By on February 17, 2010

Well, the death of the Sebring name anyway. The Detroit Free Press reveals some of the first details about Chrysler’s all-important refresh of the Sebring/Avenger, a vehicle that CEO Sergio Marchionne recently admitted (in what was surely a Lutzie-award-worthy understatement) is “not the most loved car by car enthusiasts.” The biggest detail: it won’t be named Sebring. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that the Sebring’s issues are less related to a tepid reaction from the enthusiast market, and have more to do with the fact that even the least car-literate Americans recognize the Sebring name as a symbol for all that is wrong with America’s auto industry.

Marchionne reveals:

We’ve rolled up our sleeves and have torn apart that architecture. You’ll see a completely different animal. We’re having a discussion about what name this animal should have. The jury is still out.

And though the Freep notes that “tearing apart the architecture” (a technical term) can yield results in terms of ride and handling, it frets that Chrysler may be somewhat limited in the changes it can make to the Sebring and Avenger. Certainly styling (another problem area for the Sebring) can only be tweaked so much in a year (Chrysler’s latest product plan reportedly dates back to early last summer), and the only possible powertrain “intervention” hinted at by Marchionne is the introduction of Fiat’s “MultiAir” valve timing technology to the 2.4 liter GEM engine. That might improve efficiency by as much as ten percent, but the possibility of integrating it by the end of the year is far from certain.

Ride and handling are by far the Sebring’s worst dynamic elements, and there’s little doubt that a year of fettling by Fiat’s engineers will improve the car in this respect. The Caliber’s new interior lights the way out of Fisher-Price territory for the Avengbring’s passenger space, but will only carry it as far as the land of unremarkable adequacy. Meanwhile, there are brakes, seats, and build quality in need of attention.

But frankly, the most important aspect of the Sebring refresh, especially in light of the planned name change, will be changes to the car’s styling.  Removing the hideous hood strakes has already been tried, and hasn’t made much of a difference. The Sebring is such a fundamentally ugly car that it will take more than minor revisions to remove all memory of the hot, fussy mess that Chrysler fields in a segment that requires nothing more than anonymous styling. The biggest mistake that Chrysler could make with its “intervention” would be to change the Sebring’s name while retaining clearly identifiable visual cues from the old car. The Sebring is infamous enough (and not just with enthusiasts) that visual reminders of the old, bad car will eliminate any advantages of the overhaul’s improvements, as consumers have seen past the cynical name-change-game before. How Chrysler will achieve this on its one year timeline remains one of the biggest open questions in the car business today.

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36 Comments on “Marchionne Confirms The Death Of The Sebring...”


  • avatar
    Facebook User

    Kill it! Kill it! Kill it ’til it’s dead! (Oh, you’re talking about the Sebring? Thought you meant Chrysler…)

    Sad to think how proud Chrysler once was of the Sebring nameplate. It wasn’t too long ago — 1996 — the name was rightfully attached to a very classy and contemporary convertible (and, ugh, a rebadged Mitsubishi abortion of a coupe.)

  • avatar
    segfault

    They should go back to calling the sedan a Cirrus.

    You know, I remember the Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze and the Contour/Mystique being very heavily marketed as vehicles that were serious contenders to the Accord and Camry (this time, for real, we mean it, honest)! I wonder what the actual TCO and number of repairs on comparable 1996 models were?

    • 0 avatar
      CommanderFish

      The Sebring is actually still called the Cirrus in Mexico, both sedan and convertible forms.

      I own one of the first gen Cloud Cars, as they were called (a Breeze). I’m still very satisfied with it. The interior has seen better days, but it has been mechanically reliable and cheap to run, not to mention better-handling than Chrysler’s latest midsize vehicles.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Confirmed?

    Perhaps ‘admits’ or ‘finally acknowledges’…

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    How about a reskin to mimic the Chrysler 200c concept?

  • avatar
    BDB

    Yeah, bring back Cirrus. Just don’t call the Dodge version an Aries.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Sebring name needs to hibernate for about 30 years before it can safely reappear.

    I don’t think they should waste any resources trying to fix the Sebring. Just let it go as-is, and discount it like crazy.

    Put the money into a new platform with a new name.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    That’s a step in the right direction … out with the old and in with the new. I never was a fan of that (German) design either and it looked too much like the Nissan Altima … blahh.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    “Sebring” … such a name rich with history. It’s a name that conveys a sport. Adrenaline. Excitement.

    There are lots of great racetracks in America. I think the one that most suits the Sebring is not Sebring.

    It’s Mid-Ohio.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    First they killed the Lebaron. Then the Neon. Now this!

    Something has to give here! We need to resurrect what was once sacred. Dynasty, Daytona, Premiere, Talon, Laser… these were beautiful names attached to cars that were the essence of an All-American car company.

    What’s this about Kool-Aid? Well I did have a few drinks of cherry last weekend with a healthy dose of Red 40 and Blue 5 in the mix. Did I mention my recent investment in Toyota?

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    This used to be a good-looking car. I won’t miss it now

  • avatar
    210delray

    To do a half-decent restyle, Fiatsler needs to start with that awful C-pillar blackout triangle. Either give the car a true Hofmeister kink or extend the side glass to form a point. Then ditch those horrible “scalloped” headlights. They’re about 5 years past their prime. Finally, reshape those enormous taillights and segment them into amber, red, and clear sections.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    Ride and handling are by far the Sebring’s worst dynamic elements
    I guess that implies the only good dynamics are experienced when the car is parked?

    Looking at the pics of the 2010 model, I think the front end looks ok – the lights are kind of like a Mercedes or Hyundai XG350. The dash styling is a mishmash of circles, semicircles, and angular lines, which looks awkward. The rear is similar to a 90s Corolla – forgettable but not too horrid, save for the trademark odd uncovered silver ribbed rectangle under the car’s rear bumper that looks like a muffler or gas tank. The profile view of the car is unappealing, though. The “character line” (crease) is reminiscent of a 90s Saturn that was really a rebadged Buick, and the high beltline makes the car look cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Can you please name this mid 90s Saturn rebadged Buick ? Or even 00 one that was supposed to be a Buick ?

      I agree with your assessment, but not getting the visual you’re describing as I don’t think it ever existed.

      The Sebring does look like an ION that was based on the Delta which Opel had a hand in developing and used to be sold by Buick…… ,-}

      It’s still not as awful as a Matrix or a Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Man, this is the harshest crowd on earth.

    That rig does look a bit busy on the exterior. Sometimes, less is more.

    And it probably costs less, too.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    We rented one of the ugly Sebrings last time we were in Hawaii, and parked next to an identical car with the next consecutive license number, as sometimes happens on the Big Island where there are more rented cars than privately-owned ones. (Actually I don’t know if that’s true, but there are more rental outfits than car dealers in the phone book.) Anyway, as I said, it was ugly but it didn’t handle all that great. The Chrysler Cirrus we rented several years ago was a better handling, better looking car.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    First, it is a terrible, terrible car. My mother has one for some reason. Awful to get into for anyone over 5’6″. Uncomfortable when you get there. Poor riding, and driving. Very unpleasant experience.

    However, I live near the Sterling Heights plant. Friends work there. And they will be affected. The local businesses will be screwed.

  • avatar
    don1967

    There’s nothing wrong with the Sebring that a good automotive designer couldn’t fix. I’ll put in a call to Homer Simpson first thing in the morning.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I rented a Sebring Touring last summer for a road trip. It had a decent stereo but the rest of the car was awful, one of the worst cars I have driven in many years. It had NOTHING to like.

    I worked many years for Chrysler. Their cars, for the most part, were always total crap. They never had the volume to put quality parts in their cars. They relied on advertising and styling to sell the cars. The LH cars drove great until they had about 60,000 km on them and then magically self destructed. The Cloud cars were a little better but not much.

    If Chrysler died tomorrow, who would miss it?

    • 0 avatar
      Jerry Sutherland

      “If Chrysler died tomorrow, who would miss it?”
      I guess you didn’t pension out with Chrysler.
      PS-did you ever build any Chryslers with gas pedals that sent customers through intersections at Warp 9?

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      Jerry, I’d question whether or not anybody else built a car with faulty gas pedals. 8,000,000 Toyotas. 200 deaths attributed to a gas pedal without a conclusive investigation by NHTSA. Meanwhile, one out of four drivers uses a cellphone while driving.

      I think we might be allowing the government to recall the cars, rather than irresponsible drivers. The real number of “unintended acceleration” could be quite different.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Confirms the death of the Sebring???

    They sold 3,000 units in January and that was an increase in sales for that car. How many Accords sold in January? Multiples more.

    The Sebring has been dead for a long time. It just took Sweater Boy Marchionne a little longer to figure that out.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    My experience with the current Sebring is limited to several rental experiences, not ownership. Apart from the horrible resale value, I have issues even considering the purchase of one. It may be something inherent in the platform on which it’s built (GS/JS/MK?).

    The Sebring and Avenger are like an awkward middle child. The actual measurements may contradict this, but they seem smaller than a midsize, while being thirstier and bulkier than a compact. In doing so it has limited appeal, as the product ends up with the worst attributes of the compact and midsize classes.

    The other issue I have is one shared by all vehicles built on this platform, as well as all Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps that were designed in the later Daimler-Chrysler years. It feels like someone decided that adding steel was the cheapest way to make the vehicle feel solid. So you end up with tiny windows, huge sills/jambs/posts and thick doors. It makes for a bulky feeling vehicle, and all of this structure seems to cut into usable interior space.

    I wish the design team the best of luck with this revision, but I’m afraid that it’s ultimately going to take a complete redesign to produce a competitive product.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    Contrary to what most people think, this “refresh” has been in the works for nearly three years now. It was in the planning stages well before I was laid off from Chrysler.

    Expect a little more than the normal fascia and interior upgrades. Think more along the lines of the most recent Ford Focus. The whole body and character of the car was changed while maintaining the previous platform and door openings. The same kind of “refresh” is expected with the Chrysler D-seg cars. Expect them to take it a step further with the new Pentastar V6 and possibly even the Fiat dual-clutch manual/auto trans since they were previously working on integrating the defunct “Indiana” dual-clutch trans.

    Besides all of this, the Sebring was never a horrible-looking car. It was just horribly out-classed by its competition.

    Good luck Chrysler!

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Good luck, Chrysler?

    Not from my perspective.

    More like “DROP DEAD” money sucking, anti-American zombie owned by the UAW and fasist Washington politico-mafiosa!

    Ditto GM.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    Wow Mr. Carpenter… I’m gonna base this next comment out of complete ignorance, such as you have yours, and say this:

    I hope your industry, that helps you provide a living for you and your family, dies a horrible death too! I hope you also lose your job and get kicked out of your home too!

    I only say this becasue I am an expert at (insert the industry you work for here) based on crap I’ve read a few headlines about.

    With comments like, “More like “DROP DEAD” money sucking, anti-American zombie owned by the UAW and fasist Washington politico-mafiosa!”, I’m pretty sure you think the government blew up the twin towers and the pentagon too… Jeesh…

    The internet does breed some true nut jobs…

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    No, autojunkie, I’m not a nut job. I’m just fed up with being stolen from by the people who swear to protect me and people like myself, while having my money (and that of millions of other hard working folks) handed to inept, incompetent boobs who happen to be friends with those in charge of Washington DC.

    What rock have YOU been under?

    Had Chrysler and GM gone through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, “someone” would have purchased assets and continued some production; many dealers would have survived. New investment would have probably come into the country from overseas. Perhaps from Japan, a country which has been buying up our (largely worthless money) debt for decades, or perhaps the Chinese.

    Perhaps you’ve noticed the Chinese, that country which is perported to be Communist, but which appears to understand the reality of capitalism, success and increasing the standard of living for their people in a manner which would have made America proud – had we ever been able to do so well, so quickly?

    Some of the money held by the Chinese and Japanese would have been returned to this country, buying up the assets of GM and Chrysler, to make them successful again. I reckon than an IPO would have come about sooner than it will with GM (I suspect Chrysler will die after wasting billions of our tax monies).

    So what if “Americans” wouldn’t have owned GM and Chrysler any more? Chrysler had been owned by the Germans, and nobody squalked.

    Besides, I’ve seen the results of trying to prop up the unproppable, and the money p*ssed away by governments both left and right, when the Brits nationalized British Leyland in the early 1970′s. That didn’t end well.

    It’s not the end of the world for a nation to not have as many home-grown, home-owned auto companies. Britain didn’t collapse in onto itself and blow away in the breeze when the last “British” owned remnants of British Leyland folded up in 2006.

    So before you consider me / call me ignorant and worse, perhaps you should consider asking more politely for an explanation of where I’m coming from next time?

    BTW the definition of fascist is one put forward by Mussolini, who might have known something about it. It’s the merging of corporate and political interests (the unspoken part which ended up to be true being “at the expense of the welfare of the general population”). Tell me what part of that definition doesn’t fit the United States at this time, please?

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Looks like 70% of the American public (not counting the Political Class) believe that corporate and political interests are aligned to the exclusion of the interests of the public. (That’s Mussolini’s definition of FASCISM – aka National Socialism).

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/february_2010/only_21_say_u_s_government_has_consent_of_the_governed

  • avatar

    I still think the Sebring has a better quality interior than the Malibu. I should know I own both cars!


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