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2009 Chrysler Sebring ReviewThe Good
The Sebring's smooth ride, classic looks, and plentiful interior space all add up to a great overall package in a competitive midsize sedan.The Bad
A miniscule trunk and structural instability in Sebring Convertibles make people shy away from what could be a pleasant option for top-down driving, and interior materials leave many feeling cold.
The CarGurus View
The Sebring is simply one of the safest cars you can drive, and overall a good choice in the midsize market. If it’s top-down fun you’re looking for, opt for the 3.5-liter engine and don’t expect much trunk space.
At a Glance
The Chrysler Sebring, available as a four-door front-wheel-drive sedan or a two-door front-wheel-drive convertible, has always been a popular choice in the midsize market. With speculation that major changes are ahead, perhaps as early as 2010, it’d be easy to dismiss the 2009 Sebring. This however, would be doing a major disservice to a car that has been rated as the safest in its class, and a fun car to drive besides.
For 2009, the all-wheel-drive option previously available has been deleted, as well as the power convertible top that was standard in the base trim last year.
The base convertible trim and all sedans get a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. Optional for the Touring sedan and standard in the Touring Convertible is a 2.7-liter V6, which is E85 friendly. However, it’s not much of an upgrade from the four, producing only 13 additional hp and 25 additional lb-ft of torque. Optional for the Limited sedan and standard in the Limited Convertible is one final V6, a 3.5-liter with 235 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.5-liter comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with Chrysler’s Autostick manual shifting, while the remaining two powerplants are mated to a four-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is impressive, with the four-cylinder achieving numbers of 21/30 mpg, while the 2.7-liter V6 will do 18/26 on regular gasoline and 12/19 on E85, shedding 1 mpg in convertible form. Quite impressive is the 3.5-liter V6, which still shows with 16/27, despite more than adequate horsepower and torque figures. All models are front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive no longer offered, as previously mentioned.
Ride & Handling
Jettisoning the traditional MacPherson strut system the Sebring’s short/long-arm suspension front and rear provides an excellent ride and impressive handling that has been a strong point with owners since its introduction last year. A wishbone front independent suspension with stabilizer bar and coil springs, and a multi-link rear independent suspension with coil springs, is standard across all trims.
Whereas many in the midsize class have focused their suspensions on crisp handling, almost to a fault, the Sebring is more concerned with providing a comfortable ride for the long haul, making sure that driving it is never a tiring experience.
Cabin & Comfort
Impressive interior space provides adequate room for all five passengers, although of the four passengers the convertible will fit, adults in the back seat will feel confined. Interior materials have left many feeling cold, although design, fit, and finish are all above average for the class.
Particular criticism has focused on the fake wood used in the console and the "leather" used in the bucket seats, which has been described as close to "an old naugahyde jacket." Gauge faces have been a favorite among consumers, with a visible white face during the day dimming to a pleasing blue when the sun goes down. Watch for small side-view mirrors, which have been described as slightly less than adequate.
The available rear-seat DVD entertainment system as well as the MyGig audio system set the Sebring apart from its competitors and have both received praise from reviewers and owners alike.
The Sebring was notable for being the safest car in its class in 2008, and ratings for 2009 haven’t faltered; it earned five stars in every category from the NHTSA. All trims come with four-wheel antilock brakes and traction control; front, side impact, and side curtain airbags in both first and second rows; and low tire pressure indicators.
What Owners Think
The Sebring's sleek styling and impressive handling have been marred by limited trunk space, especially in the Convertible. Cowl shake and general instability have also been noted in the Convertible, which is decidedly anemic without the optional 3.5-liter. Many have complained about the interior, described as cold, hard, and unwelcoming.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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