Chrysler 300 is First Produced
The Chrysler 300 is a full-size sport/luxury sedan which was first shown at the 2003 New York Auto Show as a concept car and first introduced in the spring of 2004 as an early 2005 model, becoming North America's first mainstream rear-wheel drive sedan with a V6 engine since the 1995 Mazda 929.
Designed by Ralph Gilles, the new 300 was built as a high performance, sporty sedan. The 300C is also sold in Australia, the first large Chrysler sold there since the Valiant was discontinued in 1981.
The Chrysler 300 is based on the rear-wheel drive Chrysler LX platform which features components derived from the discontinued W210 Mercedes-Benz E-Class of 1996 to 2002. Such components include the suspension design, front seat frames, wiring harnesses, steering column, the 5-speed automatic's design, and a derivative of the 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
The basic 300 (or 300C in some countries) comes with standard 17-inch wheels with wheel covers, four-wheel disc brakes, single disc mp3 player, auxiliary input jack, power driver seat and a four-speed automatic transmission. It uses a 2,736 cc (2.736 L; 167.0 cu in) EER V6 making 190 hp (142 kW). In Canada, it comes standard with the Touring model's 3,518 cc (3.5 L; 214.7 cu in) V6 engine. The basic 300 model was renamed to LX for 2008.
The Touring model uses a 3,518 cc (3.5 L; 214.7 cu in) V6, producing 250 hp (186 kW) and 250 ft·lbf (339 N·m) of torque. It also has a 4-speed automatic transmission, but comes with 17-inch aluminum wheels, AM/FM radio with CD player and auxiliary audio jack, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), remote keyless entry, leather trimmed seats, and SIRIUS satellite radio.
The Limited model uses the Touring model's 3.5 L V6 engine, which generates 250 hp (190 kW) and 250 ft·lbf (340 N·m) mated to a high performance 5-speed Mercedes W5A580 automatic transmission, with Autostick. Additional features include 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels and Chrysler's Dual-Zone Climate Control.
The top-line 300C version uses a 5.7 L (345 cu in) Hemi V8. This engine can run on four cylinders when less power is needed to reduce fuel consumption. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has rated the 300C as getting 15 miles per US gallon (16 L/100 km; 18 mpg-imp) city, 23 miles per US gallon (10 L/100 km; 28 mpg-imp) highway. When all 8 cylinders are needed, the 300C can make 340 hp (250 kW) and 390 ft·lbf (530 N·m) torque. It uses a 5-speed automatic transmission and comes standard with 18 inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, Chrysler's "MyGIG" Infotainment System in 2008 and SIRIUS Satellite Radio and "Backseat Television"in 2008. The Chrysler 300C is unique because of the HEMI engine. This is the only HEMI that has a pushrod induction tube, located on the side of the engine. This tube is a way to make the 300C more fuel efficient and quicker, because of the air being "pulled and pushed" into the engine's induction area.
The Heritage Edition of the 300C features the 5.7 L engine along with many of the SRT-8's exterior modification, added chrome accents, special badging, and special tires on 18 inch wheels. It is the first Chrysler vehicle with SmartBeam headlights. It also includes SRT front seats with the Heritage 300C symbols stitched into their headrests. The Heritage Edition debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006.
SRT Design Group
In 2007 a special options package for non-SRT 300C's became available. The SRT Design group included badging, performance suspension, SRT 20-inch forged, polished aluminium wheels, SRT front seats, SRT body modifications (minus front lip spoiler) high speed engine controller with revised tuning for 5.7 L HEMI, raising horsepower to 350 HP, high flow air cleaner system and performance exhaust. (Similar to Charger R/T's Road and Track Performance Group) Other options were included but are year dependent.
Chrysler introduced the SRT-8 version of the car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2004. It includes a new 370-cubic-inch, 6.1 L Hemi V8 which produces 425 hp (317 kW), Preliminary performance targets for the 300C SRT8 are 0-60 mph in the low 5-second range and quarter-mile time in the high 13-second range. However, it has been proven many times by owners that stock versions of the SRT8's have performance figures that are: 0-62 mph (0–100 km/h) in 4.9 seconds with a 1/4 mile time of under 13 seconds. It went on sale in February 2005 and has a sticker price of US$43,695 as of 2006 plus applicable taxes. Additional features include leather SRT-8 performance-embossed seats and 20-inch forged, polished aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes, and rear lip spoiler.
The 2007–2008 SRT-8 models have a rear spoiler moulded into the body, which is also standard throughout the entire 300 line-up. The earlier models, 2005–2006, did not have the lower air dam like the 2007 models. This increases cooling to the engine by as much as 30%.
There's currently no category within the Edmunds.com Most Wanted awards for "best returning-to-glory car." But if there were, the Chrysler 300 would certainly be a strong candidate to win. A proud and prestigious vehicle during the 1950s, the 300 fell into anonymity during the '60s and then pretty much disappeared from the automotive landscape for more than 30 years. Only with the current model has Chrysler revived the accolades and respect that once surrounded this proud nameplate.
Thanks to its distinctive styling, roomy interior and powerful performance capabilities, the latest Chrysler 300 has become a popular choice in the large sedan segment. The 300C trim level, in particular, is an impressive vehicle thanks to its powerful 5.7-liter V8 engine. It's bracketed by two affordable V6-equipped models on one end and the high-performance 300C SRT8 on the other. According to our editors, nearly all 300 models should serve consumers well.
Current Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 is a large five-passenger sedan with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It's been designed to appeal to consumers desiring something with a bit more personality than a regular family sedan or an alternative to popular Japanese or European entry-luxury sedans. Some of the 300's underlying mechanicals are derived from Mercedes-Benz technology, and it's a platform sibling to the Dodge Charger.
The 300's styling is unmistakably American. The large chrome grille, double-lens headlights, high beltline, bulging fenders and big wheels give it a strong presence on the road. A long 120-inch wheelbase shortens up the front and rear overhangs and opens up plenty of occupant space on the inside. Cabin dimensions are generous in all directions, and the 300 offers more legroom than most of its competitors. Its overall interior design has been described as simple but elegant. The dash area effectively combines sporty, semi-retro and luxury motifs.
The Chrysler 300 comes in LX, Touring, Limited, "C" (labeled the 300C) and SRT8 trim levels. Though budget-oriented consumers might be attracted to the LX model's low price, we suggest stepping up to either the Touring or the Limited, as these trim levels come with the type of standard features expected for this class of car. The 300C and SRT8 versions are the performance-oriented models. The main difference between the two is that the SRT8 version has been tuned and equipped for maximum performance, though the 300C Heritage package narrows the handling gap by equipping the 300C with a sport-tuned suspension and steering. For rear-drive Touring and 300C models, Chrysler also offers the W.P. Chrysler Executive Series. This model rides on a 6-inch-longer wheelbase and provides additional legroom for rear-seat passengers.
For power, the base 300 relies on a weak 178-horsepower 2.7-liter V6 connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. Touring and Limited trims have a 3.5-liter, 250-hp V6 and a five-speed automatic. The top-shelf 300C and 300C SRT8 feature V8 engines with five-speed automatics. The 300C's V8 makes 359 hp, and the SRT8's boasts 425 hp. The SRT8 also features a stiffer suspension setup, more powerful brakes and a larger wheel-and-tire package. Most 300s are rear-drive, but Chrysler offers all-wheel-drive versions of the Touring, Limited and 300C.
In Edmunds.com reviews of the Chrysler 300, the car has fared quite well. Our editors have commented favorably on its masculine good looks, powerful V8 engines, long list of safety features and value for the dollar. Negatives are few but focus on the meager output of the base model's V6 and the car's poor outward visibility. Those desiring maximum fun will no doubt be pleased with the 300C SRT8, which can hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.7 seconds.
Used Chrysler 300 Models
The current-generation Chrysler 300 debuted for the 2005 model year. Prior to 2009, the 300C's 5.7-liter V8 made 340 hp, but the powertrains have otherwise gone unchanged. Models built for 2007 received a few extra features as compared to earlier years, and this was also the first year for the W.P. Chrysler Executive Series. The 2008 model was updated with some additional features and freshened exterior styling, and the 2009 Chrysler 300 received significant updates, including power-boosting variable valve timing for the 300C's 5.7-liter V8 and an innovative new active transfer case for all-wheel drive for better fuel efficiency and performance. This year also saw the debut of a comfort-tuned suspension on Limited and 300C models for those seeking a softer ride, an optional Chrysler 300C Heritage package offering the same sport-tuned steering and suspension as the Dodge Charger R/T Daytona, and a revised SRT8 with a new grille, revised suspension tuning and additional standard equipment.
Like fossil records, the Chrysler 300 has a long but patchy history. It came into being in the mid-1950s as a way to showcase Chrysler's new "Hemi" V8 engine. The first 300 was introduced for 1955 and was based on the New Yorker two-door hardtop. Its 5.4-liter V8 developed 300 hp. After that, Chrysler began affixing sequential letters at the end of "300" for each year as well as offering different body styles, including a convertible. The 1957 300-C is typically considered the most beautiful and desirable of these early cars. The Hemi engines were discontinued in the 300 after 1958, but Chrysler continued to use the letter designations up until the '65 300-L. After that it was the plain 300. In total, there were seven generations of this car before it was dropped after the 1971 model year.
The 300 name was briefly resurrected in 1979 for a special version of the rather awful Cordoba. It would then take another 20 years before Chrysler decided to roll out the 300 moniker again. This was the 1999 300M. Unlike previous 300s, this was a front-drive sedan only. Based on the second generation of Chrysler's "cab forward" LH platform, the 300M used a 3.5-liter V6, making 253 hp (that's net horsepower, a far more conservative standard than the "gross" rating used prior to 1972) and mounted longitudinally in the engine bay. It was built through the 2004 model year.
Buzzwords like “breakthrough”, “paradigm” and “integration” are management Viagra. They give ignorant execs and clueless PR folk the power to appear talented. But no word sets the flack-talker’s soul afire like “synergy.” And no other word was deployed more often to justify the merger of Daimler-Benz with Chrysler. But what happens when you synergize top-dollar Mercedes underpinnings with Chrysler engineering and sell it for the price of a Camry? I’ll give you 300 guesses.
Judging by its looks, the Chrysler 300 is still a winner. The chopped roof, crisp overhangs, Audi TT-esque fender flares and jeweler’s grade front fascia are still the stuff of urban legend. The SUV-like stance (generated by a sky-high beltline) and K-car influenced rear deck further distinguish the big Chrysler from the Boyz in the bland. Personally, I find this flying brick (with a drag coefficient to match) a far cry from Bentley sedans and vintage 300’s. Put another way, who stole a Checker Marathon and ran it through a wind tunnel?
Too bad that chunky profile only looks solid. Rest your butt on the front end, lean back and give your best “mean mug” for the camera and the front clip flexes and twists in disapproval. Ditto the back bumper: rest a box before loading the trunk and the 300’s posterior sags like the rack of a middle-aged supermodel.
The Chrysler 300’s interior continues the cheap and not-so-cheerful theme. Aside from tight panel gaps and soft polymers above the dashboard equator, the cabin is awash in the kind of flash cast plastics “enjoyed” by owners of Hyundai’s Excel. The 300’s cabin serves-up a farrago of bargain basement materials: from hard, nasty armrests to a vinyl-wrapped steering wheel. The 300’s thrones were designed by the folks at Slip n’ Slide, complete with leather inserts that are virtually indistinguishable from their vinyl surroundings. The optional Boston Acoustics’ boombox is as clear as it is loud– provided you remain in front.
Hop in the back and the sound quality flies out the window, right after the delightful gong resonance made by closing the rear portals. The 300’s backseat is best reserved for short trips with short people; everyone else leaves the 300’s lean rear cushions tired and stressed after a lengthy interstate odyssey. The trunk’s shallow, oddly-shaped cargo hole and the overly aggressive assist-struts on a zero-leverage deck lid do nothing to help the family car basics. There’s but one shining [three pointed] star in the 300’s cabin: a cruise control stalk with all the precise, perfectly weighted feel of a Mercedes’ part– donated to an otherwise lost cause.
Throw the 300 into some switchbacks and you can tell where the car’s manufacturer spent their money. The 300’s independent (front) and five-link (rear) suspension is a distant cousin to the old E-class. Tweaked by the Dark Lords of DCX and bolted onto to a stiff chassis, the greasy bits provide plenty of poise for one so portly (3800 pounds). Boot the package in a corner and 250lb-ft of torque sends the 300’s rear tires dancing in delight– moments before the ESP flashes a warning that this isn’t an E63 AMG and you aren’t Michael Schumacher (or Jay Shoemaker).
Even with the handling Nanny in attendance, the 300 is a wonderful mix of raucous handling and reassuring ride. The 300’s Chris-Craftian tiller has way too much rim for spirited maneuvers, but the power-assisted rack and pinion steering provides reasonable feel for a passenger sedan aimed squarely at the over-40 set. With 55-series tires on hand (ironically enough), the Chrysler’s ride is 401K-compliant, splitting the distance between BMW’s teeth chattering firmness and the roll and pitch of a Toyota Camry.
Even without the hemispherical hot tamale under the bonnet, the 300's no slouch. The sedan’s 3.5-liter high-output SOHC V6 may not stand a chance against the latest hi-po six-pots, but 250hp hooked-up to a reasonably responsive five-speed autobox ensures that the 300 gets out of its own way without unnecessary delay, thirst (19/27) or embarrassment. (Which is more than you can say for the base by name base by nature 2.7-liter V6.)
Taken as a whole, the 300 is proto-synergy. When first mooted, the Daimler Chrysler combo was touted as a ”merger of equals,” blending German engineering with American style. Instead of blowing away the competition with anal retentive engineering and unassailable build quality, the Chrysler 300 is a half-baked half-breed: a car with excellent bones, a flash exterior, a dreadful interior and dubious build quality.
Props to the 300 for reinvigorating American car design, finding tremendous popularity and more than paying its way. But it’s time for DCX to update this bad boy or build something that fulfills the merger’s original premise. Otherwise, the 300 is destined to become a textbook case of a synergistic failure to turn hype into reality.