The Chrysler Sebring is completely redesigned for 2007, but is available in sedan form only; the convertible will make a comeback, but not this year.

The new Sebring is almost the same length as the model it replaces, but is slightly wider and 10 cm taller; there’s more interior room and a taller seating position, although slightly less cargo volume. Prices are actually lower than the 2006 model it replaces.

Three engines are offered. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder is a “World” engine, produced in Michigan by GEMA (Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance), a cooperation of DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai, and is mated to a four-speed automatic. A 2.7-litre V6 also uses the four-speed, while the 3.5-litre V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode.

The base Sebring uses the 2.4-litre and includes 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure warning lamp, telescopic wheel, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD/MP3 player, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, power windows and locks with keyless entry, cloth seats and cruise control.

The Touring uses the 2.7-litre and adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic headlamps, YES Essentials fabric, fold-flat front passenger seat, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, express up/down windows and illuminated vanity mirrors.

The Limited uses the 3.5-litre and adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, electronic stability control, fog lamps, automatic climate control, tire pressure monitor, theft security system, tortoise shell accents, garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated leather seats, Boston acoustics stereo and satellite radio.

Among the available options, YES Essentials fabric, which can be added to the base model, is exclusive to Chrysler for the next couple of years; it feels like regular cloth, but it’s anti-stain, -static and anti–microbial, and even ketchup and mustard come off cleanly. Other options include an electric heated and cooled cupholder, rear-seat entertainment unit, and MyGIG, a new dash-mounted “infotainment centre” with a 20-gigabyte hard drive that can store music, photos and voice messages, combined with satellite radio, navigation system and a screen that can play movies when the vehicle’s parked. An input jack allows the user to directly download photographs or music.

The new Sebring is designed to Chrysler’s new corporate look, with ribbed hood and squared-off grille. It’s an improvement over the old model, with a comfortable ride and fairly quick handling, although there’s some body roll on hard corners. The interior mimics the exterior front-end styling, but its curves and sharp angles don’t always work together. Rear-seat legroom is very impressive for the car’s size.

The four-cylinder is a great bargain in this car: it’s gutsy, fairly quiet and works very well. Both V6 engines do their jobs quietly and efficiently, and the 3.5-litre has great acceleration, but it really doesn’t need a six-speed transmission, and it shifts too much. This is a good car for the money, but it’s competing in a very crowded segment. News is that the upcoming convertible will be offered in a retractable hardtop, which should be worth waiting for.

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