2008 Chrysler Sebring

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Review: 2007 Chrysler Sebring

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2010.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 7.75

Bottom Line:

Chrysler updates its midsize sedan, the Sebring, and adds Mercedes-like styling outside and improved interior. The Sebring is one of the few midsize sedans to offer three engines, and best of all, its starting price was lowered.
Pros:
  • Lower starting price for 2007
  • Nice handling
  • Mercedes-like styling outside
Cons:
  • Older-style automatic with four speeds
  • Front-passenger seat height
  • Older-style automatic with four speeds

It has been easy for car buyers to forget about the Chrysler Sebring.

After all, the Sebring 4-door car has been a distant also-ran in the competitive midsize sedan segment, where the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord dominate.

But the Sebring is all changed now. For 2007, the Chrysler brand's middle sedan is restyled for a more upscale look, has a taller profile, better ride and handling and more features than its predecessor.

There's more safety equipment, too, helping the 2007 Sebring earn better government front and side crash-test ratings, overall, than its predecessors.

Lower starting price
Best of all, the new Sebring has a lower starting retail price of just over $18,000. This compares with the more than $20,000 starting manufacturer's suggested retail price for the 2006 Sebring sedan.

The new, front-wheel-drive Sebring also is the first Sebring sedan to post a government fuel economy rating of 24 miles per gallon in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway. This is for a 2007 model with the base, 173-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and 4-speed automatic transmission.

The best Sebring government fuel mileage rating in 2006 was 22/30 mpg with a 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission.

Not a baby 300
Don't expect the new Sebring to look like a downsized version of Chrysler's popular 300 large sedan.

Though the bold Chrysler 300 has been a hit in showrooms and among the hip-hop crowd, company officials reportedly discarded the idea of putting the 300 styling on a smaller car.

Instead, they chose to give the Sebring pleasing, upscale styling that's different from the top-selling Japan-branded sedans.

But the Sebring doesn't necessarily look like an American design, either. Indeed, from the front and side, the new Sebring reminds me of a Mercedes-Benz, which isn't difficult to believe since Chrysler is currently owned by Mercedes' parent company.

Many standard features
The 5-passenger Sebring interior is less Mercedes-like, but controls and gauges are well-arranged and standard features are plentiful, even on the base car.

They include power, heated outside mirrors, air conditioning, sliding armrest between the front seats, electroluminescent instrument cluster, driver's seat lumbar adjustment and two power outlets.

A new option is an onboard 20-gigabyte computer hard drive that can handle navigation and information needs as well as personal music and photo storage.

Shoppers also might like the YES Essentials seat fabric that's offered as an option in the base Sebring and standard on the Touring model. It's stain-, fade- and even odor-resistant, according to Chrysler.

I think it looks attractive, is pleasant to rest on—with none of the extreme hot and cold surfaces of leather—and can even be fitted over optional heated seats.

High top of dashboard
At 5 feet 4, I did find the cowl on the Sebring dashboard to be a bit higher than expected.

And with no height adjustment when I sat in the front-passenger seat of the test car, I was straining to look over the top of the dashboard.

Note that drivers get seat height adjustment in all Sebring models and sit 2.5 inches higher than they did in the previous Sebring.

There's 2.5 inches more front-seat headroom and 1.2 inches more shoulder room than in the previous Sebring, too.

But trunk space is reduced from 16 cubic feet last year to 13.6 cubic feet.

Three engine choices
With some 80 percent of buyers of the top-selling midsize sedans taking home cars with 4-cylinder powerplants, it seems a bit odd that Chrysler offers two V6s for the Sebring, in addition to the base four cylinder.

But for shoppers that are selective about engines, the Sebring is a nice change of pace because they're not shoehorned into a power package that doesn't quite please.

The V6 choices are a 189-horsepower 2.7-liter engine that can operate on E85 gasoline containing ethanol and a 3.5-liter V6 generating 235 horsepower that comes with Chrysler's first 6-speed automatic in the Sebring.

My test car's 2.4-liter 4 cylinder provided a sprightly feel, and it generates a noticeable 23 more horsepower than the previous base Sebring. Torque is improved, too, at 166 lb-ft at 4400 rpm, and I liked the overall power well enough that I didn't fret about needing a V6. (But of course, the V6s performed more smoothly and had commendable engine sounds.)

The 4-speed automatic in the tester was a surprise, since 5- and even 6-speeds are in the major competitors, and the test Sebring's automatic hunted among the gears at times, such as when I was traveling in hilly terrain. But again, the top-line Sebring with top V6 doesn't have a 4-speed. It gets a 6-speed automatic.)

Redesigned on a platform that's also used by the Dodge Caliber, the 2007 Sebring handles so much better than its predecessor, it seems like a different car.

It made driving in mountain twisties a pleasure as the new Sebring was predictable and composed in its handling. The overall ride was controlled, yet it wasn't harsh. There was some road and wind noise at highway speeds.

Odds and ends
Note that the Sebring has no handles above the doors to help passengers climb in and out. I can't remember the last time I was in a car that didn't have at least a couple of these handles.

It's true the new Sebring has more standard safety equipment, including curtain airbags, side-mounted airbags for the front seats and anti-lock brakes, than its predecessors.

But electronic stability control, combined with traction control, is optional.

And while the Sebring received five out of five stars in front crash testing by the U.S. government, rear-seat protection in a side crash rated three out of five stars.

Lastly, remember there's another Sebring beyond the sedan. It's the new-for-2008 Sebring Convertible, and it's the first Sebring to offer a retractable hardtop. A fabric top is available, too.

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BB05 - 9/22/2014 9:36:27 PM