Redesigned for 2001, the Sebring comes in three body styles: as a coupe, sedan and convertible. For 2002, the midsize Sebring sedan gets optional curtain-type airbags. Chryslers AutoStick transmission is available in a new Enthusiast Package for the LXi sedan, which also includes a sport suspension.
Scheduled to join the lineup at midseason is a new GTC convertible that features a 2.7-liter V-6 engine, a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission, and a sport suspension. A decklid spoiler, white-faced gauges and two-tone seats will be included. This year, the LX convertible can be equipped with a four-cylinder engine instead of the V-6.
As in the past, the Sebring coupe which cars.com classifies as a compact car due to its shorter wheelbase is actually built by Mitsubishi at its Illinois plant. Chrysler did the styling, but the front-drive platform is related to the Mitsubishi Galant. The Sebring sedan and convertible share a different design and are produced in Michigan. Dodge offers a Stratus coupe and sedan that are similar to the Sebrings, but the Stratus is not available as a convertible.
Similar styling is evident on all three Sebring body styles, led by the same oval egg-crate grille that is used on all Chrysler-brand vehicles. Although the Sebring convertible and sedan might look the same at a glance, they actually have different front fascias, taillights and side body panels.
Their dimensions also differ. The convertible rides a 106-inch wheelbase and measures 193.7 inches long overall, while the sedan has a 108-inch wheelbase and is 3 inches shorter from bumper to bumper. In contrast, the Mitsubishi-built Sebring coupe has a 103.7-inch wheelbase and is 190 inches long. The convertible has a standard power top, complete with a glass rear window and electric defogger.
Both body styles contain front bucket seats. Sedans have a three-place rear bench, while the convertible contains a two-place rear seat for a four-passenger capacity though the two rear passengers can enjoy plenty of elbowroom and legroom. The sedans 60/40-split rear seatback folds to expand cargo capacity beyond the 16-cubic-foot trunk, and the convertible has a fixed rear seatback and only 11.3 cubic feet of trunk space.
Under the Hood
A 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in the LX sedan, which mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. All convertibles and the LXi sedan use a 2.7-liter V-6 that produces 200 hp. The V-6 engine mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission, which can be equipped with an optional AutoStick feature that permits manually selected gear changes. A five-speed-manual gearbox will become available at midseason.
Front airbags deploy at one of three levels, based on impact speed and crash severity. Curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows are optional on the sedan. All models have antilock brakes.
The Sebring convertible has considerably more legroom in the backseat than most rivals, which creates comfortable, fun-in-the-sun motoring. Strong performance is likely to slow only if the terrain becomes mountainous. Not only is the convertibles ride nearly glass-smooth, but it remains commendably civilized even when the road surface turns harsher. Maneuvering with an appealing degree of precision, the convertible responds crisply to each of the drivers actions at the wheel, with just a bit of understeer noted at times.
The convertible is more enjoyable and feels less bulky and bulbous than the previous-generation Sebring. It is easy to drive and nicely stable on the highway.
A Sebring sedan with the V-6 engine and automatic transmission also produces a refined experience and an excellent ride. Noise is considerably less noticeable than in Chrysler sedans of the past. A roomy interior and a generous standard-equipment list help make the sedan a worthy, attractively priced alternative to such midsize-class leaders as the Ford Taurus, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.