Chrysler Sebring 2.0 CRD Limited

July 2007

picture of car from the front

The Sebring takes styling cues from the 300C and Crossfire

Ratings

Overall Rating 6Overall rating

Value for money Rating 8Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Undercuts opposition on price
  • Well equipped as standard
  • Distinctively styled
  • Spacious interior and boot

Gripes

  • Quality of interior materials is lacking
  • Petrol engine lacks power
  • Ride gets sloppy when pushed hard
  • Diesel engine is noisy even when warm

Feeling vulnerable due to its lack of a D-Segment player, Chrysler has crafted the Sebring saloon to fill the void. Entering into a fiercely fought sector the company hopes not to take it by storm but rather to offer a distinctive and well equipped alternative at a low enough price to tempt buyers from Ford and Toyota forecourts.

We all know how hard it can be to start playing catch-up once you've allowed yourself to get out of the loop, or to jump into a new project at the deep end and try to get up to speed. That's the situation Chrysler found itself in: trying to make its name in the UK but without a contender in the all encompassing D-segment inhabited by rep favourites such as the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, and Toyota Avensis - not to mention the premium BMW, Audi and Mercedes contingent.

In an attempt to gain a toehold in the one million cars per year D-segment Chrysler produced the Sebring. But with only a small presence in the UK the Sebring is really more of a branding exercise than an all out attempt at big sales in a sector dominated by even bigger names. If Chrysler can encourage a few browsers onto their forecourts and eventually into a Sebring they'll be happy.

That's not to say Chrysler has been slack with its development or marketing. The manufacturer has carefully narrowed down its target audience to males of over 55 years. It's reasoning? Presumably the company feels that the more mature market will be comfortable enough in its own shoes to opt for something different, and certainly savvy enough to know a bargain when it sees one.

There's no denying the Sebring comes with an impressive amount of kit for an eye-catchingly low asking price. And it's not all toys (like the heated and cooled cup holder) either. ESP and traction control are standard equipment, as are cruise control and air-con. Like the Chrysler 300C and Crossfire, the Sebring offers a lot of car for the money.

Our verdict on the Chrysler Sebring 2.0 CRD Limited

It won't appeal to everyone but the Sebring may well tempt drivers bored of the usual suspects. The car has been designed for a mature market and it shows in the exterior and interior styling and in the way it responds well to a more leisurely driving style. Established contenders may have the edge on handling and quality but few offer as much kit for as little money.

Costs
Costs rating 7

The 2.0 CRD will return 45.6 mpg on the combined run, which will be incentive enough for most to purchase it over the less frugal petrol that offers 36.2mpg. C02 emissions of 170g/km and 185g/m respectively put both cars into affordable tax bands. The 2.4-litre auto will do 31.1 mpg and produce 211g/km of C02. The 2.0 petrol is the cheapest to insure, while the diesel and automatic variants are both marginally more expensive.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

There's no shortage of room in the Sebring for front or rear passengers. Both head and legroom is adequate and the car will seat five adults comfortably. The boot is equally spacious and the rear seats fold 60/40 to offer even more room in several combinations.

picture of car from the rear

The Sebring has a pleasingly curvaceous rear

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

It's hard to fault the Sebring's ergonomics, with the switchgear and dials generally well laid out, accessible and intuitive. The centre console is a particularly simplistic and sensible design and the dials are well positioned and visible. The column stalks are positioned at a somewhat extreme angle however, and are obscured by the wheel making them hard to negotiate until familiar with the layout.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The only thing to detract form the Sebring's comfort is mildly excessive wind and engine noise, particularly from the diesel unit. Leather comes as standards as does air-conditioning, cruise control, steering wheel-audio controls, electric driver's and heated front seats and even a heated and chilled cup holder. The gadgets, combined with the smooth ride, make it a remarkably relaxing car to drive and be driven in.

Car security
Security Rating 7

A Thatcham category one alarm should prevent unwelcome intruders from helping themselves to the Sebring, or anything in it. Rolling door locks also come as standard, which secure the car once it's moving.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

The Sebring is as safe as they come with ESP and traction control as standard. Front seat side airbags, front airbags and side curtain airbags are also standard equipment, as are more exotic touches such as automatic headlamps and tyre pressure monitoring. Naturally, there's ABS on all four disc brakes.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

The 2.0 CRD diesel is by far the better engine, and Chrysler expects it to account for 70 per cent of sales. The 2.0 petrol has little to offer when the road goes up despite having better acceleration on paper. The Sebring is a very capable cruiser and drives smoothly. However, when pushed hard it shows it limitations and can become rather roly-poly on its soft suspension. It handles well in the fast lane, but is not as sure footed as some of its rivals.

picture of car interior

Leather comes as standard on all versions

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The Sebring scores highly for family appeal with plenty of room, an impressive audio-visual set-up and a large assortment of toys to make life easy for parents and comfortable for kids. Younger passengers are unlikely to be bowled over by the reserved styling but they're well looked after with child seat anchors and child protection locks as standard equipment.

First car appeal
First car Rating 4

Unless you're purchasing your first car as a 55 year-old, the Sebring probably isn't, and definitely wasn't designed to be, your cup of tea. The optional MyGig entertainment system may appeal to a younger, gadget savvy audience and the 18-inch wheels add a spot of bling, but that's as far as the Sebring's youth appeal stretches.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 5

The Sebring is being aimed specifically at a senior market and it's styling should certainly appeal to a more mature audience. It has more elegance than flair, and the same can be said of an interior that is understated and stylish. Unfortunately it's the interior that lets the Sebring down, with less than glamorous materials and build quality.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

The Sebring shouldn't make for any access problems, with four large doors making entry and exit easy and the huge-18 inch wheels offering a good ride-height. The boot is also a good size and the lid provides reasonable access for a saloon.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The Sebring comes with a finely crafted Boston six-speaker sound system and DVD and MP3 CD unit as standard. The MyGig option adds a whole new dimension however, offering the ability to upload photos and music through a USB port and watch video on a 6.5-inch screen. The system also includes Chrysler's highly useable sat-nav system with mapping stored on the unit's 20GB hard-drive, leaving plenty of room spare for music, photos or video.

picture of car in detail

A chilled and heated cup holder is one of the Sebring's party pieces

Colours and trim

Exterior paint colours are as sumptuous as the image Chrysler is trying to project with the Sebring, and include Inferno Red Tinted Pearl Coat and Linen Gold Pearl Coat, although it looks particularly distinguished in black. Interior trim includes leather as standard with tortoise shell accents on the fascia and steering wheel. The analogue clock is a nice touch, too.

Parking

A high boot and thick pillars at the rear mean the driver really relies on the mirrors when reversing the Sebring. Parking sensors are about the only item not included in the standard kit. They would have been handy though, thanks to the cars jutting rear bumper.

Spare wheel

Compact spare fitted as standard on all models.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (154bhp); 2.4-litre (167bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (138bhp). Transmission options: 2.0-petrol with five-speed manual gearbox, 2.0-litre diesel with six-speed manual gearbox, 2.4-litre petrol with auto gearbox featuring manual over-ride. Available only in Limited trim.

 

Alternative cars

Ford Mondeo D-Segment domination continues un-abated

Toyota Avensis Comfortable and supremely reliable rep motor

Honda Accord Good looks, excellent build and well equipped

Peugeot 407 Graceful saloon makes for a stylish alternative



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July 2007