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2007 Chrysler Sebring Sedan Road Test
New Sebring a slick sedan
By Bill Roebuck
Chrysler's redesign of its Sebring sedan brings the 2007 model right up to date in the family sedan market. With new models already in showrooms from major competitors in this segment, the old Sebring had become stale-looking. The new look boasts a long, Crossfire-style hood and a short trunk deck, both of which I find appealing. I also like the interior design, which I find to be both interesting in appearance and practical to use.
The 2007 Chrysler Sebring mid-size sedan seemed to be as well screwed-together as any comparable Japanese model I've driven. There was nary a squeak or rattle on my test drive, no matter whether the road surfaces were rough or twisty. The production line has really nailed the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) problem that plagues a lot of other North American-built vehicles.
I found it to be very quiet as well -- very little wind or road noise penetrated the cabin. There was a roar from the motor under hard acceleration from a model with the four-cylinder engine (there was four passengers aboard at the time) but other than that, it was impressively calm inside. I noted that the doors are triple-sealed to reduce wind noise.
I expect one reason they've built it so well is that the Sebring will compete in global markets. The same new design will be sold in all Chrysler markets around the world.
At the recent media launch, I was able to have test drives of both the four-cylinder and V6 models in three trim levels (Sebring, Sebring Touring and Sebring Limited), and although each one impressed me, I was especially enamoured with the equipment level and performance of the base model.
It's interesting that, despite the general reputation that models from North America's Big Three have, the Chrysler brand finished in the Top 10 in the 2006 J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Survey and tied with Acura.
The all-new Sebring also impressed me with its high level of safety equipment, very good performance and handling, and good fuel economy. It's also well-priced, with the base model starting at $22,995 plus a $1,200 destination charge.
This sedan needs all these attributes, that's for sure, as it will be competing in one of Canada's toughest car segments; competitors include market leaders such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and the up-and-coming Hyundai Sonata.
If you're a driver who likes innovations, the Sebring will appeal on this front. It can be had with a novel heated/cooled front cupholder. Yes, you can keep your Timmies coffee hot (the heater goes up to 60 degrees C or 140 degrees F), or your pop cold (as low as 2 degrees C or 35 degrees F).
Another available technology is LED (light-emitting diode) interior lighting that provides a white light that can be narrowly focused on what you're reading. As well, you can lower the front windows on hot days by using the key fob, even before you get in the car.
Of special interest to families is the availability of YES Essentials stain- and odour-resistant, anti-static, anti-microbial fabric as an upgrade from the standard cloth. Most spills -- even mustard and ketchup -- can be simply wiped off of it without leaving a mark. I'd wished I'd had a wet dog handy to test this out, but that will have to wait for a future, more extensive evaluation. Leather seating also is an option, and you probably wouldn't want a wet dog on that.
Best of all, you can order a Sebring with heated cloth front seats -- no need to upgrade to leather to get the heat.
I found the Sebring's seats quite comfortable. Drivers sit 65 mm inches higher than they did in the previous Sebring, but no problem, as there is the same amount more headroom. On the Touring and Limited models, the front passenger seat folds flat to provide a table-like surface next to the driver.
The base audio system is an AM/FM/CD unit with four speakers. A premium six-speaker Boston Acoustics Sound System is also offered for better sound quality, as is an optional stereo with an in-dash six-disc CD/DVD changer that plays MP3 and WMA files. An auxiliary audio input jack for portable audio systems is standard.
Optional on the Sebring is MyGIG, a Harmon/Kardon audio, navigation, entertainment and communication system that is controlled through voice commands and a touch screen, and includes a 20-gigabyte hard drive to store as much as 100 hours of music. It also includes a three-minute voice-memo recording feature and supports Sirius Satellite Radio.
A rear-seat DVD entertainment system also will be available in Sebrings later in the model year. The rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat to extend the cargo capacity. Trunk capacity is 385 litres.
The base Sebring comes with a new, fuel-efficient World Engine, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder producing an impressive 173 hp. It's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Touring gets a 2.7-litre flex-fuel V6 with 189 hp and a four-speed automatic. The Limited is equipped with a 3.5-litre, 235-hp V6 coupled to a new six-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick.
Safety features include standard ABS braking. ESP--an electronic stability program with hydraulic brake assist and traction control, is an option on the Touring and standard on the Limited. Advanced front airbags plus side-curtain and side seat-mounted thorax air bags are standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
Although it's a similar size, overall, the new Sebring is an order of magnitude better than its predecessor and would be a contender for anyone in the mid-size sedan market.
Bill Roebuck is the Editor of cartest.ca