The totally redesigned 2007 Sebring midsize sedan has the unenviable spot of being Chrysler's first all-new car since the 300 full-size sedan, a runaway success credited with reversing Chrysler's flagging fortunes. Breakout models like the 300 don't come around all that often, and back-to-back hits are even more uncommon. While I like the Sebring's ride quality on the highway and its available entertainment features, the driving experience is marred by a tight, ill-fitting cabin and a merely adequate base powertrain.
Exterior & Styling
On the outside, the Sebring has little in common with the hulking 300; its grille and headlights remind me of the Crossfire roadster. Like the Crossfire, the Sebring also has the brand's now-signature hood strakes.
From the hood to the back, the Sebring has a number of different design elements in play. There's a strong crease in the side doors and an arcing C-pillar that descends into a stubby rear deck. I don't find the Sebring especially attractive, but I commend Chrysler for taking a chance with the Sebring's looks instead of producing another conservatively styled midsize sedan.
Base Sebrings have standard 16-inch steel wheels and wheel covers, while the midrange Touring and top-of-the-line Limited have 17-inch aluminum wheels. Aluminum or chrome-plated 18-inch rims are optional.
Ride & Handling
The Touring model I tested had a considerably softer ride than most midsize competitors. However, while those competitors quickly settle themselves after hitting a big dip in the road, the Sebring unfortunately bobs up and down a few times; it's the closest thing you'll find to a Lincoln Town Car in this class. At highway speeds, that floatiness disappears and the car morphs into a poised cruiser.
Sebrings have a four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars. The sedan initially leans into fast corners, but digs in when pushed faster, resisting additional body roll. The steering wheel takes a little effort to turn, but the driver is rewarded with a direct response from the front wheels. Though it's no different from many other midsize sedans, the steering wheel provides minimal feedback.
Going & Stopping
Three engines are offered in the front-wheel-drive Sebring. My test car featured the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's standard in Base, Touring and Limited sedans. A 2.7-liter V-6 that runs on regular gasoline or E85 ethanol is optional for the Touring, and Limiteds can have a 3.5-liter V-6. (In California and states that have adopted California emissions regulations, the 2.7-liter V-6 can only use gas, not E85.) Even though more competitors are exclusively using five- and six-speed automatic transmissions in order to enhance performance and gas mileage, both the four-cylinder and 2.7-liter V-6 drive a four-speed automatic. The 3.5-liter V-6 teams with a six-speed automatic that features Chrysler's AutoStick clutchless-manual mode.
|Chrysler Sebring Engines|
|2.4-liter I-4||2.7-liter V-6||3.5-liter V-6|
|173 @ 6,000||189 @ 6,400||235 @ 6,400|
(lbs.-ft. @ rpm)
|166 @ 4,400||191 @ 4,000||232 @ 4,000|
|Required fuel||Regular||Regular or E85||Regular|
|24/32||22/30 (gas) 15/22 (E85)||19/28|
The four-cylinder engine provides acceptable performance in city driving, but it runs out of power at highway speeds, where it lacks any kind of urgency when acceleration is called for. However, the four-speed automatic shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly when necessary.
Front-disc and rear-drum brakes — an increasingly uncommon setup — are standard, but Touring and Limited models can have optional all-disc brakes. The brake pedal has a reassuringly firm feel to it when depressed, and it's easy to modulate the brakes to produce a smooth stop.
The five-seat cabin has standard cloth seating surfaces but is available with YES Essentials fabric — which resists stains, odors and static — or two-tone leather-trimmed seats. Manually adjustable front seats with lumbar support are standard, and a power driver's seat is optional; a power-adjustable front passenger seat isn't offered. Manual air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and heated power mirrors are standard.
The interior is finished in silver-color trim and chrome. Limited versions add "tortoise shell" trim — which looks a bit like shiny burled wood — on the dash, doors and steering wheel. Most trim pieces fit together snugly, but the turn signal stalk and directionally adjustable LED map lights feel cheap.
Though the Sebring's 102.5-cubic-foot cabin is larger than both the Toyota Camry's and Ford Fusion's, it feels smaller, especially in front. Not helping matters is the cloth seat's narrow bottom cushion, whose side bolsters squeeze front occupants' thighs. If you've driven a Sebring with leather seats, email me and let me know what you think of them.
The 60/40-split, folding rear seat is on the firm side, but it's nonetheless comfortable. Legroom for adults is acceptable, but there's not a lot of extra space to let your legs roam.
Antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags are standard. An electronic stability system is optional for Touring and Limited models. As of publication, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash tested the 2007 Sebring.
Cargo & Towing
Among midsize sedans, the Sebring's 13.6-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side, and loading bags into it requires lifting them over a relatively tall rear bumper. Folding the rear seats reveals a sizable opening between the trunk and passenger cabin for carrying longer items. Touring and Limited models have a fold-flat front passenger seat for hauling really long cargo.
The Sebring's maximum trailer towing capacities are competitive for this class, and vary by engine size. Four-cylinder models can tow up to 1,000 pounds, while Sebrings with the 2.7-liter V-6 can haul 1,500 pounds. Opting for the 3.5-liter V-6 brings a 2,000-pound towing capacity.
Entertainment options include Sirius Satellite Radio, Chrysler's Bluetooth-based UConnect hands-free phone system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 7-inch screen between the front seats, and a MyGIG navigation and multimedia system. MyGIG's 20GB hard drive can store music files and images uploaded from a disc or USB flash drive. When using Sirius Satellite Radio's real-time traffic data, the MyGIG navigation system can also suggest a new route to avoid an accident. When the car is in Park, DVDs can play on MyGIG's 6.5-inch touch-screen display.
The Sebring is also available with a heated and cooled front cupholder that's capable of heating drinks to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or cooling them to 35 degrees.
Sebring in the Market
The Sebring hasn't been one of the heavy hitters in the family sedan segment to date, and its standing doesn't appear poised to significantly change with the launch of the 2007 model. Though it has its strong points, it doesn't excel in enough areas to warrant an exodus from established category leaders like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. In short, it's no 300.
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Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||November 8, 2006|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||September 1, 2006|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||March 31, 2007|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||February 23, 2007|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||January 28, 2007|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit Newspapers||November 29, 2006|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||November 19, 2006|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||October 11, 2006|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||August 16, 2006|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||July 15, 2006|
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