Chrysler Sebring

Chrysler Sebring
Offered as a coupe, convertible, and sedan, the Chrysler Sebring has been in production since 1995. A popular choice in numerous TV shows, the Sebring has been found in blockbuster hits like The Dukes of Hazzard, Mystic River, and Intolerable Cruelty and on several TV shows, including The Sopranos, The X Files, and Ghost Whisperer. The Sebring got its name from Sebring, Florida, the site of the famous endurance car race dubbed the 12 Hours of Sebring. The name first went to Chrysler's Plymouth division trim line of the Satellite mid-size coupe of the 1970s. Containing over 82% of parts that are sourced in North America, the Chrysler Sebring is assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

The Sebring came in three generations; the first ranged from 1995 until 2000 and started only as a coupe, then beginning in 1996, as a convertible. The two body designs didn't share any sheet metal or even many components. The second generation ran from 2001 until 2006 and included three models that added a four-door sedan model. After 2005 though, the coupe was deleted from the lineup. The third generation debuted in 2007 originally as only a four-door model before the convertible was added in 2008. Now the vehicles shared the same platform and continued this way until 2010. European markets received some exported Chrysler Sebring models, and some overseas market vehicles were manufactured in Russia and China. The Sebring continued in production until 2011, when it was replaced by the Chrysler 200.

Offered by the Chrysler Corporation and eventually DaimlerChrysler, the Sebring convertible has the auspicious honor of being the bestselling convertible in the world from 2001 until 2005. The Sebring coupe, introduced in 1995, was considered the maker's luxury model. Unfortunately, it was taken off the market due to poor sales in 2005. The sedan debuted in 2001 and continued in production until 2010. The sedan is the model version that most distinguishes itself from previous editions with a more luxurious interior and four doors. The incredibly popular convertible began production in 1996 and continues to be produced today. Though Chrysler has always claimed that the three different types of Sebrings are somewhat unrelated, the fans disagree and associate the convertible, coupe, and sedan with each other from the beginning. In the Chrysler lineup the Sebring replaced the LeBaron.

The first generation was introduced in April 1995 and started with a coupe, and eventually added a convertible. The coupe had a ten-year production run beginning in 1995 and was based on the Mitsubishi Eclipse. It had engine variations that ranged from a 2.0L I4 to a 3.0L Mitsubishi V6. Incredibly roomy and lush, the coupe could seat up to five passengers. Its trunk space was impressive and similar to that of many mid-size cars. The Bringing to mind memories of the original Chrysler 300 letter series, the Sebring featured a crosshair grille.

The convertible was constructed off the Chrysler JA platform that was also used for the Cirrus sedan. Launched in 1996 alongside the Coupe, the convertible replaced the LeBaron convertible. Optional in Mexico was a very rare turbocharged 2.4 L DOHC I4 engine.

From 95 until 2000, the coupe was the replacement for the Chrysler LeBaron coupe. Though it was introduced mere months after the related Dodge Avenger and despite their similarities, the coupe featured suspension tuned slightly on the softer side in comparison to the Dodge's stiff suspension. It featured little body roll and handled adequately over long, curvy roads.

Sebring LXi models received rear sway bars, 17-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle performance tires, and a slightly different tuned fully independent suspension. Due to the 4-wheel double wishbone suspension and variable speed rack and pinion, the car proved itself a worthy competitor and a surprise for a car of its class.

In 1997 the Sebring received some minor updates that included the grille being replaced with a slightly larger black grid. Using Chrysler's 'wings' logo since the 1930s, this new trend continued on until the 2010 model year. Also new this year were new wheel styles and the addition of ribbed lower-body cladding. The coupes offered 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, fully independent suspensions, adaptive automatic transmission, and also a variety of power-operated features. In addition to these features, the Sebring also offered numerous options that were often available in its class or price range. These included 17-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear Eagle tires, variable speed rack and pinion steering, one-touch power windows and moonroof, electrochromic mirror with compass, 4-wheel double wishbone suspension, power accessory delay ignition, and Homelink universal transmitter. Exceptionally attuned to customer safety, the Coupe received the highest rating possible, a 5-star frontal safety rating. First-generation Coupes have continued to be sold past the 2000 model year to select export models.

The second generation of the Sebring debuted in 2001 and continued in production until 2006. The Sebring name was now found on three different cars; the coupe based on the Eclipse, and the sedan and convertible on the Chrysler JR platform, replacing the Chrysler Cirrus. In 2004 the cars received a new front fascia along with a Chrysler logo in the rear section. After 2005 the Sebring coupe was taken out of the lineup. In Mexico, the Sebring was sold as the Chrysler Cirrus. Various trim levels were available from 2001 until the 2006-generation sedans.

The Sebring Convertible was revamped in 2001, and though it still was vastly different from the coupe, it shared much of its sheet metal with the sedan. Most of the interior and the front façade were all that these vehicles had in common. Much of the outside and inside mechanisms traveled over from the first-generation model, though the underneath body shell differed greatly. For 2004 the Sebring received only slight changes and primarily concentrated in the nose area.

The Coupe was redesigned for 2001 and based closely on the third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse. Like before, the coupe didn't share anything except the name and a few outside styling cues with the sedan or the convertible. Three years later the Coupe underwent an update along with the convertible and the sedan before being discontinued after 2005 because of poor sales. The 2008 Sebring hardtop convertible replaced the Coupe.

2006 brought with it the third generation of the Chrysler Sebring. For the 2007 model year, the Sebring was replaced with a new model that was based on the JS platform. Convertibles were available for 2007, so the 2006 model was left to fill that gap. It continued on Chrysler's website and in showrooms until the 2008 model release.

The Sebring sedan was introduced in 2001 and is the biggest of all three models. It first featured a 2.4L I4 engine, with an available upgrade being a 2.7L V6. A popular choice for small families, though the sedan wasn't considered the trendiest of the Sebring siblings, it's seven trim levels made the model easily customizable. In 2007 the sedan was updated and given a facelift that made it much more elegant inside and out. It took many of its styling cues from the 03 Chrysler Airflite concept. Several more powerful engine levels were also introduced and included a 3.5L EGJ V6. To appeal to both younger buyers and families with young children, in 2008, the sedan received an optional MyGIG entertainment system. This system allows you to store 20 GB of music, photos, and DVDs.

Starting life as a mid-size two-door model with a soft top, the convertible featured four different engine levels since the beginning, with the most recent being the most powerful 3.5L EGJ V6. This engine is mated to Chrysler's first-ever six-speed automatic transmission, which utilizes Autostick technology. For 2008 only the 3.5 L V6 sedan was available with all-wheel drive as an extra cost option. Popular throughout the early 2000s, the convertible rose to an even higher status with the addition of the fully retractable hardtop, lux exterior, and Limited trim levels. In 2007 as a 2008 model, the convertible was available for the first time with an optional power hardtop in addition to the available vinyl and cloth tops.

The LX and Touring trims were dropped from the lineup for the 2009 model year, leaving only the Limited. Priced in the same bracket as the 2008 Touring model the Limited received the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine too. Also, this year the Sebring received rear badge placements updated slightly. The 2010 Sebring received a Top Safety Pick alongside the 2011 Chrysler 200.

Showcased at the 2007 Los Angeles International Auto Show as an early 2008 model, the Sebring was available as both a retractable hardtop and a soft top. The Convertible was revamped for 2008 and received design implements like the hood's strake lines on the Crossfire. Updates included a remodeled dash with new 2.4 I4 and 3.5 V6 engines, and a re-tuned 2.5 V6 from the prior generation falling between the two models. The Sebring convertible wasn't offered in all-wheel drive unlike the sedan. The new convertible top retracts into the trunk with a power tonneau cover and features a luggage protector for the top. The top can also be drawn in with the remote keyless entry so that the top can be stored without being in the car or starting the engine.

Numerous European versions were manufactured by Chrysler of the 2001-2006 Sebring sedan and convertible. The cars were updated in fitting with European standards, including the front and rear lights being updated, turn-signal indicators made orange, and the addition of side-turn repeaters on the front fenders. To fit the longer European-size license plates the rear bumper featured a larger recess, and two fog lamps were fitted with one on each side of the license plate. The LHD headlamps were made to include Euro-type H4 bulbs, together with three-way up and down beam-level adjustment through a dash-mounted switch on the left of the steering wheel. Engine range options were the 2.0 L DOHC 16V inline 4-cylinder and the 2.7 L DOHC 24V 6-cylinder unit for the European market. Depending on the country it was exported to, the 2.0 and 2.4L engines were available with the 5-speed manual or 4-speed 41TE auto transmission, while the 6-cylinder is automatic only.

The Sebring convertible and sedan weren't sold in the UK and Ireland because they were made in left-hand drive only. Though Chrysler UK did import fifty convertibles with the 2.7L engine from 2001 until 2001, sold through a few select dealers.

In Europe, the trim levels available were LE and LX. Touring and Limited versions began to replace the LE and LX designations after 2004. Unable to become a true pan-European vehicle, unlike the PT Cruiser and Voyager, the Sebring didn't have a diesel engine and right-hand drive availability. Before production ended in '06 the model was dropped from Chrysler's lineup in some countries, particularly France. France was monopolized by the three domestic car-markers; Citroen, Renault, and PSA-Peugeot and because of this, sales of the Sebring were very low.

Various Sebring convertibles have been bought in from the US as grey-import even though they weren't available in the UK and Ireland. More commonly from Germany, some Euro-spec models were privately imported. Since they have EU-type approval, these European versions are pretty easy to re-register in the UK. It is quite rare though to find a sedan in the UK, though several EU models have been imported, they are more likely to be North American 'grey-imports'. Right-hand drive Sebring sedans and convertibles are now sold from 2007-onwards through Chrysler's UK and Ireland dealer system.

Midway through 2008, the Volga Siber was constructed in Russia from the second-generation Chrysler Sebring and its Dodge Stratus cousin. In April of 2006, the license and tooling for these vehicles were sold to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, owner of the GAS Company, which builds the Volga car. This agreement cost around $151 million, and the plan was to build up to 65,000 cars of both models a year. Dubbing the vehicle the Volga Siber, GAS kept its Volga nameplate. Chrysler 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines were imported by GAS from Mexico to be used in these cars.

In 2007 the Sebring for the Chinese market entered into production at the Beijing-Benz DaimlerChrysler Automotive Co. (BBDC) in Beijing.


By Jessica Donaldson

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.