2010 Chrysler Sebring Limited Convertible Road Test Review

Russ Heaps - CAP staff
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Sebring is probably the Chrysler nameplate most familiar to the public. Extensively available in rental fleets, a Sebring of some stripe can be seen at nearly every intersection. This is both good and bad for Chrysler. On one hand, Chrysler sells a lot of Sebrings that it otherwise wouldn't sell; on the other hand, it's never good for a nameplate's retail business to be so widely perceived as rental fodder.

Prejudice, however, doesn't serve one well in social settings or when vehicle shopping. This is true with the Sebring Convertible. Is it the best drop top on the road? Nope. But with a starting sticker of $25,915 for the base LX version, it is reasonably priced and loaded with standard features such as a power convertible top, full power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning, and a six-speaker audio system. The 2010 Ford Mustang Convertible is the only other four-seat drop top that manages to sneak under the Sebring's entry-level price and that's only by $1,093.

Building on the LX content are two additional trims: Touring and Limited. At $39,320, the top-of-the-line Limited replaces the LX and Touring's power soft top with a power hardtop. Here again, when price is a factor, the $36,575 Volkswagen EOS is the only four-passenger, hardtop convertible to better Sebring Limited's sticker. Moreover, Sebring has more rear-seat legroom and cargo room than either the Mustang or EOS convertibles.

Chrysler didn't do much tinkering with the Sebring for 2010. Generally, Chrysler is on standby for the larger changes that are expected to come as Fiat becomes more involved in its product lineup in 2011 and 2012. Chrysler found only four Sebring improvements worth mentioning in press material describing the 2010 Sebring: smoother hood, new wheels, redesigned gauge cluster and front-seat active head restraints.

Each of Sebring Convertible's three trim levels derives its giddiyup from a different engine. The base LX uses a 173-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine. The Touring offers a few additional ponies with its 186-horsepower 2.7-litre V6. At the top of the Sebring food chain is the Limited's 235-horsepower 3.5-litre V6. Funneling engine output to the front wheels in the LX and Touring is a four-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed driver-shiftable automatic serves the same function in the Limited.

Most "Greenies" won't be overwhelmed with the fuel economy numbers of any version of the Sebring Convertible. The LX offers the most fuel-stingy option, posting an EPA equivalent estimate of 11.7 L/100km in the city and 8.1 on the highway (Canadian figures are the same in the city and more optimistic at 7.6 L/100km on the highway). Offering only a modest increase in performance, the Touring's numbers are less impressive at 14.7 L/100km in the city and 9.0 on the highway. Actually posting a better highway rating than the Touring, the EPA ranks the Limited at a metric equivalent 14.7 L/100km city/8.7 highway.

My test convertible was the Limited. Even with the added weight of the steel hardtop, it accelerated with subdued gusto. This is not a convertible targeting performance enthusiasts; so expecting too much, even from the Limited, will leave you wanting more. However, the Limited delivers spirited acceleration and decent handling. The steering is a bit vague, but again, it's perfectly acceptable for every-day driving.

Scoring well in both the government and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, the Sebring Convertible offers a number of safety features such as four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and front-seat side-impact airbags. However, if electronic stability control is high on your list of must haves – and it should be – you will have to move up to either the Touring or Limited trim where it comes standard.

As convertible interiors go, Sebring provides better than average accommodations. Furnished for four, it offers liveable passenger space, even for those in the rear seat. With the hardtop lowered, two bags of golf clubs will still fit easily in the trunk – four bags of clubs with the top up. There are 368 litres (13 cubic feet) of trunk space and that's about as good as it gets in a convertible.

The Limited comes standard with leather seating. This elevates the passenger experience while enhancing the overall appearance of the cabin. Chrysler made almost no effort to disguise the amount of plastic at work inside this cabin. The styling, however, is appealing with the analogue clock located high in the centre of the dashboard offering a nice up-level touch. Beefier front-seat side bolsters would help, but the front seats are comfortable enough.

Operating from the remote key fob, the power top raises and lowers in about 30 seconds with just the push of a button. The Limited also features automatic climate control, heated front seats, trip computer and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls.

There are fancier, quicker, more expensive convertibles out there; but if your demands don't trend to the high end, the Sebring Convertible will allow you to get some sun in your face without emptying your bank account. It may not be glamorous, but it is competent and gets the drop-top job done.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Chrysler, 2010, Sebring Convertible, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

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