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#18

in 2009 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,488 - $10,780
Original MSRP: $20,515 - $35,125
MPG: 21 City / 30 Hwy
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2009 Chrysler Sebring Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Chrysler Sebring has consistently scored low in our performance rankings. Reviewers say its standard engine is vastly underpowered, while the two V6 engines offered still trail what most competitors offer and get comparatively poor fuel economy. Critics say that the Sebring's suspension is comfortable, but its steering elicits many complaints. 

  • "Curvy two-lane roads exacerbate the Sebring's lousy steering and make it difficult to aim the car precisely. The ride is overly soft and floaty, and combinations of sudden bumps and curves toss the Sebring around to the point that the suspension just can't keep up." -- About.com
  • "Unfortunately, the Sebring's top-spec engine, a relatively torquey 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, is no Hemi. And while the 3.5-liter's standard six-speed manu-matic shifts smoothly and intuitively, the four-speed automatics mated to the 2.4-liter four and the 2.7-liter V-6 are somewhat clunky and rough." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The best powertrain is the Limited trim level's standard 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic; it's the only one that provides strong acceleration." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Chrysler Sebring is offered with three engine options. The base inline four-cylinder engine makes 173 horsepower and is the most fuel-efficient, with an EPA rating of 21/30 mpg city/highway. But many test drivers find it underpowered. V6 options include a 2.7-liter model making 186 horsepower, which is rated at 19/27 mpg. That one doesn't impress writers much more than the four-cylinder. Both the four-cylinder and the smaller V6 are also hampered by an antiquated four-speed automatic transmission. The top-of-the-line 3.5-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission is offered on Limited models. It has 235 horsepower, but one of the lowest fuel-economy ratings in the midsize class at 16/27 mpg, even with the more advanced six-speed transmission.

  • "Four-cylinder Sebrings struggle in passing and merging situations, though they cope adequately with around-town driving. The 2.7 V6 is stronger overall, though its transmission shifts harshly. Power is ample with the 3.5-liter V6, but the 6-speed's rough, delayed downshifts frustrate passing efforts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2.7-liter V-6 handled all situations impressively, but was noisy when asked to do maximum duty. Interior cabin conversations had to be put on pause when I accelerated onto local freeways." -- Sacramento Bee
  • "The top V6 is still a tad light on off-the-line pull, but it's plenty satisfying once it revs up and considerably smoother than the smaller engines." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Most auto writers like the suspension tuning of the Sebring, which is geared for a smooth ride. Fewer like the electronically-assisted steering, which can feel light and imprecise. The car's brakes stop it well, but some complain of poor pedal feel.

  • "Good isolation from bumps and rough surfaces, but highway-speed stability is compromised by excessive body float over dips and swells." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It lacks the driver involvement of even a Honda Accord." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Turning the steering wheel revealed the same odd sensations we found on earlier Sebring and Avenger drives, specifically, sharp turn-in followed by vagueness. The light steering effort didn't help us get our bearings, either." -- Car and Driver
  • "Ride quality is among the Sebring's strong points, as it proves both comfortable and composed at freeway speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "The all-disc brakes are easy to modulate and delivered strong performance on the Southern California canyon roads on which I drove the convertible. Brake pedal feel is a bit spongy, though." -- Cars.com

Next Steps: 2009 Chrysler Sebring

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