2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited Review


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2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyers Guide

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited

If you want an affordable convertible that will comfortably seat four real people and hold actual luggage, as in a set of golf clubs or a couple of overnight bags, you have one choice:

The Chrysler Sebring Convertible.

Yes, there are other four-passenger convertibles available, but they either cost far more or are "four passenger" only if the two in the rear are six years old. Or both. These advantages have kept the Sebring Convertible popular since its debut in 1996.

While there is stylistic continuity with that original Sebring Convertible, the 2010 version is the third generation. Introduced for 2008, it's gotten some mid-cycle revisions -- a new, simplified hood and different wheels outside, and a new instrument panel inside. Three trim levels of the front-wheel drive car are offered: the LX, with a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine matched to a four-speed automatic transmission, the Touring, with a 2.7-liter, 186-hp V6 and four-speed automatic, and the Limited, with a 3.5-liter, 235-hp V6 and six-speed automatic with Auto Stick manual shifting.

An insulated multi-layer power cloth top is standard on all, with a color-matched folding metal top available on the Limited. Neither one requires manual latching, so cloth or metal is merely a personal choice. And a matter of an extra $1,995 to $2.240, depending on color.

I'm about to end a summer week with a cloth-top Limited. The weather has been a bit uncooperative -- I live near the Northern California coast, but about 30 miles inland. We get the "marine layer", thick coastal fog, in the summer, but it usually doesn't make it this far inland. Usually… and this year the weather seems to be anything but usual, everywhere. While the East gets baked and steamed, I get to freeze in the cloud. In the mornings, anyway. By afternoon it will be 80 or 90. Test the heat and air conditioning in one day!

The Sebring Convertible handles it all with aplomb. Want to change the top position? Hold the button on the dash, and it quickly goes up or down as desired. Visibility is more than decent with the top up, thanks to the large, heated glass backlight. Just use the mirrors. Top-down, no problem at all. The 3.5-liter engine has plenty of power for the car's intended mission in life, which is touring, not sports. Ditto for the comfort-oriented suspension. As always, Chrysler's Sebring Convertible is a car for a pleasant cruise with friends or family on the highways or byways.

You may be interested in a Sebring Convertible even if you aren't looking to buy. The car has proven popular in vacation-destination rental fleets, although likely at a lesser trim level than the Limited. If your destination includes sun and scenery, it's a good choice. And, especially for that use, the useable, real, trunk space is a major plus.

APPEARANCE: After nearly fifteen years, the Sebring Convertible is a fixture on American roads, and it still gets looks and compliments. The underlying structure and engines have changed over the years, as have styling details. But the proportions are still very much the same -- a short hood and rear deck emphasize a large cabin opening. Top-down, it's sleekly handsome, and there is no difference between cloth and metal tops as both disappear completely below metal panels. And putting the top up detracts from its good looks not at all, especially with the color-matched hard top. Removal of the strakes on the hood simplifies the styling, for a more cohesive look. Bright complex headlights and the Chrysler signature eggcrate grille with winged logo top trip distinguish it at the front. Creased character lines in the rear fenders and deck add definition.

COMFORT: What's the best thing about the Sebring Convertible? Ask the rear passengers! Even six-foot adults will fit, and in comfort. Access, via latches on the top of the front seats, is painless, even with the top up. Once in place, the back angle is comfortable, headroom not an issue, and knee- and leg-room fine unless the front passenger is exceedingly tall. At the Limited level seating surfaces, most of the steering wheel rim, and shift knob are leather. Both front seats are heatable and have power cushion adjustment -- including height -- with manual back angle. The steering wheel is manually-adjustable for both tilt and reach, and is pleasantly thick, for a good grip, with auxiliary audio controls on the back sides of the spokes and Chrysler's trademark faux-tortoiseshell trim on the top part of the rim. That also adds interest to the door and dash trim. How many guitar picks died for this interior? The IP top and front are textured, soft-touch material, good for banishing windshield glare. Brightly backlit main instruments are easy to read in all light. There's an analog clock at the top of the center stack. With the comprehensive "Media Center 730N" package comes an upgraded AM/FM/Sirius/CD/hard disc/USB/minijack audio system controlled via a simple hard-button and touch-screen interface. USB and jack inputs are in the dash; there is space for a player and a power point in the compartment at the bottom of the stack (unless the "smoker's package" ashtray and lighter are specified). The climate control system works quickly and simply. Everyone gets a cupholder, and small door pockets are augmented by a locking glovebox. A moveable safety divider in the trunk allows a commodious 13.1 cubic feet of storage with the top up. Placed to allow top operation, there is still 6.6 cft available, plenty for a couple of carry-on bags or more.

SAFETY: The newest Sebring Convertible is rated by NHTSA at four stars (out of five) for driver frontal crash protection, and five for the front passenger. Both front and rear seats get five stars for side impact protection, and the car has a four-star rating for rollover protection. Multi-stage frontal, front seat side, and side -impact air bags are standard, as are four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Traction control and electronic stability control are available.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Chrysler further improved the Sebring Convertible's rigidity in the 2008 redesign, and that shows in the soft-top's quiet interior, very minimal cowl shake, and smooth, comfortable ride. While the fully-independent MacPherson strut/multilink suspension is tuned softly, for maximum comfort, damping is matched to spring rates so there are no unwanted aftereffects of road irregularities. It's not "sports", but it is sporty.

PERFORMANCE: Here too, with the 3.5-liter V6, the Sebring Convertible is not "sports" but definitely sporty and more than quick enough for daily duties. With 235 horsepower (at 6400 rpm) and 232 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, and good low- and mid-range torque, the single overhead cam, 24-valve engine works well in all day-to-day acceleration and merging situations. The six-speed automatic helps, with closer ratios than a four- or five-speed. EPA fuel economy is 16 mpg city, 27 highway. In a week of mostly city and backroad driving, and as little highway as possible, I averaged 20 mpg. And even more smiles per gallon…

CONCLUSIONS: Improvements inside and out keep the Chrysler Sebring Convertible at the top of its class.

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited

Base Price			$ 32,710
Price As Tested			$ 35,330
Engine Type			SOHC 24-valve V6
Engine Size			3.5 liters / 221 cu. in.
Horsepower			235 @ 6400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			232 @ 4000 rpm
Transmission			6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		108.9 in. / 193.8 in.
Curb Weight			3959 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		16.9
Fuel Capacity			16.9 gal.
Fuel Requirement		89 octane unleaded mid-grade gasoline recommended
Tires				P215/55 R18 94T
				 Bridgestone Turanza EL 400
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc. ABS standard,
				 traction and stability control optional
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				  front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		16 / 27 / 20
0 to 60 mph				est 8.5  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Inferno Red Crystal Perl exterior paint			$  245
Customer Preferred Package 26G - includes:
  electronic stability control, traction control	$  425
Media Center 730N - includes:
  6.5-inch touch screen display, 1 year SIRIUS
  Traffic Service, 30GB Hard drive, GPS navigation,
  auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone,
  UConnect phone with voice command			$ 1,200
Destination charge					$   750

Complete specifications on the 2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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