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Chrysler Sebring offers distinctive styling, roomy interiors and big trunks. Sebring models come in convertible, sedan, and coupe body styles. All offer room for five, but the three body styles are quite distinctive and should be viewed individually.
For starters, the sedan, coupe, and convertible differ in their basic structure. The sedan is largely a Chrysler engineering effort, the coupe is based on a Mitsubishi platform, and the convertible uses some elements from each. There are interior differences and styling variations and the engines and transmissions differ.
The convertible stands out by combining style and top-down motoring with a roomy interior and attractive pricing. A restyled front fascia freshens the appearance of the convertible for 2004. Overall, the Sebring is a compelling choice for someone who desires the free spirit of a convertible, but also wants seating for five people. The Sebring serves the role of practical convertible well. Getting in and out of it is easy, which is important when running errands, and its big trunk makes it far more practical than most convertibles. Likewise, its smooth ride makes for a comfortable daily driver, whether riding around town or on long trips.
The sedan has a tougher row in a highly competitive field of midsize sedans. The Sebring sedan answers this call with distinctive styling, a pleasant, airy cabin, and a spacious trunk with a 60/40 split folding rear seat. It's also rated well in terms of safety: The Sebring sedan earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Administration in its frontal crash test and a favorable rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its 40-mph offset frontal crash test. A restyled fascia freshens the looks of the sedan for 2004.
The coupe combines the sporty styling of a two-door with the practicality of a rear seat and a decent-sized trunk.
All three body styles are available with a V6 engine that delivers responsive performance. However, the base four-cylinder engine is quite competent. The Sebring model lineup has been revamped for 2004, but there are only minor changes to the vehicles themselves.
The Chrysler Sebring is an enjoyable car to drive, whether coupe, convertible or sedan. It's no sports car, but feels tight and precise at speed, and nimble and confident without a lot of body lean in corners. At the same time, it offers a smooth, comfortable ride. There's plenty of power from the available V6 engine and we enjoyed the base four-cylinder.
When equipped with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the Sebring feels energetic through the gears. The electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission is quiet and efficient and works surprisingly well with the four-cylinder engine. Geared for stop-and-go city driving, the Sebring feels quick and accelerates briskly onto the freeway.
The optional V6 is smoother and generates more thrust. It delivers crisp acceleration performance from a standstill and responds quickly for passing maneuvers at freeway speeds. The 2.7-liter V6 used in the sedan and convertible uses an aluminum block fitted with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. It delivers 200 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 190 pounds-feet of torque at 4850 rpm. It also offers respectable fuel economy (an EPA-estimated 21/28 mpg) and operates on regular-grade gasoline. The exhaust emits a pleasant burble when idling. The 3.0-liter V6 in the coupe generates 200 hp at 5500 rpm and 205 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. It's a single overhead-cam design with four valves per cylinder.
Chrysler's optional AutoStick provides shift-it-yourself control of the automatic. The AutoStick is fun to play with when you're in a sporty mood. But the standard automatic mode works just fine for everyday use, where it shifts quietly and efficiently. The available 5-speed manual gearbox is easy to shift with smooth clutch engagement and easy up-shifts.
The Sebring suspension is fully independent and remains composed even in bumpy corners. Sedan and convertible share most suspension components, but a rear anti-roll bar on some models reduces understeer for sportier handling. Rack-and-pinion steering gives the Sebring a crisp feel. The coupe delivers a nice ride quality, but you do hear and feel bumps.
Anti-lock brakes are optional, but we recommend them. Chrysler's ABS Plus includes a software extension that senses when you're braking and turning at the same time, a tricky situation from a car control standpoint. Chrysler's system aids the driver in this situation by controlling the vehicle's yaw for improved stability. This is particularly useful on varying road surfaces, when the right side of the car is on a different type of surface than the left side. Other brake improvements include electronic brake distribution, which balances the brakes front to rear for improved stability and shorter stopping distances.
The Chrysler Sebring line comes in three body styles. The sedan offers a spacious and comfortable passenger compartment wrapped in a sleek, sporty skin. It offers value when compared with mid-size import sedans. The coupe manages to fit a spacious passenger compartment inside the sensuous lines of a two-door. The convertible works well for people who don't want to be cramped in a sports car, but want to feel the wind in their hair and look good. Unlike most convertibles, the Sebring offers a roomy, comfortable interior. It's stylish and fun, but won't break the bank. If it does, drop the top and whisk those cares away.