CHRYSLER Sebring JXi Convertible

LOOKS . Fantastic
HANDLING . Uncle Wiggly
AMBIANCE . Real Nice
COMFORT . Thoughtful
QUALITY . Questionable
STEREO . Hokay
FUN TO DRIVE . Casually
HEADS TURNED . Caballeros
EMOTION . Flirtatious
CACHET . Short Fling


Sticker . $25,560
Power . 164 horsepower
0 to 60 . 9 to 10 sec.
Test Mileage . 18.5 mpg
Seating . 4
Trunk . 11.0 cubic feet
Parking . Oo La La


Looks aren't everything. Too Bad for the JXi. Chrysler designers have penned a charming shape and a savvy design for this new entry in the boulevardier sweepstakes. The cab-forward Sebring convertible offers a well thought out open roadster with room for 4. Perhaps, given the physical attraction, I expected too much; but on the road I was disappointed.

Good stuff first. The look is a visceral knockout, curvaceous and pug-nosed; a tough girl ready to rock. Slip inside to a pretty classy interior, a tone on tone door treatment, clean lines and plush seats that left you floating on a sea of gray leather and featured integral seatbelts to eliminate the struggle to plant oneself in the back seat. A comfortable and spacious back seat at that, with a high eye point providing a good open feeling. Four can frolic without contortions. Useful storage, an artful dash, intuitive control placement. So, the looks parts are all A1.

Spin time. To accentuate the positive the JXi has an incredibly light feel and is nimble, if not accurate in casual driving. Pushed any further it gets as loose as a goose. An undersized motor and an overcompensating automatic make it go forward with a disconnected feel that is most upsetting. It's hard to know if the gas peal is hooked to the motor or what. The noisy engine sounds overworked and under civilized. Gas mileage was poor. The steering has absolutely no feel. The commendably stiff chassis is cursed with a miserable suspension that picks up every bump, yet seems disconnected from the road. The tail swings wide in quick maneuvers and progress down the interstate is far too nautical for my tastes.

This flash dude mobile looks like 1999 and drives like 1959. For some that may be enough. It does offer fashion and convertible flair for a very reasonable ticket, but serious drivers need not apply any suntan lotion.