Once the bastion of old-fashioned, overweight, gas-guzzling behemoths, Chrysler now offers
some of the leanest, handsomest vehicles built in America. The new Sebring Coupe continues
Chrysler's new styling tradition into the 21st century.
According to DaimlerChrysler, consumer research shows that the Sebring name evokes a
youthful attitude. The marketing folks liked the name so much that for 2001, they
redesigned the Cirrus sedan and welcomed it into the Sebring family, which also includes
America's favorite convertible for the last five years running. The coupe is different
from the sedan and convertible, however, because it is built in Normal, Illinois alongside
the Dodge Stratus Coupe and the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
It may share a platform with the mechanically styled Eclipse, but the new Sebring
Coupe's look is pure Chrysler. From the low, oval grille, introduced on the full-size
Concorde sedan to the high, chiseled taillights of the new classic 300M, the Sebring looks
perfect. The soaring Chrysler wings are prominent on the nose and the word
"CHRYSLER" graces the side, but surprisingly, there is no Chrysler badging on
the highly visible tail section, just "Sebring" on the left and "LXi"
on the right.
My Ruby Red Pearl Coat tester reminded me of a Jaguar XKE up front. The chrome trim
around the side windows evokes the feeling of an upscale European car. Seventeen-inch
alloy wheels add presence, and on my car, they were the optional chrome ones ($750) for
The Sebring Coupe is the best kind of personal car, small enough to feel intimate, but
spacious enough to provide room in back for adults when needed. A center shoulder belt and
three child seat anchor points make it easy to bring the whole family along. If you plan
to transport them frequently, however, the new Sebring sedan would be a wiser choice.
The new interior is lifted almost verbatim from the 2000 Eclipse. The character lines
give it a forward tilt, with a turn-of-the-century motif of rounded surfaces with
prominent edges. Behind a small-centered steering wheel lies a flat black dash, which,
along with the lower doors, contrasts dramatically with the light gray upper doors, seats
and ceiling. The instrument panel combines speedometer and tach into a center section,
with the gas and temperature gauges mounted in separate binnacles. The air vents can be
closed flat, a luxury trait. A small open bin below the dash is illuminated softly at
night. Combined with the long windshield and prominent arching pillars over narrow
windows, the effect is like a fighter pilot's cockpit, with everything within easy reach.
With the sporting Eclipse platform beneath it, it is no wonder that the new Sebring
Coupe is fun to play with. Chrysler engineers tuned the suspension with a front strut
tower brace, front and rear sway bars, and a rigid rear suspension tow link. Together with
increased body rigidity (90 percent improvement in bending and 9 percent in torsion),
these enhancements produce a stable and hunkered-down feeling. The assisted power steering
feel lets the wheel communicate without becoming mushy, and the hydraulic clutch makes
shifting the manual five-speed transmission a joy.
Those same engineers worked long hours to reduce undesirable noises and nurture good
ones. The rigid body structure and single-piece body side construction help eliminate
squeaks and rattles. The engine sounds have been refined using equal-length front exhaust
pipes and resonators on the intake and exhaust systems, and dynamic dampers were added to
the engine mounts to reduce noise during acceleration. Better body and door seals keep out
undesirable sounds, too. All the smiling driver hears is a warm, throaty hum as the speed
The two available engines are invigorated this year. The standard 2.4 liter
four-cylinder generates 142 horsepower and 155 lb.-ft of torque, up from last year's
standard 2.0-liter four. The real honey, though, is the optional
3.0-liter V6. Its 200 horsepower is 37 more than last year's 2.5-liter six, and with
the responsive five-speed manual, it turns the Sebring into something of a rocket. You can
actually feel yourself sinking back in your seat when the car accelerates. Mileage for the
four with automatic is 21 city, 27 highway, and the six, equipped with a manual, is just
behind it with 20 and 28 respectively. That's an easy choice - pick the V6 for fun.
The Sebring Coupe comes as either an LX or an LXi. For an extra $1,565, LXi buyers get
body-colored mirrors, a digital compass / temperature display, the Infinity seven-speaker
stereo with CD, four-wheel disk brakes, 17-inch wheels, and the option of adding leather
seating, a Homelink remote control system, and the manual / automatic Autostick
All Sebring Coupes have the basic luxuries standard, such as air conditioning, power
windows, power locks, power mirrors, intermittent wipers, cruise control, and a
leather-wrapped steering wheel.
My tester's paint showed some minor flaws, but otherwise I came away very impressed
that this second-generation Sebring Coupe was so responsive, fully equipped, and well
built for just $25,105. This price includes the leather interior group ($1,045), anti-lock
brakes ($565), power sunroof ($685) and upgraded sound system with four-CD changer, too.
Prices start at just $20,495 for the LX model and $22,060 for the LXi. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Chrysler Home Page
Byline: By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: "Sebring evokes a youthful attitude"
Topic: 2001 Chrysler Sebring Coupe
Word Count: 929
Photo Caption: 2001 Chrysler Sebring Coupe
Photo Credits: 2001 Chrysler Internet Media
Series #: 2001 - 1
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