Sebring Ragtop Gets Great Overall Marks

By Wechter, Arnold | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 12, 1999 | Go to article overview

Sebring Ragtop Gets Great Overall Marks


Wechter, Arnold, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Styling is what Chrysler, make that DaimlerChrysler, does best. And nowhere is that more apparent than in its Chrysler Sebring Convertible.

Even after several years on the road, the Sebring Convertible is a beauty to behold - and is the main reason why it is the top-selling ragtop in America.

The Sebring is coveted by younger buyers, particularly women. The Sebring's styling is both classic and sexy.

Making the Sebring test car even sexier was the optional inferno red pearl paint job. It is one of the most interesting colors I have seen recently and is worth the extra $200.

While younger buyers may covet the Sebring, DaimlerChrysler reports that the car is aimed at buyers in the 35-54 age bracket and studies show the current buyer profile to be between 46 and 52. Surprisingly, female buyers make up only 42 percent of Sebring owners.

The car is also in favor with rental car companies and reportedly is quite successful during the summer months.

I found the convertible to be underpowered in both the four-cylinder and six-cylinder versions. "Not everybody demands huge amounts of power," I was told by one young lady. "I believe the V-6 version is adequate for everyday driving."

She also brushed aside my remarks about the ride and handling. "Of course it doesn't offer the handling of a Porsche. "It wasn't made to perform like a high-priced sports car." She then threw in a last zinger. "You are becoming like those overly opinionated writers for the automotive magazines who believe everybody should drive a Ferrari."

The test car was the JXi version with a base price of $26,285 - another reason for its popularity with buyers of all age groups.

The Sebring is also offered in the base JX and top-of-the-line Limited version.

The Limited comes with Chrysler's AutoStick transmission that allows it to be shifted like a manual unit. Here again there is a split. I am not a fan of semimanual transmissions. The lack of a foot-operated clutch takes the fun and skill out of it.

One thing I didn't miss in the Sebring were the rattles that accompany too many convertible models. The test car was as solid as rock and every bit as quiet. Even the wind noise was not annoying.

The JXi is equipped with the 2.5-liter single-overhead-cam V-6 with 24 valves. It is a reliable if somewhat underpowered engine - at least for a car weighing 3,406 pounds. It produces 168 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 170 foot-pounds of torque.

I found it to be an economical engine with an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. The test car, equipped with the standard four-speed automatic averaged 23. …

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