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1996 Chrysler Sebring Overview
Buying a sporty coupe is almost always an exercise in left-brain/right-brain conflict. Sure, you want snazzy good looks and lots of mile-eating performance, but you'd also appreciate some comfort, fuel economy and civility as well. Including room in the back for adult-size passengers. Is that too much to ask from one car? Chrysler thinks not, and offers up its Sebring--and the near-identical Dodge Avenger--sport coupes as proof. On the surface, they seem like the ideal have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too cars; all gain, no pain. Sebring and Avenger suggest that you can enjoy driving pleasure and distinctive styling without having to endure a harsh ride or contort rear-seat passengers into pretzels. Seen from this perspective, Sebring and Avenger seem to have no direct competition. The Mazda MX-6 and Mitsubishi Eclipse (for example) are smaller, the Ford Thunderbird and Chevy Monte Carlo are bigger. Others are faster but not as comfort-oriented. This is a serious effort on Chrysler's part, but it's no bet-the-farm major gamble. What you see on the outside is new, but Sebring and Avenger are based on familiar hardware, mostly from Mitsubishi, and are built in the Normal, Illinois facility that turns out Mitsubishi Galants and Eclipses, as well as Eagle Talons. The Mitsubishi connection pays dividends in the area of quality. Simply stated, Sebring and Avenger are the best-built Chrysler products we've encountered in recent experience, displaying high levels of finish and material quality. There are two models of Chrysler's cloned coupes--the Sebring LX and LXi, the base and ES Avenger. As you'd expect, the more expensive Sebring lineup includes more standard comfort and convenience features. The basic Avenger ($14,040) is a little less hedonistic, though far from bare bones. Our test car was a Sebring LXi.