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The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some 28 million Americans play golf, a figure that represents more than nine percent of the overall population. Aside from families with children, is there any other subsegment of society whose needs figure as prevalently into the product plans of carmakers? The all-new Chrysler Sebring droptop is the latest vehicle designed around the cargo-carrying desire of those who chase the little white ball. The body structure to support the Sebring’s optional fully automatic retracting steel roof (as well as the vinyl and canvas versions) was expressly engineered and designed so that, even after the roof has whirred and flipped and folded its way down under the tonneau cover, taking up a sizable portion of the cavernous 13.1-cubic foot trunk in the process, two fully loaded canvas bags can be squeezed in for the trip to the country club.
The drive there will, overall, be a pretty pleasant, if uninvigorating, experience. This latest Sebring is about two and a half times stiffer torsionally than the old car, so cowl shake is largely absent, and the car feels like a solid piece. Powertrains include a 2.4-liter four, a 2.7-liter V-6 (expected to be the volume model), and, in Limited trim, a 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic.
The top-spec powertrain offers decent acceleration and smooth shifting, but the Sebring lacks the Toyota Camry Solara’s compliant ride and the sharper handling of the Volkswagen Eos and Pontiac G6 hardtop convertibles. Chrysler engineers devoted themselves to packaging the hard top and stiffening the body, but for the mid-cycle update, maybe they could dial in some steering feel and fine-tune the chassis.
The Limited’s interior is pleasing enough, but lesser models take a big plunge downmarket in cabin trim quality. As for the Sebring’s high-waisted, awkward exterior? Maybe golfers won’t care. After all, they wear plaid pants and white shoes.