2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Bob McHugh

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Palm Springs, California – The junior member of the once mighty and seemingly invincible “big three” domestic automakers has pulled the wraps off an all new Sebring family sedan.

Amid industry-wide production cutbacks and downsizing plans, Chrysler is still forging ahead on an ambitious series of product launches. The Dodge Caliber was an early ’07 release and it appears to be a big hit with consumers. The Jeep division recently released its new Compass and Wrangler models, and there are more on the horizon.

The new 2007 Chrysler Sebring is light-years ahead of its current namesake, particularly in terms of chassis sophistication and interior refinement. The new body is a stylish attention-getter, but I think it’s the interior improvements and new technical innovations that will really impress consumers.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

And then there’s the value. “More car for less money,” was how Scott Slagle, the Senior Brand Manager for Chrysler Car Marketing summed up the new Sebring’s many attributes. Its base price of $22,995 includes a 4-speed automatic transmission, a full safety package (same as the top line version) and an impressive list of standard features. The base price of the 2006 Sebring is $24,880.

In Canada, there are three distinct versions of the ’07 Sebring with three different engines. The base model comes with a 173-hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, the Touring edition has a 189-hp flex-fuel (E85) 2.7-litre V6 and the top-line Limited comes with a 235-hp 3.5-litre V6 that’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

In the U.S. it’s marketed and packaged a little differently and you can buy the top-line Sebring Limited with the four-cylinder engine. The Canadian marketing strategy is simpler to option-up a base four-cylinder to a “Touring” equipment level.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

Inspiration for the new Sebring’s exterior styling can be traced back to the Aeroflite concept car, which was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2003. Wider and taller than its predecessor, the new Sebring also has style elements from the Chrysler Crossfire sports car.

Chrysler’s egg-crate grille is prominently positioned up front. An arched rear roofline combined with the short rear deck tends to give it the appearance of a hatchback. Yet, it’s actually a conventional four-door sedan.

Young interior designer Bill Zheng spent three years on the Sebring, the first project that he has been involved with from infancy (initial sketching) to today’s finished product. Zheng was born in China and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was thirteen.

When given this assignment, Zheng was reminded by a design associate of an old saying “to win is to lose”. When a designer is dedicated to a major project like this, that person will invariably lose out on other attractive work opportunities – and he did. Yet, overall he was still pleased with his decision – and so, I think, will Sebring buyers!

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

The dash has a particularly attractive centre-piece that incorporates design traits from the exterior. Zheng explained it as an abstract interpretation of the Chrysler wing badge motif and it features a centrally mounted analog clock.

Three interior features I haven’t seen in any other vehicle also deserve a special mention. MyGig, YesEssntials and “the ultimate cup holder” (my name for it) are all options.

Although not in any of the pre-production test vehicles, a Harman/Kardon information, navigation and entertainment system that Chrysler calls MyGig will be an option. Its touch-screen panel has a three-dimensional appearance and it follows voice commands. A built-in 20-gigabyte hard drive allows you to store photographs as well as music. The input is through a USB port and MyGig is also a DVD player.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring
Top, demonstration of stain resistant YES Essentials seat fabric in the 2007 Chrysler Sebring; bottom, hot/cold cupholder. Click image to enlarge

YES Essentials is a new stain-resistant, odour-resistant, anti-static seat fabric that Chrysler has entered for an ’07 AJAC Technology Award. This treated synthetic material is so tightly woven it resists staining (ketchup and mustard used in a convincing demo) yet feels soft and cool. That said, quick drying liquids, like glue or nail polish, still require rapid removal action.

The “ultimate” cup holder (photo) is another new option that will keep your coffee hot or your Coke cool. It can either heat to 60 degrees C or chill to 2 degrees C depending on how you flip the switch.

Other nice interior touches include light-emitting diode (LED) interior lighting with high-focus white map lights. The front power windows also have an express-up as well as down feature and they can also be operated by the remote key fob. Remote engine start, again via the key fob, is another option.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

A 60/40 fold-flat rear seat is standard and a fold-flat front passenger seat that can be used as a table is an option. The Sebring also offers front seat heaters with cloth upholstery. Most other vehicles make you choose leather upholstery to get seat heaters and leather may only be available on the top-line version.

The driver’s seat H-point (or hip-position) is 65-mm higher than the current Sebring, so you sit taller. Being able to see the hood slope makes it a little easier judge the corners while parking. In fact, although the side windows get smaller towards the back I still didn’t notice any serious vision issues and the side mirrors are commendably large.

I drove a near-base Sebring with the 2.4-litre engine through a mountain section of the drive with three people on board, and was pleasantly surprised by the performance. This is the new World Engine with dual variable valve timing (VVT) and is mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

The new four-cylinder not only offers more power than the engine it replaces but also better fuel economy. The city fuel numbers are 9.7 L/100 km and on the highway it’s rated at an extremely frugal 6.6 L/100/km (which is 43 mpg Imperial).

Admittedly on some extra steep hills I found my right foot was on or close to the floor and some extra grunt would have been appreciated. Yet, overall it was still an enjoyable drive and Sebring is definitely not underpowered when fitted with this engine.

On paper the 2.7-litre V6 doesn’t appear to offer much more power, but it does have it where it counts most – at low rpm. The initial power surge at launch is certainly better. This engine is also designed to run on regular gasoline and a mix of up to 85% ethanol – if you live near a filling station that sells this fuel. Most conventional gasoline engines can only tolerate up to a 20% ethanol mix.

2007 Chrysler Sebring
2007 Chrysler Sebring. Click image to enlarge

Moving up to the 3.5-litre V6 engine, there’s a noticeable power transformation. It can produce 235-horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque and is coupled with a new six-speed automatic transaxle that also has the AutoStick manual mode shifter. It’s even quicker out of the blocks as it has an extra lower gear and smaller steps between gear ratios that make its operation even smoother.

On the road the Sebring’s chassis has a taut feel and the suspension offers a nice balance of ride and handling. Chrysler has also done an excellent job of keeping cabin noise to a minimum and a tilt and telescopic steering column made it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Overall the new Chrysler Sebring is a very impressive offering that could loosen the vice-grip that both Honda Accord and Toyota Camry have on the family sedan market. As usual, however, I’ll reserve final judgment until I get a chance to take one home and live with it for a few days.


2007 Chrysler Sebring Prices

  • Sebring – $22,995
  • Sebring Touring – $25,800
  • Sebring Limited – $29,675


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