Now into its final year before being restyled, the 2000 Chrysler Sebring still looks good. It’s standard 2.5 litre V6 engine is smooth though not overly powerful, and it’s four-passenger interior is the roomiest in its class. Available in three trim levels, Sebring convertibles range from $32,585 to $37,555.
More than just roomy – it’s classy too
The Chrysler Sebring convertible is now into its fifth model year since it was introduced and will be replaced by a redesigned model for 2001. Still, it remains one of the most stylish and roomiest convertibles on the market, and a relatively good value for under $35,000. Other convertibles in this price range include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunfire and VW Cabrio, but none of these cars are directly comparable to the Sebring. The Camaro, Firebird and Mustang are smaller, performance-oriented rear-wheel-drive convertibles that offer optional V8 engines; while the Cabrio, Cavalier and Sunfire are all considerably smaller 2+2 convertibles with four cylinder powerplants.
The Sebring convertible, on the other hand, is a V6-powered front-wheel-drive mid-sized convertible with an interior that will seat four adults, a trunk that is comparatively large, and offers a clean stylish design that’s sporty, but not aggressively sporty.
Based on the Cirrus platform
First introduced in 1996, the Sebring convertible is based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the 1995 Chrysler Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze cars rather than, as you might expect, on the Sebring coupe which is actually a Mitsubishi-designed product. A 2.4 litre four cylinder engine was available on the base Sebring convertible JX model until 1999, but the optional 2.5 litre V6 engine became standard on all trim levels in 1999.
For 2000, just a few changes were made. Additional sound insulation was added in the wheelhouses and behind the rear seats, and a foam backing was added to the convertible top. The steering was given a firmer feel, and a Brake-Park interlock was added to ensure that drivers have their foot on the brake before taking the transmission out of Park.
Also, a new Limited trim level was added above the JX and JXi trim levels. Limited models added such standard features as chromed alloy wheels, four-speed AutoStick transmission, CD player and graphic equalizer, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, and HomeLink garage door opener.
Power convertible top
A power-operated top is standard equipment, and it’s easy to put up and down from the driver’s seat. After unclipping the two attachments on the windshield, a power button on the console does the rest. However, the attachment clips should be folded over to prevent the clips from sticking out, and a vinyl boot cover should be placed over the folded top to prevent dirt and moisture from getting in to the top. This, of course, requires getting out of the car. The tan convertible top of my metallic red test car was made of a quality fabric material (the white model has a white vinyl top for easier cleaning), and has an inner lining for sound insulation, and a glass rear window with electric defroster.
With the top down, there is very little wind buffeting in the front seat, and conversation is possible at highway speeds. Rear passengers however get considerably more wind buffeting.
The Sebring convertible’s four-passenger interior is the roomiest in its class. As mentioned, there is lots of legroom for two rear passengers, and sufficient width as well. Getting into the rear seats is aided by front seats that slide forward with the seatback reclined – as well, the front seats have integrated three-point seatbelts which means that rear passengers don’t have to climb under the shoulder belt when getting in. Since the integrated seatbelts move with the front seats when they are adjusted fore and aft, they fit more comfortably across the driver and passenger’s shoulders, regardless of the position of the front seats.
Like its classy exterior, the Sebring convertible has a simple, tasteful interior design with a large hood to cover the round instruments from glare, a floor/console shift lever, a centre armrest to rest the right arm on, and simple round controls for the heater, and white-on-black buttons for the stereo.
My only reservation was with the look and quality of the dashboard material – I think it could be a little better than it is for a car in this price range.
With a fully independent double wishbone suspension and standard 15 inch tires (optional 16 inch), the Sebring handles well and rides even better. Highway cruising is very comfortable, and you could conceivably drive long distances in comfort with the top down. There is some windshield shake when travelling over sudden bumps and lumps in the road, but the body and suspension feel fairly solid. Sebrings come with standard disc brakes all around and standard anti-lock brakes for braking safety.
The 168 horsepower 2.5 litre V6 engine and 4-speed automatic ‘AutoStick’ transmission are very smooth but the engine is not overly powerful – the Sebring can’t match the performance of cars like the Camaro Z28 convertible and Mustang GT convertible. Of course, it’s not meant to. The Sebring convertible is a stylish, open-air convertible, not a ‘muscle-car’. For what it is, the Sebring convertible has adequate performance.
Fuel consumption is quite reasonable for a mid-sized V6-powered car. Transport Canada fuel economy ratings are 13.1 l/100 km (22 mpg) in the city and 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg) on the highway.
JX, JXi, and Limited models
For a base MSRP of $32,585, the Sebring convertible JX includes a standard 2.5 litre V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission, power convertible top, vinyl ‘ultrahide’ seat upholstery, floor console and shift lever, air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette, power driver’s seat, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry, dual power heated mirrors, cruise control, tilt steering column, front disc/rear drum brakes, and P205/65R-15 inch tires.
For $35,230, JXi models add the following features to the JX: leather upholstery, anti-theft system, P215/55R-16 inch tires with alloy wheels, and front fog lamps.
Limited models, for $37,555, add the features mentioned above and: four-speed AutoStick transmission, chromed alloy wheels, CD player and graphic equalizer, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, and HomeLink garage door opener.
2000 Sebring convertibles are built Toluca, Mexico, but the 2001 models will be built in Michigan.
I’ve seen the new model, and it’s not a heck of a lot different in terms of styling. The styling of the current model is not trendy or overdone, and I think it will look good for another five years at least. And with a new model coming, buyers will probably be able to get a very good price on the remaining 2000 models.
|2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible Limited|
|Base price||(JX) $32,585|
|Price as tested||(Limited) $37,555|
|Type||2-door, 4-passenger mid-sized convertible|
|Layout||transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive|
|Engine||2.5 litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves|
|Horsepower||168 @ 5800 rpm|
|Torque||170 2 4350 rpm|
|Transmission||4 speed automatic ‘Autostick’|
|Curb weight||1511 kg (3332 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2692 mm (106.0 in.)|
|Length||4902 mm (193.0 in.)|
|Width||(at mirror tips) 2006 mm (79.0 in.)|
|Height||1392 mm (54.8 in.)|
|Trunk space||311 litres (11.0 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 13.1 l/100 km (22 mpg)|
|Hwy: 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|