Marchionne Confirms The Death Of The Sebring

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
marchionne confirms the death of the sebring

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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  • Oberkanone Too slow! Need a Trackhawk.
  • SCE to AUX I'll guess 160 miles or less while towing at full capacity, especially in cold weather.Deduct 20% for minimum battery charge, and you're down to 128 miles in January if you have to tow something big that day. Subtract another 20% if you do this every day (don't want to fill to 100% every day).Then subtract more for any speeding, and a little for battery aging over time, and on the worst days you're under 100 miles of range.Good for local work on a good day, but not all 'truck stuff' on bad days. Buyers need to do their homework before getting an electric truck.
  • Wjtinfwb Memory lane... In '76, I got my full Florida D/L and started hogging my parents cars. That only lasted a year when it was decided I needed to take an additional class in school that started at 7am, before the bus ran and my friends went to school. Mom was not excited about driving me every day so I proposed a solution; I was a big dirt biker and floated out buying a street bike to ride to school, namely a new Honda XL350. Mom & Dad objected vehemently, they didn't want me dead on the road to school. And they know I'd be on that bike 24/7 and they'd never know where I was. Dad offered a car, stating if I'd put in the money I'd saved for the Honda, he'd match it and if needed throw in a bit more. Perfect! I started looking for a car, first candidate was a used Pontiac Formula 455. It was a '74, Automatic, an awful pea green but clean and on the front line at JM Pontiac. No way was Dad's instant answer. Too thirsty, too powerful, too expensive to insure. A Celica GT Liftback? Better but too expensive. Corolla SR-5? Warmer, but dad was uncertain of the safety of a Japanese car. Fiat 128? Why not just throw the money out the window. Dad's friend ran a leasing company and had a hook at the VW dealer, Rabbit? A Scirocco would be better, but lets look. Dealer offered a new, '77 Rabbit 2dr in Custom trim, 4-speed, factory A/C, AM/FM in Panama Brown (burnt Orange) with Brown "leatherette" for $3200 plus tax. One drive and I was in. Not fast, but peppy, '77 combined the '76 1.6L engine with Bosch Fuel Injection. Faster than the Corolla for sure and undoubtedly more reliable than the Fiat, right? Not so fast, my friend. The Rabbit was a nightmare, and VW dealers were stymied by the Fuel Injection, the A/C that while factory was clearly an afterthought and the leak from somewhere that filled the left rear footwell after ever rainstorm. A daily occurrence in S. Florida. It left me on the side of the road one evening due to a broken timing belt and ultimately succumbed to the bad valve guides that led to burning a quart of GTX every 200 miles. Sold at a fire sale price and replaced with a used Cutlass. A super fun car that was sold approximately 2/3 of the way through development. Two years later production moved to Westmoreland PA and those Rabbits were even more horrendous than my German built example. Great memory of a not very great car.
  • Fie on Fiasler "...he’s worried that the situation will interfere with his ability to pursue his goal of working in government."Well, thank Christ for Musk, then. Last thing we need is a punk kid that aspires to a government job. Sometimes action is needed to spare these idiots from themselves (and, more importantly, us.)
  • SCE to AUX This story could have been a lot shorter.I'll side with Cruise this time. If indeed the pedestrian was thrown into the AV's path while ricocheting from another impact, that's an unavoidable accident. No human could do any better in that case.Seems more like the Cruise AV was in the wrong place at the wrong time.