SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 24,495 Price As Tested $ 25,070 Engine Type SOHC 24-valve 2.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 152 cid/2497 cc Horsepower 168 @ 5800 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 170 @ 4350 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 106.0"/70.1"/192.6" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3492 pounds Fuel Capacity 16.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P205/65R15 all season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Four-passenger/two-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.36 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/26/22 0-60 MPH 11.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 18.0 seconds @ 79.0 mph Top speed 115 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(Chryslers were family institutions when Matt Hagin was growing up. His father Bob says that the new Chrysler Sebring drop-top is nice, but some members of the big family would have had to stay home back then.)
BOB - Chrysler isn't the oldest American auto name around but at 76 years, it's no newcomer either. It made convertible two-doors back in the days of the land-leviathans with back seats large enough for six-man volleyball games when their tops were down. Along with the other domestic auto makers, it went out of the convertible business in the early 1970s. Even the little British open roadsters fell from favor and disappeared about that time. But Chrysler beat the other domestics to the resurrection of the convertible in 1982 with a drop-top version of its K-car. It was front-wheel drive and pretty small but it was one of the cars that helped get Chrysler back on it's feet after its turbulent times. I still have a promo shot we took of that car when it was new with your brother Terry behind the wheel.
MATT - This new Sebring Convertible comes in three degrees of trim, the basic JX like ours, the step-up JXi and the top-line JXi Limited. It isn't a road-yacht like those old-timers, but then it isn't a puddle- jumper either. It's built on the Chrysler Cirrus sedan platform with two inches lopped out of the center. It's styling is clean and crisp and it's almost as good-looking with the top up as it is with the top down. The interior has more room than many standard four-door sedans. Its doors are exceptionally long and open wide, so it's easy to get in and out of the back seat but those doors have a down-side, too. The average parking lot space is pretty narrow for the Sebring and it's hard to not bang the doors of the car next to you. The Sebring convert isn't a particularly fast or quick car and its handling on a curving road is pretty average. But it doesn't have to be a hot performer in the market for which it was designed. Chrysler says it's part of the "specialty segment," so it's a just-for-fun car. Almost three-quarters of the owners of older Sebring convertibles have second or third cars and the average owner is in the 30-to-50 age group. The majority of them are female. Although it's supposed to be a fair-weather car, the top is snug enough to be quite comfortable in rain or snow. In the past couple of years, there's been some complaining about too much road noise, so Chrysler engineers packed in some additional sound-deadening material.
BOB - At 2.5 liters, the powerplant is little on the small side for a 3500-pound car. It's a fairly sophisticated V6 unit with single overhead cams operating four valves per cylinder. It puts out 168 horsepower with just a little bit more torque which gives it pretty good highway pulling power. The transmission in our basic JX model is a ubiquitous four-speed automatic, which seems to have a tendency to "hunt" on inclines. The more upscale JX Limited has an automatic/ stick-shift called AutoStick, which would add a lot to the fun quotient of the car. Our car had standard 15-inch wheels with all-season tires. A Touring package that's available in the JX model brings in 16-inch wheels and grippier tires which should make the car more interesting on sweeping turns. Unfortunately, there's no traction control system offered on our JX model and the Limited version of JXi is the only one that has rear disc brakes, although anti-lock brakes are standard on all Sebring Convertible models. It would be nice if rear disc brakes were standard on all cars, but discs are more expensive and price is one of the main motivators of Sebring Convertible's buyers.
MATT - The Chrysler Sebring is the most popular and best-selling convertible model in the U.S. and it's held this position for many years. In fact, it far outsells the coupe version of the Sebring. The coupe version isn't even built on the same platform and although it has basically the same engine, it comes in two degrees of tune and both of them put out a little less horsepower than the convertible.
BOB - I'm glad the convertible has made a comeback and that the other auto makers around the world followed suite. A convertible is a lot like a tuxedo, Matt. Every guy looks good in one.