A Sebring for all seasons – Metro US

A Sebring for all seasons

Only two hours by car from Los Angeles, Palm Springs has long been a favourite getaway destination for the stars.

Hollywood’s finest have had off-season and weekend retreats in this desert playground since the 1920s, drawn by the beautiful weather, the mountain views and the small town atmosphere.

What makes Palm Springs so desirable is the sunshine — the valley community averages 350 days of sun a year.

Of course, with all that sunshine, a convertible is the car of choice among residents and visitors alike and our 2009 Chrysler Sebring Convertible test car fits right in with the crowd. Almost every other car you see on the streets is a convertible and the Sebring is at or near the top of the popularity scale along with older Mercedes models and Ford Mustangs.

For anyone contemplating a convertible, our test car was equipped with a retractable hardtop, which is offered as an option. A cloth, folding top is standard. If you want a car for all seasons, this is the way to go. It has the looks and feel of a coupe for the cold weather months and it transforms into a convertible in only a matter of seconds.

Volkswagen and Volvo also offer similar retractable hardtops in the Eos and C70 models, but at a higher price than the Sebring.

The Sebring Convertible is available in three trim levels with some great prices being offered these days — the LX starts at $20,495 with a 173 hp 2.4-litre I-4 engine, the Touring at $24,295 with a 189 hp 2.7-litre V6 and the Limited at $31,695 with a 235 hp 3.5-litre V6. The first two come with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the Limited’s V6 comes with a six-speed automatic with Auto Stick.

During our trip we experienced both city and highway environments with the Sebring. With the larger of the two V6 engines under the hood, our tester had more than enough power for merging into traffic on high-speed freeways in and around Los Angeles. It would be nice to have a little more power than the 3.5-litre V6 offers, but it would come at the expense of fuel economy.

In the city, the car feels heavy and a bit awkward. Its high rear end makes backing into parking spots a bit of a chore.

With the top up, the trunk is spacious enough to hold four golf bags, although two big suitcases just fit with a bit of pushing and pulling. With the top down, trunk space is compromised with room for two golf bags. The trunk lid is extremely heavy and awkward without a handle to grab onto.

Fuel ratings for the 3.5-litre V6 automatic are 12.9L/100 km and 7.4L/100 km highway.

2009 Chrysler Sebring Convertible
Type: Two-door convertible
Price: LX $20,495; Touring $25,295; Limited $31,695
Engine: 2.4-litre four cylinder 16-valve DOHC (173 hp, 166 lb/ft); 2.7-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 (186 hp, 191 lb/ft); 3.5-litre SOHC 24-valve V6 (235 hp, 232 lb/ft)

• Attractive pricing
• Retractable hardtop ensures use all-year long