Different but unrefined. It's also not that cheap (other than in the quality of the plastics).

What is it?

It’s Chrysler’s upmarket effort in the D-segment, which means it picks up where the cheaper Dodge Avenger left off (they exchange the baton at £17,995) and takes on Mondeo, Vectra, Accord and Avensis. Actually, Chrysler is really targeting the Honda and Toyota, believing that their more elderly customer base will be attracted by the Sebring’s different looks and hefty kit list.

Just one spec is available – Limited – which perversely is packed with kit. There are only three option boxes to tick: metallic paint, sat-nav (which also includes a 20Gb entertainment system) and sat-nav with sunroof. So as standard you get an MP3 CD player, air-con, heated seats, cruise control, traction control and tyre pressure monitors.

There are only three variants in the range, then: the 2.0-litre 154bhp petrol (five-speed gearbox only), a 2.4-litre 167bhp petrol (four-speed auto ’box only) and a 138bhp turbodiesel, which comes with a six-speed manual. Chrysler expects the £18,995 oil-burner to account for around 70 per cent of Sebring sales.

What’s it like?

First impressions aren’t bad. It’s more distinctive than a Mondeo, even if it can appear a little ungainly and while it comes with 18in wheels as standard, they still look small within high-profile rubber that borders on the chunky.

Inside, there’s just about enough room for four adults and there are some neat touches, like a cup holder that can cool cans and keep coffee warm (a very American feature, that). But while the dashboard is neat, it is swathed in a cacophony of plastics that range from above average quality and soft to the touch to downright nasty nail-file territory.

On the road, the Sebring wants to be more dynamic than it ever could be; the VW engine is particularly noisy but it’s gutsy with it, and a slick gearbox with a positive action helps to encourage spirited driving.

There, I’m afraid, the chassis intervenes. It’s an odd blend, really, for it feels stiffly sprung and yet poor body control means that it still wallows in corners and gets a shimmy on when road surfaces deteriorate. The steering is oddly weighted too, and too vague around centre.

The result is a car whose drivetrain is happy enough to press on, but whose handling characteristics aren’t up to coping when you do.

Should I buy one?

Chrysler won’t say how many Sebrings it hopes to sell but it admits its targets are ‘modest’, which is to say a few thousand examples, not tens of thousands.

It’s right to be cautious, for while the Sebring is different from the class norm, it achieves this for too many of the wrong reasons. It doesn’t do a good enough job as a driver’s car to live up to its sporty styling touches, so keen motorists will simply walk on by and go straight to a Ford dealership for a Mondeo (if they’ve any sense).

And the grey pound? I can’t see OAPs being swayed by bonnet strakes, even less by a hard disk-based entertainment system that would make programming the video recorder seem as simple as turning on a light switch. And when all’s said and done, £18,995 doesn’t seem that cheap when the interiors of Honda Accords or VW Passats are much more pleasant places to be.

John McIlroy

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Comments
16

SDR

20 February 2009

Good Christ would you just look at that thing?! Ha! It's so appalling it actually made me laugh when I clicked the link. Dear old Chrysler... if it was a horse, you'd shoot it.

20 February 2009

The Sebring is a bit of a conundrum - its the size of a 5 series, with bags of interior space, quite 'american' handling, very American butch looks (from the front at least). It is supposedly the premium version of the Dodge Avenger (what a cool name that is though!) - yet the real deal price is substantially cheaper than the Dodge! I picked up mine for £13k as a new car, ordered to my specification, (well, my clour plus parking sensors - there aren't really many options).....

What's more, with their finance package, I've got a guarenteed future value of about 8k after 2 years. So - 5k depreciation over 2 years as a maximum on a large family car.... And I've averaged over 50mpg since new (highest 65.8 on a longer motorway journey).

So - taking deals into account and not just list prices, and real world ecconomy, I reckon its a bit of a bargain - an unsung hero for the daily commute. Plus its got a decent stereo as standard, and (touch wood) nothing has broken, fallen off or disappeared since I bought it (something I've not always been able to say about more 'premium' brands I've bought in the past.....

I would love to hear anyone else's views....

20 February 2009

Love it to bits.

20 February 2009

What an ugly car. Designed for the elderly, apparently. Best left for the elderly folk of Florida.

20 February 2009

We had one of these (convertible petrol version) as a hire car in Las Vegas. It was comfortable enough to cruise in on the long desert roads, and indeed the stereo sounded fine.

There it stops. The first car was returned (this took about an hour as the car parks are so far from the hotel), due to a broken bit of plastic in the boot which stopped the roof from operating. Once we had one that worked, it was dreadfully slow and didn't compare to Euro cars dynamics in any way.

Bizarrely, upon returning from said holiday we found that our neighbour has bought one. He's in his 60's so probably appreciates it's laid back ways.

I would imagine a limited market for it here as mentioned.

28 September 2009

I test drove one of these before buying a Chevrolet Epica, with the odd characteristics of my employer's car allowance scheme favouring such cars. I found the Epica to be preferable by far.

28 September 2009

i must confess to a soft spot for the Sebring. i drove from SanFrancisco,down highway 1 to LA and then on to Vegas recently in a convertible version and whilst we can all laugh at the quality of its interior plastics etc, it was a very confortable cruiser and the dashboard and interior was actually a nice design.

my everyday car is a BMW and i have worked for BMW, Mercedes or Porsche all my working life so i know exactly how the 'benchmark' cars should be but i just thought it was worth saying that in my opinion this car isnt as hopeless as the motoring press make out.

28 September 2009

[quote DCFCM]I test drove one of these before buying a Chevrolet Epica[/quote]

A rock and a hard place?

28 September 2009

[quote supermanuel]A rock and a hard place?
[/quote]

Tried either? No? Thought not.

28 September 2009

Saw one of these on the M40 the other day with big wheels, spoliers and two white stripes running the whole lenght of the car.

The most rediculous thing I'd seen in ages, until yesterday that is I saw a Vauxhall Omega with a BMW kidney grill and Impreza bonnet air scoop stuck on.

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