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LONG IN THE TOOTH

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Mar 10, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

OVERSHADOWED By REED BERRY Exciting, amazing, exhilarating. Unfortunately, these are not words I use to describe the Chrysler Sebring TSi. If you're looking for a car unique enough to stand out from other vehicles in its class, the Sebring Tsi falls a bit short. As I exit the North Justice Center in Fullerton after teaching an eight-hour traffic school class, I can see the Sebring in the parking lot. The bright metallic silver paint on the car's sleek exterior catches my eye as does the rear spoiler, but looking around the parking lot reminds me that most car manufacturers are now going for the sleek, sporty look. So, again, I wonder if there is anything that makes this car truly different. Maybe the answer will be on the inside. Sliding into the leather-trimmed driver's seat, I find the interior of the car to be quite comfortable, and I notice some standard features that would give any car a look and feeling of quality, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped shift knob. As for the optional power moonroof directly above me, there's no doubt I'll be opening that up on my drive from The OC into LA on a Saturday afternoon. The ride will certainly not be boring, as there is plenty inside the car to keep me occupied. The optional package in my Sebring includes a six-disc CD changer, while a GPS navigation system will prevent me from getting lost on the way home.

The CD player is a great idea, and there are steering wheel-mounted audio controls that allow you to keep your hands on the wheel. Unfortunately, I give a thumbs down to the GPS system. I'm not against GPS technology, but taking your eyes off the road even for a second or to look at a moving map on a small screen may result in a collision. I would have preferred a voice-interactive navigation system. Even more annoying than the distraction of the GPS system is the placement of the cupholders. When I drive, I want my latte within easy reach. The inconveniently positioned cupholders in this car make reaching for my beverage more work than it should be. Another driver distraction. Clearly, the console was not designed with convenience or safety in mind. My drive along Harbor Boulevard is smooth and the car is quite responsive. A 2.7-liter V6 provides plenty of power as I enter the 91 freeway and succeed in passing slower drivers learning how to use their new cell phones. I'll have to be careful though, as the 200-horsepower engine in this car makes reaching freeway speeds (and above) a little too easy. Now comes a choice...do I want to be a little lazy after working all day and let the four-speed automatic transmission do all the work, or should I get a little more involved in today's driving experience by shifting manually? Either is possible with the TSi, thanks to the Sebring's AutoStick feature. And while the designers may have gotten an F grade for the cupholder placement, I give them credit for the high degree of importance they placed on occupant protection. There are lots of safety features that make you, your family, your friends, hitchhikers and even hostages feel safe inside this vehicle: Driver and front passenger air bags, rear door child protection locks, an emergency release handle inside the trunk (I wonder if they put a cupholder in there too?) and even a three-point seatbelt for the center rear passenger. For under $400, you can add supplemental side air bags - a small price to pay for greater safety and security. So back to my original question: Is there anything about the Chrysler Sebring TSi that makes it unique? Not really. While it may not be a home run, Chrysler still provides a car with impressive performance, good looks and a seven-year powertrain warranty for under $30,000. SUMMARY JUDGMENT There are more exciting alternatives (like the V6-powered Chrysler 300, for one), but you can probably cut a pretty good deal on this Chrysler.

For more information about Chrysler products, please visit www.chrysler.com. SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 Chrysler Sebring TSi Sedan Price: $23,880 MSRP Engine type: 2.7 liter V6 DOHC 24-valve with sequential multi-point fuel injection Horsepower: 200 hp @ 5,800 rpm Torque: 190 lb-ft @ 4,850 rpm Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Transmission type: Four-speed automatic with AutoStick Steering: Rack & pinion performance steering Suspension: Front & rear independent suspension Wheels and tires: 17 x 7.0 Satin Silver Aluminum Wheels P215/50R17 BSW All-season performance tires Brakes: Anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes Overall length: 190.7 inches Overall width: 70.6" Overall height: 54.9 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 3,222 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 21/28

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