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2001 Chrysler Sebring Preview

Some years ago, Chrysler attempted to confuse owners and mechanics alike by having three cars with the LeBaron badge. Now, the Chrysler boys are at it again, with no less than three Chrysler Sebrings:

  1. Sebring Coupe - Mitsubishi Eclipse platform
  2. Sebring Sedan - formerly Chrysler Cirrus
  3. Sebring Convertible - based on the Cirrus, but formerly sold outside the US as the Stratus Convertible.

The Sebring Coupe remains based on the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Galant platform, and is powered either by a 200 hp version of the venerable Mitsubishi 3.0 V6, or by the Chrysler 2.4 liter, 147 hp four-cylinder. A five-speed transmission can get the most out of either engine, making the Sebring very quick - for the first time since the badge was used on Plymouths in the 1970s.

The new coupe gains from Mitsubishi's redesign of the platform. In addition to more power, handling should be improved; the new body is 90% stiffer in bending and 9% stiffer in torsion than the 2000 model. The former base model has been eliminated, so more options are standard. Side airbags will be optional.

The emphasis on redesigning the sedan and convertible was similar: to increase body stiffness and decrease noise, while raising power. While the coupe is a complete redesign, the sedan and convertible are more like renovations of the existing models. Lest that seem relatively minor, compare the original and the new Neons.

Engine options for the sedan and convertible are similar to those of the coupe, except that they use a 2.7 liter V6 designed by Chrysler (which also produces 200 hp) as an option instead of the Mitsubishi V6. Unfortunately, the V6-five speed combination is not available on the America-designed sedan or convertible.

All Sebrings will have a new antilock braking system, from Teves, which includes a yaw control system. The innovative design uses existing sensors rather than an expensive yaw sensor.

The Sebring sedan is considerably larger inside than most competitive vehicles. Indeed, the interior dwarfs that of, say, the Nissan Altima/Infiniti G20. The focus for the redesign was increasing reliability, usable interior space, ride quality, and handling, while cutting noise levels.

The last incarnation of the series was generally reliable, without major mechanical failures. We expect that, with Chrysler's new focus on perceived and actual quality, the new model will be both a pleasure to drive and own.

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