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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Chrysler Sebring Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Chrysler Sebring Overview

The Last Great Personal Luxury Coupe for the Masses

There was once a time when big, two-door coupes ruled the American road; names like Cordoba, Magnum, Cutlass, Cougar and LTD II were all the rage in the 1970s and it seemed manufacturers couldn't build them fast enough. Then came the import invasion of the 1980s that—coupled with the public's rapidly changing taste—ended the reign of the personal luxury coupe. The models that did survive were forced to move decidedly up market, far out of reach of the average working person.

But some in Detroit had not forgotten the big coupe concept, or the profits these cars once generated. Maybe these same people thought that Chrysler was missing something in its line up or maybe someone just thought the Cordoba needed a proper heir. What ever the reason, the Chrysler Sebring carries on the tradition of the great personal luxury coupe providing room for 5, great looks, great power, great performance all at a great price.

The Sebring shares its engine, transmission and suspension parts with the Mitsubishi Eclipse; this fact alone makes the car worth at least one hour of your test-driving time. With the right parts in place, Chrysler then adds a brand of magic that no one else in the industry seems to be able to copy. They stretch the Eclipse platform a few inches and wrap in what may be the sleekest, sexiest metal coat ever to grace a $25K coupe. For 2003, the Sebring gets a new front grille that hints strongly at the future direction Chrysler products will be heading. The once oval grille is now more rectangular in shape and the headlights outline closely resembles those of the upcoming Pacifica. There are new taillights around back and new, sculpting on the hood and rear deck. Both LX and LXi models get new larger fog lamps integrated into the front bumper that, when combined with the oversized headlights, project a near-blinding beam of light.

The two trim levels remain the same as last years model; LX and LXi. Both trims can be ordered with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic; the LXi's automatic is bolstered by the slick shifting action of the Autostick manual shifting system that allows you to shift gears without the use of a clutch. The base LX is powered by a spunky 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that churns out a healthy 147 horsepower. When teamed with the manual transmission, the Sebring moves with surprising ease, though the 2.4 is a bit rowdy when pushed up over 3500 rpm. Optional on the LX and standard on the LXi is Mitsubishi's wonderful 3.0-liter V6 engine. Well known for its strong 200-horsepower output and robust torque curve, the V6 transforms the Sebring into a world class touring coupe; it pulls strongly off the line, sails smoothly at all speeds and has all the punch you'll need when the time comes to pass or merge. The engine even sounds great, though because of the Sebring's heavy insulation, you'll have to roll down the windows to really appreciate it.

On the road, you'll find the Sebring handles like a small sports car. It corners flat, has excellent steering and braking response and exhibits enviable traction when pushed hard. On the V6 models, torque steer (a front-wheel-drive cars tendency to pull to the left or right when accelerating) is evident, but more so on the 5-speed manual than on the automatic.

The Sebring's strong points continue to accumulate once you climb inside. It's handsome cockpit is built around the driver, placing controls within easy reach and featuring a cool digital display mounted high atop the dash that shows operations for the audio and CD changer. The Sebring is outfitted with a great set of bucket seats that afford support in all the right places and remain civilized even on long journeys. You'll love the way the shift lever and center console sweep down underneath the dash, allowing the heating and ventilation controls to remain free from obstruction by the shift lever. Perhaps the best thing about the Sebring's interior is that you can share the experience with four of your closest friends, because the Sebring has an honest to goodness back seat that can actually fit two adults.

Whether you're sitting behind the wheel or enjoying the view from the passenger seat, you'll find plenty of features to make the ride all the more enjoyable. All Sebrings come standard with air conditioning, rear defroster, tachometer, height adjustable driver's seat, power windows, keyless entry, power door locks, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with CD and a tilt-steering wheel. The LXi goes even further with a power sunroof, leather-wrapped shift knob, four-disc in-dash CD changer, steering-wheel mounted controls and 17-inch alloy wheels.

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