The Chrysler 300 was the first Detroit sedan in a long while to really set the country on fire. At the same time, it also introduced a new concept: Chryslers, apparently, don't have to be mediocre.
Predictably, when they're not mediocre, they sell. The 300 looks cool, is fun to drive, and in 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 form, is seriously fast. As a result, more than 300,000 have left dealer lots since 2004. And as for the new Sebring sedan? Its styling is divisive at best, it lacks the driver involvement of even a Honda Accord, and its most notable element is its radio (see sidebar). Not exactly a recipe for success.
The key ingredient of the 300's goodness is that Hemi. Unfortunately, the Sebring's top-spec engine, a relatively torquey 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, is no Hemi. It has neither the refinement of a Toyota V-6 nor the character of Honda's six. 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.
As a package, the Sebring doesn't have anything inherently wrong with it.... Read full article