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Review: 2006 Chrysler 300

July 31, 2005 03:02 PM EST | Chrysler , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageProving that upscale sedans don't have to be stale-looking and slow, the 300 series offers distinctive styling and V8 power in a practical and affordable package.

Chiseled and masculine good looks, powerful V8 in 300C model, long list of safety features, plenty of luxury and performance for the price paid.

Sluggish acceleration with base V6, limited transmission choices, poor visibility for shorter drivers.

What's New for 2006
No significant changes for 2006

Continuing Chrysler's proud tradition of letter-series cars, the 300C is a new rear-wheel-drive sedan that reminds us of a time when V8-powered luxury cars ruled the road. Remember when suburban driveways were filled with Chryslers, Buicks and rumbling Mercurys? We do, and apparently Chrysler does as well. This time, though, the company got plenty of engineering help from Mercedes-Benz, so you can expect refined driving dynamics. With its distinct but slightly retro styling, the 300C looks the part of a luxury sedan. The non-letter 300 is essentially the same, except it has a V6 under the hood instead of the 300C's muscular V8. Two V6s are available -- a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter version and a 2.7-liter unit that makes 200 hp. Not only is the 300C powered by a good old-fashioned Hemi, but it adds modern technology to the mix as well. The V8 uses a multidisplacement system, which selectively deactivates four of the engine's cylinders to save fuel in undemanding driving situations. It's all hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. But it's not all about power, as the 300 also shoots for excellent ride and handling by utilizing a five-link independent rear suspension and a short-long arm setup in front. Equipment levels vary by trim, but the cars do come nicely outfitted for the most part, as even the base 300 includes 17-inch wheels, a power driver seat and a telescoping steering wheel. Higher-line models add stability control, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control. Major options include self-sealing tires, side curtain airbags, adjustable pedals, a navigation system and HID headlights. There's also a six-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system (available with either a 288- or 380-watt amplifier), the first factory-installed system from the venerable stereo maker. And buyers who require a fully winterproof sedan can get all-wheel drive as an option. For the price of a well-equipped Nissan Maxima, Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler is offering sedan shoppers a spacious rear-wheel-drive sedan with a long list of safety features and an undeniable hip factor. For the price of Lexus ES 330 or Acura TL, you can add a 340-hp Hemi V8 to your sedan. Who says your next family sedan has to be boring?

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The rear-drive 300 is available only as a four-door sedan, but there are four variations on that theme. The base 300 comes with 17-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, air conditioning, a power driver seat, a CD player, cruise control and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The Touring adds a bigger V6, alloy wheels, foglights, ABS, leather upholstery, chrome trim, stability control and BrakeAssist. The plushest of the V6 models, the Limited adds chrome wheels, a power front-passenger seat, heated seats, one-touch up-and-down front windows, dual-zone automatic climate control and an information center. In addition to a V8, the 300C adds dual exhaust tips, 18-inch chrome wheels, larger brakes, tortoise-shell interior accents and a 288-watt Boston Acoustics stereo with an in-dash CD changer. Options on all 300s include adjustable pedals, self-sealing tires and satellite radio. A navigation system is available on Limited and 300C models, and the C is eligible for an even more powerful 380-watt stereo and HID headlights. Snowbelt residents can order all-wheel drive.

Powertrains and Performance:
The base 300 comes with a 200-hp, 2.7-liter V6. Touring and Limited versions upgrade to a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6. The 300C scores the biggest prize, as Chrysler has stuffed a 340-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 into its engine bay. Base models come with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the Touring, Limited and 300C feature a five-speed automatic with automanual functionality.

Active safety features like ABS, traction control and stability control are optional on the base 300, but are standard on the Touring, Limited and C versions. Side curtain airbags, self-sealing tires and adjustable pedals are optional on all models. The 300C also gets rain-sensing wipers as standard fare. Chrysler's new sedan has not yet been crash tested.

Interior Design and Special Features:
The interior features a simple but elegant layout. The dash area may not be as fancy as some other cars in this segment, but its combination of sporty, semi-retro and luxury motifs is effective. Worth special note are the white-faced gauges and the slick tortoise shell trim in the 300C. Cabin dimensions are generous in all directions, and the 300 offers more rear legroom than most competitors. Trunk capacity measures 15.6 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions:
A rear-wheel-drive V8 family sedan is exactly what American automakers have needed for years to inspire renewed interest in their products. And with plenty of Mercedes-Benz technology in this one, the 300C offers a great deal more refinement than its 1960s ancestors. With their 250-hp V6, the 300 Touring and Limited models offer acceptable power and are fine choices for those seeking a feature-laden large sedan that handles as well as it rides. Saddled with a small V6, the base model feels sluggish, and we wouldn't recommend it to most buyers.

Article source: - Reprinted with permission

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