New Car/Review

Chrysler

Chrysler Sebring LXi Coupe (2001)

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,475
     Price As Tested                                    $ 25,105
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 184 cid/2972 cc
     Horsepower                                   200 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               205 @ 4500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  103.7"/70.3"/190.2"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3426 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.3 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)             P215/50HR17 all-season performance
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 60 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            20/28/24
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 85.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Bob Hagin points out that the Chrysler Sebring Coupe never raced at that famous Florida track. Matt Hagin points out that buyers don't care and have made it a best-seller over the years.)

BOB: I was surprised at the enthusiasm displayed by the owners of Chrysler Sebrings. One of them built a website just for Sebring owners and everyone who writes in to it is really excited about the car - and that includes owners of even the very early ones. They all especially like the design of the body.

MATT: The Sebring Coupe is all-new this year and it will probably keep attracting the Youth Crew who are looking for lots of styling and don't need a modern muscle car. They just want to look sharp. The Sebring line has been so popular that Chrysler has dropped the Stratus name for the sedan version of this car and it's now called the Sebring Sedan. Our Coupe version rides on a different platform than either the Sebring convertible or the four-door. The mechanicals of the newest Coupe are pretty much as they were when the car was laid out in '95. It comes standard with a somewhat anemic 2.4-liter four-banger that puts our 147 horses from its single overhead cam design. It's a reliable little unit, I'm told, but I think that its a little short on "spirit" when it comes to pulling around this 3500-pound car.

BOB: A much more logical choice is the 3.0-liter V6 that also uses a single overhead cam on each head, but it puts out a much more respectable 200 horses. The torque is higher too, and it comes in at 205 pound/feet. It's not a Chrysler letter-series contender, but it can clock 0-to-60 in eight seconds so the car has no problem staying up with traffic. It's also not high-strung, so it will run fine on the less-expensive 87-octane gasoline. In the old days, I'd call this the cheap gas but today it's a misnomer to call any automotive fuel "cheap." Some grades and station locations are just less expensive than others.

MATT: Our test car was equipped with a five speed manual transmission, which made it fun to row through the gears. But I have to admit that if I had to drive this car around all the time, I'd go for the four-speed automatic, which is much less work. I imagine that most Sebring Coupe owners will feel the same way too and that the automatic will outsell the manual by a large percentage. The engine that's buttoned up to the automatic has a couple of horsepower less but I don't think anyone would notice.

BOB: The brakes on our V6 version were discs all around with an optional anti-lock system. I understand that on the four-cylinder model, the back brakes are drum units. This is another reason to go for the V6 model. The spare tire is not my favorite, being one of those skimpy little "space-savers." I'd much prefer a full-sized spare with a matching tire that could be part of the factory recommended tire rotation. The tires seem rather large at 17 inches, especially since this Sebring Coupe isn't really a high-performance model, but I guess that they add to the panache of the car.

MATT: And that's what cars like the Sebring Coupe are all about, Dad. The styling is swoopy, with a windshield that's swept back so sharply that it's almost part of one continuous line that starts low on the nose of the car and sweeps back over the top to blend into the trunk. This car wasn't built to haul groceries home from the supermarket or take the kids to school. In the past, Chrysler has aimed it at "empty-nesters;" middle-aged couples whose kids are out of the house and a minivan isn't necessary. But now Chrysler is going after the young professionals of both sexes who have few family encumbrances and would otherwise go after a sporting import. It's got the needed accouterments like leather upholstery, a power moonroof and the Chrysler name.

BOB: The Chryslers we had in the family when you were a kid were huge by comparison. We got all seven of you inside, and the dog too. Thank goodness we don't need one of them any more.

MATT: That qualifies you as an "empty-nester," Dad. But that doesn't explain why I spend so much time at your house. It must be the coffee.

 

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