Review: 2007 Chrysler Sebring

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
review 2007 chrysler sebring

TTAC recently placed Chrysler on suicide watch for the easily correctable fact that vast empty spaces and dealers’ lots are stuffed with Chrysler/Dodge cars, trucks, minivans and SUV’s that no one wants to buy. The new Sebring is a far deadlier proposition: a car headed straight for rental car Hell. For a few bills less than our semi-loaded (half cocked?) Sebring tester, you can buy a base Chrysler 300, which, according to Mr. Mehta, has “reinvigorated American car design.” The new Sebring is less invigorating than Vicodin. In fact, I reckon the model only exists because car rental customers are still willin’ to take what they get.

Viewed head on, the Sebring’s got a lot of Aspen and a bit of Crossfire and none of the underworld zazz that made the gangsta 300 such a hit. The Sebring’s nose isn’t particularly hideous, but the side view sure is. In profile, the Sebring is flat-out Frankensteinian. I can’t believe this abomination got out of Ralph Gilles’s lab alive. (Where’s a pitchfork when you need one?) From the doors back, the Sebring appears to be suffering from dwarfism. The strakes, while not plastic, are as ungainly as anything crapifying a Pontiac. And the Sebring’s top line was created via machete; it’s an ugly, deforming slash.

The Sebring is based upon the fetching Airflite concept car, a machine that betrayed its right-wheel driveness via a long hood and fenders. Just as DCX trashed the drop-dead gorgeous Crossfire concept car by mandating it be built on a truncated cast-off SLK chassis, the graceful proportions of the Airflite have been murdered by its Mitsubishi underpinnings. Here’s the knife in the back: the Mercedes C-Class is due for a refresh. If Dr. Z had based the Sebring on the old C, it would not have become a nightmarish eyesore. But he didn’t so it is.

A friend of mine goes numb with boredom whenever I discuss cars. She simply doesn’t care (and therefore drives a Saturn). After four seconds seated in the Sebring’s passenger seat she pronounced: “This feels like a rental car.” I’ll skip the obvious (don’t touch anything save the heated/cooled cupholder) and get to the glaringly obvious. The steering wheel features wings made out of the same plastic as your kid’s toy sword, angled so that reflected sunlight blinds any driver condemned to seat time in this clueless car. The ugly, even harder plastic sheet glued to the back of the seats makes sitting in the puny rear that much more miserable. This from an automaker owned by Mercedes? For shame.

The top-shelf $25k Sebring Limited is fitted with a SOHC 24V V6 producing 235hp and 232 ft.-lbs. of twist. That’s enough grunt to motivate the Sebring from zero to 60mph in… wait for it… 7.7 seconds. While not slow per se, the stat’s not competitive. A similarly priced 260hp Nissan Altima does the deed in 6.6 seconds. The 244hp Honda Accord takes 7 seconds flat. As for the Sebring’s engine note noise, well, if Angus and Malcolm Young and Bon Scott hadn’t written a song called “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” they would’ve jumped out of this car suitably inspired.

Aside from the Sebring’s grabby stoppers, middling acceleration is the car’s dynamic strong point. The handling puts the abyss in abysmal. There’s so much torque steer that it’s a constant battle just to keep the car pointed in a straight line. Even a minor stab at the go-pedal triggers the tiller’s disapproval. Turns are just plain awful. Moving left and right is a multi-step affair. First, turn the wheel. Second, wait for the vehicle to fully lurch over onto one of the front springs. Finally, sit in terror as the weight is unloaded and the car leans all the way back in the other direction, maybe (or maybe not) aiming where you pointed it.

Improbably enough, the ride is even worse. With the Sebring’s short wheelbase and lousy suspension, bumps aren’t just felt, but profoundly understood. A choppy stretch of pavement can induce sensory hallucination; I swear a tiny man with a jackhammer was attacking my kidneys. And the pizza box thick (and flat) seats lend no support whatsoever. I will testify under oath that the engineers responsible have never driven a car in their lives.

I don’t get it. DCX must be trying to kill Chrysler. They’ve faced-up to the fact that the monster profits once found in lardo SUVs have dried up and decided to move on. Sunny Von Bulow knows what happens next.

Do I sound insane? Paranoid? Delusional? I cannot think of another remotely credible reason why any carmaker, knowing full well that the Camry and Accord are out there, would bring such a tired dog to market. Seriously, how profitable can rental cars be?

[Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and a tank of gas.]

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  • Rocket Rocket on Mar 25, 2008

    The Sebring it's a decent car, I like it. The company I work with owns a Sebring that I use to run errands around town, its a great city car, I love the 17 inch wheels, the stereo sounds very good, and the powerplant (2.4) feels like more than enough, I expected a lot less power but whenever I hit the gas it delivers plenty of power, also the exterior looks pretty modern, I really liked the unique style they used for the trunk, I dunno why many of you didn't like it, but oh well, somehow I dig it, inside the trunk is very roomy don't let your eyes fool ya, when you start fiilling with stuff it holds everything I usually carry around, plenty of leg room also, I feel very relaxed when I drive it, and best of all, I never had any mechanical problems with it (so far) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays like that but anyway overall I like to drive our silver Sebring anyday over the other two cars the company owns. Just my two cents.

  • on Dec 11, 2008

    [...] Aveo* ** Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5 Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango* ** Chrysler Sebring / Dodge Avenger* Dodge Caliber Dodge Nitro* Hummer H2* ** Hummer H3 / H3T* Jeep Commander Jeep [...]

  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?
  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.
  • Saeed Hello, I need a series of other accessories from Lincoln. Do you have front window, front and rear lights, etc. from the 1972 and 1976 models