Review: 2006 Chrysler Sebring

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Until this year, Chrysler offered three midsize cars bearing the Sebring name, much as Toyota offers a Camry trio--sedan, coupe, and convertible. Based on a different platform than the sedan and convertible, the coupe has been retired, reflecting the shift in the market away from two-door vehicles, among other manufacturing factors. The remaining Sebrings make incremental improvements for this year, with the standout news being the addition of a performance-oriented TSi sedan.

For 2006, the sedan comes in base, Touring, TSi, and upscale Limited forms. There are no fewer than four convertibles: base, GTC, Touring, and Limited. Four-cylinder and V-6 engines are on the menu for both body configurations.

In a conservative class, the gracefully aging Sebring sedan still looks classy, despite tracing its origins to the 1990s. In contrast, the convertible looks plainer, lacking the distinctive curved roof, dramatic rear pillar, and bold wheel arches.

Various Sebring trims are distinguished externally mainly by their wheels. All Sebring sedans except the TSi have 16-inch aluminum wheels; the top-of-the-line Limited has chrome-finished versions, while the TSi gets 17s. Strangely, the base convertible has only 15-inch wheels and tires. GTC, Touring, and Limited models have 16s, with the Limited sporting chrome embellishment. The TSi is the most visually interesting model, with a complete ground-effects package, decklid spoiler, three-inch exhaust tip, and special badging.

The Sebring interior looks attractive, but lacks the high-quality fits and materials of the best Japanese and Korean (yes, you read that right) cars. Both body types are reasonably roomy, with the convertible being one of just a handful of affordable four-place ragtops on the market and perhaps the most spacious of the bunch.

Base Sebring sedans and convertibles are reasonably well equipped, with air conditioning, power windows, and cruise control as standard. Things become confusing when progressing through the trim levels. The Touring version of the sedan has a satin silver instrument panel and electronic cruise control, but you need to move to the Limited or TSi models to get a full share of luxury features such as leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and an eight-way power driver's seat.

The GTC convertible has a sportier interior than the base car, with bucket seats and a sport steering wheel. Touring has leather seats, a power driver's seat, leather shift knob, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Limited is mildly uprated, with fancier leather and an Infinity speaker system for the stereo. As with the sedan, real California wood inserts, heated seats, and navigation can turn the car into a relatively luxurious piece.

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