2009 Chrysler Sebring Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

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2009 Chrysler Sebring Buying Advice

If you like the looks and performance of the Chrysler Sebring, the best things this sedan has going for it are choice and price. With three available engines and lots of options, it’s easy to equip a 2009 Chrysler Sebring to individual taste, and save some money over many competitive vehicles.

The best value in the Chrysler Sebring lineup is the Touring model with the 2.7-liter V-6. Add some safety options like antiskid control to complement standard safety features like side air bags and anti-lock brakes. Then choose from interior upgrades such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated seats, which help address criticisms about Sebring’s cheap-feeling interior.

The result is a safe, nicely equipped car for an attractive price. Cost aside, but best model in the Sebring line is the Limited sedan with the 3.5-liter V-6, but at around $24,000, it’s priced against some better all-around cars – unless you’re partial to all-wheel drive. If so, an extensive list of standard equipment makes the all-wheel-drive-equipped Limited AWD model look like a real bargain at around $28,000.

Bear in mind that Chrysler has been very liberal with factory cash-back incentives and low-interest loan rates on the Sebring, so treat the price you see on the window sticker as a starting point. Bargain down from there, and if the dealer balks, talk a walk over to a competing Chrysler retailer.

While the Chrysler Sebring is not without fault, it is a basically good car up against some great competition. It has been the victim of a negative journalistic feeding frenzy, but buyers are speaking with their checkbooks. Sebring is one of the few Chrysler cars showing steadily increasing sales.

Sebring comes as a four-door sedan and a two-door convertible. The sedan is basically a gussied-up version of the Dodge Avenger. Avenger doesn’t offer a convertible model. The Sebring convertible is further distinguished by offering a choice of a power folding vinyl top, which is standard, or an optional fold-down hard top.

Both sedans and convertibles are offered in LX, Touring and Limited models. Sedans and the Convertible LX come with a 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A 190-horsepower 2.7-liter V-6 is standard on the Touring convertible and optional on the Touring sedan. A 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 is standard on the AWD Limited sedan and the Limited convertible optional on the Limited sedan.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Changes back to top

The current Chrysler Sebring sedan debuted as a 2007 model, while the convertible followed as a 2008. This generation of Sebring is expected to be sold until the 2010 or 2011 model year, at which time it could be replaced by a different midsize Chrysler offering. If so, the Sebring name may live on in a redesigned convertible as Chrysler tries to capitalize on the model’s good track record as one of America’s top-selling convertibles over the years (even though many of those sales were to rental fleets).

No change to the 2009 Chrysler Sebring will significantly alter its performance or passenger accommodations from those of the 2008 model. Statements in this review about performance and accommodations are based on detailed test drives of the 2008 Chrysler Sebring.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Test Drive back to top

Driving the Chrysler Sebring:  Chrysler Sebring sedans feel solid and tight. Convertibles exhibit a small amount of flex over bigger bumps and railroad tracks; a car’s roof comprises a significant part of its structure, so this is typical of most convertibles.

Sedan or convertible, initial steering response feels slower than many competitors’. Corners are executed with noticeable body lean, but the tires retain traction even when pushed hard.

Speaking of traction, the front-wheel-drive layout that’s standard on Sebring and most of its rivals isn’t as good for dry-road handling as a rear-wheel drive, but rear drive in midsize cars is reserved for higher price brackets. Front-wheel-drive cars are less prone to spin out, and, with the weight of their engine over the driving wheels, have better traction in snow than rear-drive cars. Frequently encounter deep or wet snow? Seriously consider a Sebring with AWD. This system normally operates in front-drive, but automatically feeds power to the rear wheels when sensors detect the fronts are losing traction. It doesn’t turn the Sebring into a go-anywhere SUV, but works like a charm as an all-weather safety net.

As for handling, V-6 Sebring models come with what Chrysler calls a Touring suspension (not to be confused with the Touring trim level) and this gives a good balance of smooth ride and stable road manners.

Most reviewers find Sebring’s four-cylinder engine noisy and underpowered. The 2.7-liter V-6 provides adequate acceleration for merging and passing, though in brisk traffic such maneuvers require full throttle, where the engine delivers power smoothly but emits a noticeable growl. The 3.5-liter V-6 has ample power and is the smoothest and most refined Sebring engine choice.

Riding in the Chrysler Sebring:  Sedan interior space is on par with midsize competitors. Rear headroom feels better than average. Convertible rear seat room is marginal. Seats are firm though comfortable. Sebring Touring gets stain resistant fabric that is available on LX, while Limited seats are leather trimmed, also available in a package for Touring. Door armrests are hard, and the center armrest offers thin padding.

The ride is soft, with good bump absorption. Road, wind and engine noise are minimal at a steady cruise in sedans. Noise levels vary in the convertible. When raised, the retractable steel roof does deaden sound more than the two available soft tops.

Chrysler Sebring dashboard and controls:  The Sebring dashboard is nicely designed, with a shape that tapers out from the center to evoke the Chrysler “wing” logo. Lower trim levels get satin silver accents, and a rather rubbery feeling steering wheel, while Limiteds are trimmed in richer-looking tortoise shell plastic and have a leather-wrapped wheel.

Sebring has white gauge faces that glow with a pleasing blue light at night. Control placement is clean and uncluttered. Headlights, windshield wipers, and cruise control switches are mounted on steering-column stalks. Sebring’s remote trunk-release button, which can be hard to reach on some rival cars, is prominently placed to the left of the steering wheel.

In the top center of the dashboard sits a Chrysler trademark analog clock. Base-level audio systems have simple controls and include as standard a CD player, MP3 player input jack, and satellite radio capability. Optional is a combination audio and navigation system that’s relatively intuitive and benefit from a combination of buttons and touch screen interface. Both the manual and automatic climate controls use a common three-knob layout.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Prices back to top

The base Sebring LX sedan starts around $19,000 with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and automatic transmission. The Sebring Touring sedan stickers for a little over $20,000 and adds several appearance and convenience features to the LX, as well much greater option availability. The Sebring Limited sedan runs just under $24,000 and includes leather interior and upgraded stereo. The Sebring Limited AWD (all-wheel-drive) sedan includes the 3.5-liter V-6 for around $28,000.

The LX convertible starts around $26,000, the Limited convertible starts around $32,500. The power folding hardtop adds about $2,200 to the LX convertible and about $2,000 to the Limited.

To upgrade the engine on Sebring Touring sedans, it will cost around $1,350 for the 2.7-liter V-6, which, like the base 2.4-liter engine, comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5 V-6, which comes with a far-more-modern six-speed automatic, transmission, adds about $1,750 to a Sebring Limited sedan.

Various packages are available for the different trim levels to upgrade the Sebring’s creature comforts, ranging from $400 to $1,400. The multimedia entertainment, communication, and navigation system can run anywhere from $600 to $1,600, depending on the trim level and other equipment.

More important is the Safety/Security and Convenience Group, which ranges from around $120 to $1,100, depending on model. This includes such key safety features as traction control, which fights tire spin when accelerating; rear disc brakes to complement the standard front disc brakes; and an antiskid system, which applies the brakes to individual wheels to correct a skid. The antiskid system is standard on the AWD Limited sedan.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Fuel Economy back to top

EPA estimates are 20 mpg city/29 highway with the four-cylinder engine, 18/26 with the 2.7-liter V-6, and 16/26 with the 3.5-liter V-6.

In real-world driving, expect 18 to 22 mpg in four-cylinder and 2.7-liter V-6 in mixed highway and city driving. These engines use-regular-grade gas. The 2.7 V-6 is a flex-fuel capable engine that can run on gasoline, E85 ethanol, or any mix of the two. As with any flex fuel vehicle, ethanol blends will yield lower fuel economy, though this is sometimes offset by lower fuel prices.

Chrysler recommends 89-octane fuel for the 3.5-liter V-6, which should yield 16 to 21 mpg. The AWD Sebring uses this engine and will likely average a mile or two less per gallon.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Safety and Reliability back to top

Sebring sedans score well in government crash tests, receiving the maximum five out of five stars for the driver and passenger in front and side crashes. Rear seat occupants receive a four-star rating in side crash testing.

Side curtain air bags for both rows are standard, as are side seat air bags for the front.  Side seat air bags are standard on convertibles as well.

While the current-generation Chrysler hasn’t been on the road long enough to assess long-term reliability, J.D. Power and Associates, the leading customer satisfaction ratings firm, has completed initial quality studies of the 2007 model.

However, Sebring owners report a higher-than-average incidence of problems in the first 90 days of ownership compared to other redesigned vehicles. This is also deterioration in quality ratings from the last of the previous-generation 2006 Sebrings.

Main complaints of defects included wind and engine noise, and difficult trunk operation. Many owners also found the cruise control hard to use and complained of delayed shifting of the transmission.

J. D. Power points out that a drop in initial quality is not unusual with an all-new car as problems get sorted out.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Release Date back to top

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring release date is autumn 2008.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Competition back to top

Four of the top-ten best-selling vehicles in the U.S. are midsize cars, including the Honda Accord. Other key Sebring competitors include the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion.

The Honda Accord was all-new for model-year 2008 and offers both sedan and two-door coupe body styles. The Accord comes only with front-wheel drive and is priced higher than a comparably equipped Sebring sedan, a price cushion justified by the Accord’s better quality and higher resale value. Accord sedans are priced around $21,500 for the base LX trim four-cylinder with an automatic transmission, up to about $30,500 for a V-6 with navigation. The Accord isn’t expected to change significantly before model-year 2013.

The Chevrolet Malibu comes only as a front-wheel-drive sedan, as well. The Malibu LS model starts higher than the comparable Sebring, at around $20,000 with a fine 2.4-liter four-cylinder and standard automatic transmission. The mid-level Malibu LT costs around $21,500. The V-6 engine adds an additional $2,000 or so. The top line Malibu LTZ is closer to $27,000 with a V-6. New for the 2008 model year, a Malibu redesign won’t arrive until the 2011 or 2012 model year.

Closer to the Sebring in price is the Ford Fusion. It comes only as a sedan, but unlike Sebring, offers a manual transmission and is available with all-wheel drive. A base Fusion S model with an automatic transmission runs around $19,000, though like Sebring’s, its four-cylinder has received poor reviews. A Fusion SE with the better 3.0 V-6 starts in $22,000 territory. Fusion debuted as a 2007 model and will see a restyling for 2010. The next generation isn’t expected until 2011 for the 2012 model year.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Next Steps