The sharp-looking Chrysler Sebring is a purpose-built convertible rather than a coupe or sedan with the roof lopped-off. It replaced the LeBaron convertible in the Chrysler line when it was launched in 1995 as a ’96 model. The Sebring is also unique in convertible circles in that it can comfortably accommodate up to four adults as it has decently-sized rear seats and a trunk that’s bigger than the norm too.
Based on a modified Cirrus platform, the Sebring Convertible has a longer wheelbase than the Coupe and in fact, other than a name, it shares very little with the coupe. The 1996 Convertible came in two trim levels JX, with a 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine, and JXi, with a 2.5 litre V6 engine supplied by Mitsubishi. Fuel consumption with the V6 engine is 11.8 L/100 km (24 mpg) and highway rating is 7.7 L/100 km (37 mpg).
Sebring Convertibles are built at a Chrysler plant in Toluca, Mexico. Standard features include a four-wheel double-wishbone fully independent suspension, integrated front seat belts and a power top with a glass back window. Although not a particularly quick car, it handles well for a fairly heavy car, the ride is extremely comfortable and quiet, and the fuel consumption figures are surprisingly good.
The 1997 model year brought changes to the base 4-cylinder engine to make it quieter and an Autostick transmission was added to the option list. This design of automatic transmission has an additional manual shift feature, for those times when you prefer to do your own gear changes. It also has a better reputation for dependability than the standard 4-speed automatic. Probably because it’s built to more robust specifications, in order to handle manual operation.
A new anti-theft system with a coded ignition key was added in 98. The V6 engine was made standard in ’99 and the Autostick transmission was sadly discontinued. The base JX trim also got a bunch of nice new standard features including; remote keyless entry, 6-way power driver’s seat, time-delay headlamps, speed control and remote power trunk release.
An improperly calibrated powertrain control module (PCM) on the ’96 Sebring may cause high CO emissions. Water and road salt entering the power mirror switch may cause a short circuit. And a brake booster vacuum hose may work loose and disconnect at the intake manifold. A loss of brake power assist and a high engine idle will occur, if this happens.
The lower control arm ball joint cover seal (boot) on the ’96 and ’97 Sebring may leak and the lack of lubrication inside the joint can cause accelerated wear.
The roomy Chrysler Sebring Convertible is a nice combination of style and comfort and a great way to get around on a summer day. More practical than most convertibles a Sebring is an easy sell when the weather gets warm.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.