The mid-size sedan class is so competitive these days that it takes something really special to stand out from the pack. Unfortunately the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is not that special and it struggles to be recognized amongst the tried-and-true performers like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Nevertheless, it is a solid and safe car that received a major upgrade in 2007 and continues to improve upon its formula with lots of new features and gadgets to keep it up-to-date.
The Sebring convertible is a slightly different story, with far less competition in the low-priced convertible class. With a V6 available that adds performance and the cool option of a power-retractable hard-top, it has more to offer than its mediocre sedan cousin
2009 Chrysler Sebring Performance
The hardest part of buying a Sebring is choosing which one, there are so many different trims to choose from. At the lower end is the LX sedan and convertible, with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 173hp and available in four-speed automatic transmission. The Touring sedan and convertible are the next level up with the 2.4-liter engine, but a V6 option is also available with a 2.7-liter engine and flex-fuel. Next is the Limited sedan, AWD sedan and convertible with the same 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine but there is a V6 option with 3.5-liter six-speed automatic.
The Sebring sedans drive pretty much how they look- with predictable and somewhat disappointing performance. The automatic transmission seems to change gear at all the wrong times, the acceleration on the 4-cylinder and 2.7-liter V6 is sluggish and unresponsive, and the braking leaves a lot to be desired. Best of the lot is the 3.5-liter V6 giving much better performance overall, but compared to the other high quality offerings in the mid-sized sedan class it still doesn't really cut it. The convertibles have the advantage that with the top down you may not hear the engine noise so much however their engine performance still isn't inspiring, and if not for their novelty value, would not have much to offer.
Fuel economy is reasonable on the 2.4-liters, getting 21/30mpg city/highway, but deteriorates on the V6s at 19/27mg for the 2.4-liter and 16/27mpg on the 3.5-liter. The convertibles lose an extra mile per gallon for their weight.
2009 Chrysler Sebring Interior
While the inside of the Sebrings isn't really much better, at least there are plenty of gadgets and gizmos to add on and play with. In the LX trims the seats are very basic and there is an abundance of hard plastic, but it is spacious in the front if not a little cramped in the back seat. Standard is air conditioning, cruise control, 16-inch wheels, a four-speaker audio system with 6-CD changer, audio jack and satellite radio. The convertible LX has a vinyl soft top that operates smoothly via a button and it also adds a 6-speaker stereo.
In the Touring trim you get 17-inch wheels and the 6-speaker stereo standard, plus slightly better cloth seats and a powered driver seat. Upgrading to the Limited Sebring has got to be worth it for the leather seats, Bluetooth phone, remote starting function from up to 200m away and a much cooler Boston sound system. Plus you can choose from other packages like the rear-seat DVD entertainment with gaming inputs, 18-inch wheels, heated seats, touchscreen music system, hard drive storage, sunroof and navigation system. A worthy investment is the upgrade to the hard top convertible that folds back with the touch of a button into the trunk. This does take up half of the available trunk space, but for the fun factor in an otherwise lack-lustre range of vehicles it has got to be good.
2009 Chrysler Sebring Safety
Impressively, the Sebring sedan scored top points in the NHTSA crash testing for driver and front passenger safety thanks to the full range of safety features available. Electronic Stability, ABS and Brake Assist are available as an optional package for the Touring and Limited trims and help regain control of the car in emergency situations by adjusting the engine power and brake force to prevent over and under-steering. Dual front airbags are available plus side-curtain airbags. The Electronic Vehicle Information Center is available in the Touring and Limited models to give an easy read-out of all of the key functions including tire pressure but otherwise the LX carries a low tire-pressure monitor. Child safety seat anchors are standard in all models.
- Electronic stability, ABS and Brake Assist
- Front, side and rear airbags
- LATCH child safety seatbelts
- Tire pressure monitor/ Electronic Vehicle Information Center
Overall the 2009 Chrysler Sebring is certainly not going to win any awards for superior design or performance, but it is a safe and steady kind of family car in the mid-sized sedan class that is bound to end up filling the lease car-lots for its mediocrity. The convertible Sebrings offer a little more in novelty value and offer a cheap alternative to the Pontiac G6 as long as you opt for the more powerful and sporty 3.5-liter V6 version.