KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Accounting for more than one in every four passenger cars sold, the midsize sedan market remains the most popular in the country. Currently, the segment consists of the class leaders, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and a host of "category alternatives," some of which are more compelling than others. Lately, though, it seems almost every new or redesigned entry shows up to the party with a combination of attributes attractive enough to merit consideration. Fresh from its rebirth in 2007, the 2008 Chrysler Sebring has upped its marketplace appeal with standout styling and some of the most compelling features available in the category.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you like the balanced nature of a midsize sedan but want or need some of the in-cabin goodies not traditionally available in the segment, the Sebring might be just the car for which you've been waiting. Unique styling also sets the Sebring apart from the crowd.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The Sebring sedan's overall sense of refinement doesn't match the Honda Accord's or Toyota Camry's, or even that of some newcomers like the Saturn Aura.
What's Significant About This Car?
An all-wheel-drive Limited trim is added to the line, while new standard features include an AM/FM stereo with a six-disc CD player and SIRIUS Satellite Radio.
Like so many of the new models we've driven within the past year or two, the 2008 Sebring practically antiquates the previous-generation Sebring in every way. Still, on the list of things we like about the Sebring, its ride and handling characteristics aren't at the top. Compared to a direct competitor like the Saturn Aura, for instance, the Sebring is neither as comfortable on the highway nor as eager on a winding road. Furthermore, the cabin isn't as quiet and the powertrains aren't as smooth. On all those fronts the Sebring is far beyond acceptable, however, especially for anyone attracted more by its styling and amenities. In fact, loaded up with MyGIG, a rear-seat DVD system and the heated and cooled cupholder, some could argue that the Sebring offers the most stuff for the money in the entire segment.
This optional hard drive-based system includes navigation with real-time traffic information, MP3/WMA music and JPEG image uploading, a high-speed USB 2.0 port, auxiliary audio input, voice recognition, voice message recording and playback, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and more.
The Sebring's rear-seat DVD video systemthe first offered in a midsize sedanincludes dual headphones plus audio and gaming capability.
With a passenger cabin defined by clean, contemporary styling and a generous helping of metallic-looking trim (plus a few instances of average-grade plastics), the Sebring might not be as warm or welcoming as some of its competitors, but it's comfortable and attractive nonetheless. Complementing a host of available in-cabin technologies is a fold-flat passenger's seat that can make laptop work easier (or help accommodate longer cargo). In between the base cloth and available leather seating, the Sebring offers an exceptionally stain-resistant seat fabric called YES Essentials. Limited models get a touch of tortoise shell-like trim.
Before its introduction, many figured the new Sebring would show up looking something like a scaled-down version of the larger Chrysler 300 sedan that has been such a big hit for the automaker. According to company officials, however, that car's bold look just didn't downsize well. Instead, the Sebring adopts the general styling direction that now defines more than half the vehicles in the Chrysler lineup, a look that includes the grille, headlamps and distinctive hood strakes that made their debut on the Chrysler Crossfire two-seater. Limited trim-level models are differentiated by chrome door handles, fog lamps and dual chrome exhaust outlets.
Notable Standard Equipment
A base Sebring LX includes a six-CD/DVD/MP3/SIRIUS Satellite Radio sound system with auxiliary input jack, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, four-way adjustable steering wheel, delayed-off headlamps, cloth seats and 16-inch covered steel wheels. Standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
The highlight of the Sebring's optional equipment list is the comprehensive MyGIG navigation, entertainment and communication system. Other standouts include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, stand-alone Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, heated and cooled cup holder, heated front seats, leather seats and a power glass sun roof.
Under the Hood
The Sebring's base four-cylinder engine delivers highway mileage of up to 30 miles per gallon, the range-topping 3.5-liter V6 offers 235 horsepower and the 2.7-liter V6 balances the economy and power of the two while offering the Flex-Fuel capability of running on gasoline, E85 ethanol or any mixture of both. The 3.5-liter benefits from a six-speed automatic transmission with Auto Stick manual-shift capability, while the other engines are matched to a traditional four-speed automatic.
2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
166 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30
186 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
192 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (Gas), 14/20 (E85)
235 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
232 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/26 (FWD), 15/24 (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2008 Chrysler Sebring ranges from $19,000 for the base LX to just over $24,000 for the Limited with front-wheel drive; a fully loaded Limited with all-wheel drive hits the low $30,000 mark. Our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world selling prices not more than a few hundred dollars shy of those MSRPs. Compared with category leaders Accord and Camry, the Sebring's higher feature content at any given price is countered in part by lower projected resale values.