Sporty/performance car; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,800*


1997 Chrysler Sebring LX 2-door coupe


1996 Chrysler Sebring 2-door convertible


1996 Chrysler Sebring 2-door convertible


1997 Chrysler Sebring JXi 2-door convertible


1995 Chrysler Sebring 2-door coupe


1997 Chrysler Sebring LX

Pros:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder manual, V6)
  • Antilock brakes (optional on some)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Acceleration (2.0-liter automatic)
  • Noise
  • Radio controls
  • Rear visibility

All told, this stylish open car is also practical for all seasons, offering the expected virtues of the ragtop breed and only a few of the familiar vices. For an appealing combination of sport and practicality, these well-designed automobiles deserve a close look–despite a few drawbacks.

Overview

Sebring was Chrysler’s version of the Dodge Avenger, a front-drive sports coupe that went on sale in fall of 1994. Sebrings did not reach dealerships until early 1995. While the Avenger leaned toward the sporty side, Sebring aimed at more luxury-oriented buyers. Both cars had unusually roomy rear seats for sports coupes. Sebrings had different front and rear styling and, being more costly, a higher level of interior trim and standard equipment. LX Sebrings used a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated 140 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard; 4-speed automatic optional. The upscale LXi has a more potent 2.5-liter V6 and came only with automatic.

Yearly Updates

1996 Sebring
Sebring coupes saw only minor changes for ’96. Early in 1996, Chrysler launched a Sebring convertible, built on a longer Cirrus sedan platform, to replace the departed LeBaron convertible. The JX edition used a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. The plusher JXi got a 168-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6. Both convertibles used a 4-speed automatic transmission. The convertible’s standard power top included a glass rear window with a defroster. Antilock brakes were standard on the LXi and JXi, and optional on base models.
1997 Sebring
Coupes gained a new grille this year, plus new front and rear fascias. Convertibles could now be ordered with Chrysler’s Autostick transmission. Autostick allows for operation as a regular automatic, or clutchless manual shifting.
1998 Sebring
Chrysler added a top-of-the-line Limited model to the convertible line. While the Sebring coupe saw little change.
1999 Sebring
Chrysler dropped the 4-cylinder model for the ’99 model year. Also, LXi coupes gained body-color mirrors.
2000 Sebring
Base-model (LX) coupes gained standard equipment this year, including cruise control, power windows. 4-wheel disc brakes, and 16-inch wheels. Convertibles added body insulation to reduce noise and vibration, and could now get an optional emergency escape release inside the trunk.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only two engine choices greeted buyers of the first Sebrings, in 1995: a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that developed 140 horsepower in the LX model, and a Mitsubishi-built 2.5 liter V6 that made 155 horsepower for the LXi. When the convertible debuted for 1996, it brought a larger (2.4-liter) 4-cylinder engine, rated at 150 horsepower. Later V6 engines produce 163 horsepower in the coupe, or 168 in convertibles. Chrysler’s Autostick transmission became available in ’97 convertibles. A 5-speed manual gearbox was available only with 4-cylinder coupes.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/31
21/30
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 155-168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/27

25.6

Road Test

Coupes have plenty of performance when equipped with the 4-cylinder and 5-speed manual transmission, but things slow down considerably with the automatic. Acceleration is decent with the V6, but it lacks low-speed torque and the automatic transmission is slow to downshift for passing. All told, though, it’s a better choice than the 4-cylinder. Both engines promise excellent gas mileage, especially on the highway.

Handling limits are good, and the coupe’s ride is firm but not harsh, apart from some lumpiness over coarse pavement. While wind noise is hushed, road and engine noise are high on the highway, which tends to make long drives more tiring.

The coupe’s interior is just as roomy as Chrysler claims, with ample room for four adults to stretch out, in front and rear. The trunk is quite large, too.

Coupe controls are easy to reach while driving, but the stereo is too low in the center of the dashboard to adjust without a long look away from the road. Coupes also have poor rear visibility, because of wide rear pillars and a high parcel shelf.

Convertible acceleration is more than adequate with the V6 engine, though it can run low on vigor during a corner. Like the coupe, its ride is controlled and devoid of coarseness, if a tad jittery over washboard surfaces. Interiors are roomy, with impressive space for two adults in the backseat. Side windows drop as the power top is actuated, which happens without a hitch. With the top down, occupants can talk in normal tones at highway speeds.

Unfortunately, the convertible does not feel as solid as some rivals. In addition, despite large rear-quarter glass, the fabric top has wide rear “pillars” and a narrow back window, causing an over-the-shoulder blind spot that’s big enough to hide another car. Convertibles have a different dashboard than coupes, with more convenient controls. Their front seats have integrated seatbelts, so you don’t have to grope for a buckle.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Chrysler Sebring coupe 2.5-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 37

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.0 193.0 69.2 54.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.3 16.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 37.0 42.4 35.2
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.7 187.4 69.7 53.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.1 16.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 36.5 43.3 35.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Sebring 2-door convertible

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 100
Injury 78
Theft 105

Trouble Spots

Alarm system
Description: The theft alarm may go off randomly, most often in high winds, and is often due to a misaligned hood. (1995-96)
Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission tends to default to second gear only for no apparent reason requiring the transmission control computer to be reprogrammed. (1996)
Engine misfire
Description: Rough idle, hesitation, and hard restarts during cold weather are due to a defective engine control computer. (1995)
Hard starting
Description: A corroded connector behind the left headlight may cause hard starting, intermittently flashing “Check Engine” light, and radiator/condenser fan that will not run. (1995)
Hard starting
Description: Intermittent no-starts may be due to a damaged wire near the transaxle shift lever. (1995)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak from gallery plug(s) on the 2.7-liter V6 can be fixed by adding an additional plug. (2001-02)
Steering noise
Description: A bad pinch bolt on the coupling between the steering intermediate and gear shafts may cause clunking or rattling noise in the steering column. (1995-00)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The pivot pin in the power sunroof may come out, or the plastic tabs on the control unit may cause interference, preventing the sunroof from closing completely. (1995) The sunroof may open by itself if water shorts the control unit. (1995-96)
Vehicle noise
Description: Noise from rear of vehicle on rough roads might require replacement of spring seats and bushings. (1997-99)

Recall History

1995-97
Description: Lower ball joint can separate due to loss of lubrication; could cause loss of control.
1996 JX w/2.5-liter engine
Description: Disconnected vacuum hose may cause increase in engine idle speed and loss of braking power assist.
1996 convertible
Description: Electrical contacts of power mirror switch can accumulate road salt, which may result in fire.
1996-98 w/automatic transmission
Description: If operator presses button to shift out of Park with key in locked position, pin can break; “ignition-park” interlock would then be nonfunctional.
1997 coupe
Description: On small number of cars, improperly welded head restraint support bracket on passenger side can break.
1998
Description: Dash panel pad can shift, interfering with throttle cable control.
1999-2000
Description: Lower lateral ball joints may have been damaged during assembly, leaking moisture that could corrode the ball stud.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.