2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery: 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible

He’s cool. He’s hip. And he’s not yet 45 – so what am I doing here?

It seems that there is a particular age bracket, as well as a particular gender that gravitates towards this thing we call Sebring. Whether it’s the rag or the hard shell, the new Sebring Convertible continues along many of the similar lines and trim that we’ve come to expect from the 40-something convertible set. Speaking of forty-something, the Sebring Limited softy appears to be pulling a page from a Seinfeld bit. “If you’re 45, spend 45.” That’s 45 grand folks. Well, it’s actually $44,370, when you include $1300 destination and the $100 A/C fee for this week’s 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited soft-top. Let’s find out if the price is acting its age inside, or if it’s been shot full of Botox stop-gap fillers.


Cabin/Controls:

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

Whether it’s New Chrysler, Old Chrysler, or something in-between, the interior switches appear to be moving in the right tactile direction. When in Topless Country, there are a few must-haves for this type of buck. The key fob has the ability to auto-down all four windows, and lower the top into the glam clamshell trunk space cavity. The tilt/telescoping column houses a generic-mount cruise control flipper, and audio source and volume keys on the backside of the steering wheel.

The trunk release and convertible top operation controls are found to the left of the driver, though I continue to ponder the placement of a trunk release node in plain sight of an X-Acto knife-wielding top slasher, bent on making off with your emergency spare tire. The driver info keys are found between the audio system and the HVAC controls, displaying key elements in the far-left fuel/coolant gauge pod. My personal favourite is the confirmation display for the ragtop, which informs the driver that the top up/down procedure is in motion, with an audible chime occurring when the operation is complete.

The six-speed automatic shift includes the AutoStick manu-mode. Chrysler needs to address the gauge face material, which looks like someone shining a flashlight through a piece of paper during night driving. Exterior mirrors are power, as well as electrically toasty for the frosty months. The primary rear-view mirror possesses an auto-dimming feature, when equipped with the optional Luxury Group found on the tester.


Convenience:

I hate to have to come back to what ‘Limited’ means over at Newbie Chryco, but there continues to be headscratch as to what’s missing. The Luxury Group includes the Homelink transmitter on the driver’s side visor.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

And yet, both visors possess zero illumination. The front door pockets are sized well, while the locking glovebox is an acceptable void. Directly below the HVAC controls is a cell phone ‘garage’, with good depth, and a 12-volt DC plug-in. There’s an additional 12-volt jolt in the centre console, with a flip-down stuff tray in the console box cover. The tray has an indentation, which allows a power cord to be routed through for charging.

A simple coin organization array is found within the console. The console also houses the best thing to happen to on-board beverages since the straw: the rear cupholder can be heated or cooled, with the touch of a switch. The mode you’re in is shown by a lighted display in the centre of the cupholder address; red for hot, blue for cool. The technology is not yet at the point of Big Gulp climate changes, with the receptacle sized more for overpriced lattes and exotic smoothies. There is good cinch for either holder, as well as two armrest-mount units in the rear seat. The MyGIG infotainment system (infotainment?) boasts relative ease for navigation purposes.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

To date, the UConnect Bluetooth phone sync is one of the easiest to engage, with the pretty and elusive guidance voice stating which commands are actually going to work. There are inlets for both MP3 players, as well as a USB hub for media downloads to the system. Considering the realm of possibilities of MyGIG, the $2000 wallet dent seems downright reasonable. (That includes the UConnect system.)

The only downside to traditional audiophiles is the one-disc stacker, which pretty much forces you to read the instructions to download your Dave Brubeck catalogue from Limewire. It’s called ‘Progress’. A foldable windscreen for the rear seats is included, with built-in wobble. Access to the rear seat is accomplished with a top-mount lever, returning the seatback to its previously-set incline position. Front seats have two-step heat, and power adjustment for the driver.


Fit and Finish:

I’m not sure which form of beast Chrysler derives its leather hides from, but they continue to disappoint.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

Supple they’re not. The manu-lumbar lever on the driver’s seat has four settings: Ouch; Quit It; Hey, I’m Not Playing With You; and Spastic Drooling.
The tortoise shell inserts are at least different, even if they seem intent on matching up with someone’s oversized shades. (Editor’s note: oversized sunglasses have now entered their 14th minute of fame.)

Chryco has started to add a little more padding to the plastics; keep going. Tolerances are tight, with the only real sniggly being the furry plastic bits that hang off of the tops of the door panels, where they meet the glass. The top and relative functions work extremely well, with minimal clunk from the trunk. Only one dribble was recorded during the Automatic Car Wash Test. The rear window is glass, with the necessary defog ability. A glaring concern is the side mirrors, which possess no breakaway ability.


Spare/Trunk/Cargo:

Oomph! Feeling a little scrawny? Do 20 reps of this trunk lid a day, three times a week, then launch your own infomercial. It couldn’t be anything but heavy, considering the top-fold mechanism.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

The problem is that there is no usable grab point to push it back down, which requires almost as much force to open the lid. A power open/close feature is the ultimate fix. To avoid damage to the top mechanism, a special partition guides cargo into the front portion of the hold, which can be stuffed to the gills without interfering with the top operation. The partition can be removed for large items, with the top-down function disabled without the partition in place.

As most owners of Pontiac G6 and VW Eos retractables have already learned, sexy stowage of the top means minimal stowage for you. There are still a few unshielded wires that pop up, though they are getting harder to find. The emergency donut spare is found below the cargo floor. Roadside assistance is offered for five years or 100,000 kilometres.


Safety features:

Peace of mind still costs extra, even at the Limited level. The Electronic Stability Program is a $525 touch. Side curtain airbags protect front and rear passengers, with torso bags embedded in the front seats, along with the dual frontal pillows. The front belts are mounted in the seats, so lets hope that their anchor system is as robust as a traditional B-pillar.


Engine Compartment:

2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible
2008 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible. Click image to enlarge

The Limited hood opens to reveal the 3.5-litre V6, and stays aloft with a fashionable yellow prop rod. With the massive plastic engine cover removed, the Three-Five should allow reasonable service access. None of the fluid fill points are in need of detention. There is an automatic transmission check tube, with the cautionary ‘Dealer Service Only’ warning. Headlamp bulb replacement will most likely require parts removal.


Clarkey Rating:

Considering that Chrysler specifically engineered the Convertible version of the Sebring, the end result addresses many of the drop-top conundrums that plague vehicles treated to the Ginzu School of Soft/Hardtop. Assuming that the servo’s are in it for the long haul, this is a drop-top with sensibility on its side. If Chrysler can address the materials and slight fit and finish issues, the Sebring will easily grab a five-star score, instead of four for this incarnation.

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