Some have criticized Chrysler's introduction of the 300M, because its engine is not rated at 300 hp, it is not rear wheel drive, and it does not clobber the competition as well as the early 300 series did. Our considered opinion: this engine is probably at least 300 hp according to gross horsepower, which was used when the original 300s were made; and it does clobber the competition, though in handling, elegance, and interior space rather than in straight-line acceleration. In short, we think it follows the 300 tradition quite well. Based on a standard body, shortened to save weight (and to fit into European parking places), and tuned for maximum performance, it is just as much a 300 as any other; it just has different proportions of handling, luxury, and performance.
riginally slotted to be second-generation Eagle Vision), the 300M was benchmarked not against GM, Ford, and Toyota, but against the BMW 5-series.
Based on the same platform as the $20,000 Intrepid and Concorde, the $30,000 300M is smaller (though you'd never know it from the interior), faster, firmer-riding, and better-handling. Though it still fails the Eurotest in some ways (no turbo option, no diesel option, no five-speed), it will certainly give automatic-transmission-and-gas-V6-equipped Eurosedans a run for their money.
Though the 300M has a standard 250 hp V6 that runs on regular gas and has both manners and teeth, in some ways it does not feel as powerful as the earlier 300 series, because it is smoother in operation. Matched up to the electronic automatic transmission, this engine is deceptively fast: it takes almost no time to reach illegal speeds, but it doesn't seem to be working very hard to do it. Under normal acceleration, shifts are practically undetectable. Likewise, the engine itself is very quiet and well-mannered except near redline - a place most drivers will rarely be, since it makes good power at low engine speeds. It is not a thrilling engine like the Jeep Cherokee's ...