Chrysler Sebring Convertible – 2008 Preview: Chrysler calls the Sebring America's favorite convertible based on its annual sales numbers, but that data includes significant rotation into America's favorite rental fleets at America's favorite vacation destinations. Completely redesigned for 2008, this new drop-top arrives just in time for the summer of 2007 in base, Touring, and Limited trim levels.
Since the early 1980s when Chrysler resurrected the American convertible, it has sold more ragtops than Ford and General Motors, and the Sebring is its bread and butter model. For 2008, the car is completely redesigned and is now offered with an available power retractable hardtop. Other key innovations include remote top operation using the key fob, heated and cooled cupholders, stain-resistant fabric for the seats, and a 20-gigabyte onboard infotainment system that stores music and photos, can play movies, and allows occupants to record up to three minutes of voice memos.
Three engines are offered in the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. Standard is a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine hooked to a four-speed automatic and rated to get 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The upgrade is a 189-hp 2.7-liter V6 with flex-fuel E85 capability and fuel economy ratings of 20 in the city and 28 on the highway. The top engine choice is a 235-horse 3.5-liter V6 good for 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The strongest V6 gets a six-speed automatic with manual shift feature. Remote starting is optional. Every Sebring Convertible gets standard ABS, while stability control is optional.
Front and rear, the new Chrysler Sebring Convertible shares its look with the redesigned Sebring Sedan, a look inspired by the Crossfire sports car. To ensure trunk space even with the top lowered, and to accommodate the optional power retractable hardtop, the convertible's body is stretched three inches over the sedan, resulting in an unusually long rear overhang. The standard top is vinyl and a traditional cloth roof is available; all three tops feature automatic latching and a power-operated hard tonneau cover. This three-top strategy keeps the car affordable, and allows Chrysler to continue volume sales to rental agencies in California, Florida, and Hawaii.
With room for four adults inside and four golf bags in the trunk, Chrysler's Sebring Convertible is one of the most comfortable open-air automobiles on the market. Interior décor is dependent on the selected trim level, but every Sebring comes with an easy-entry front passenger's seat with memory return, integrated front seatbelts, multi-stage front airbags, and side-impact airbags. A wind blocker, heated and cooled front cupholders, and stain-resistant fabric are also featured. Our favorite feature, by far, is the MyGIG navigation and entertainment system.
"America's favorite convertible is now better than ever," said George Murphy, Senior Vice President – Global Marketing, Chrysler Group. "The all-new Chrysler Sebring Convertible offers the unprecedented combination of unmistakable road presence, athletic handling, innovative technologies, as well as plenty of room for people and gear. In fact, the all-new Sebring Convertible is the only convertible in the segment that can pass the two-golf-bag test. The sky's the limit on what this vehicle can accomplish in the marketplace."
Chrysler's new Sebring Convertible is a winner in top Limited trim with all the goodies, and it's too bad that thousands of people will judge the car based on test drives in poorly-maintained rental units that don't have the retractable hardtop, the V6 engine, the MyGIG infotainment system, or the other features that make the Sebring a compelling choice. We strongly recommend that Chrysler give up the lucrative fleet sales and concentrate instead on boosting the Sebring's cool quotient in the consumer marketplace.