priced, gets decent gas mileage and has room for four. That makes it practical as well as fun, and you can't
ask convertibles to do much more than that. Price Our test car's base price was $24,760. Standard equipment included air conditioning, power windows, remote keyless entry, power mirrors, power driver's seat, AM//FM stereo cassette, 16-inch alloy
wheels, rear window defroster, tilt steering wheel, cruise control and anti-lock brakes. Options included the V6 engine, AutoStick transmission and California emissions controls. The sticker price was $26,460. Warranty: The basic warranty is
for three years or 36,000 miles. Point: The Sebring is spacious, good looking and pleasant with the top down. The V6 is the engine of choice, and our test car's dark purple paint was most handsome. Counterpoint: The headlights need to be brighter
and a revised radio antenna would reduce whistling. SPECIFICATIONS: ENGINE: 2.5-liter, V6 TRANSMISSION: AutoStick WHEELBASE: 106 inches CURB WEIGHT: 3,396 lbs. BASE PRICE: $24,760 PRICE AS DRIVEN: $26,460 MPG RATING:
18 city, 28 hwy.