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Chrysler 300

 

 

CHRYSLER’S 2011 300

The Most Affordable Full Sized RWD Sedan in the Marketplace


By Linda Sharp

The 2011 Chrysler 300 is a glowing example that Chrysler is serious about being a player in the US auto industry. Totally redesigned, the 2011 300 raises the bar on all counts for their flagship sedan.

For those who have been drawn to the previous 300 because of its resemblance to some “pricey” European luxury sedans, the new look will tug at your emotions even more strongly. The 300 has replaced the mesh grill with a seven slat design that evokes yet another luxury brand. But for those who long for the mesh design, Chrysler says it will be available through their MOPAR aftermarket division.

Another styling cue that draws to mind another high-end luxury player is the 300’s headlight assembly, which are C-shaped LED daytime running lights. You know the look; they sort of resemble holiday lighting. If you want more, Xenon lights are available as an option.

All in all, the new 300 presents a much more upscale image than its predecessor. And with just a bit of aftermarket chicanery could easily stand out in any private clue or valet parking lot.

Customers will have a choice of the V-6 powered 300 and 300 limited, as well as a V-8 300C. All wheel drive is optional on the 300C. Our test vehicle was the 300 limited and we saw nothing lacking in the 300’s performance. It was backed up by good fuel economy for a full sized sedan.

The interior is a refreshing breath of fresh air for a Chrysler product. Hard surface have been replaced with a softer more tactile to the touch materials. The interior is really spacious, with basically flat rear floor wells, which generously accommodate rear seat passengers. All four doors open exceptionally widely, so ingress and egress is exemplary. Cabin materials are good, with padding all the way down to knee level and richer finishes than Chrysler has been known for. The automaker's new 8.4-inch UConnect touch-screen is a worthy centerpiece. Standard on all 300s, it boasts a fast-paced interface with excellent graphics and minimal lag between menus. It’s obvious, that Chrysler’s goal was to raise the bar both externally and internally. We think they have hit their mark.

Chrysler has stepped up in the area of safety as well, with over half the new 300's structure being made up of higher-strength steel than before The improvements are well documented with the 300 garnering top scores in front, side and rear impact crash tests, as well as a top roof-strength score, the car is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard features include a full complement of front and side airbags, active head restraints, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. On the 300 Limited and 300C, an optional safety package includes adaptive headlights that swivel a few degrees in the direction of a turn, a blind spot warning system, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning.

Our test vehicle was fitted with the new Pentastar V-6 engine. We found it to be quick and nimble. Currently it is available with a carry over five speed automatic. Chrysler’s all new eight speed automatic is slated to be available by year’s end and really should make the V-6 an outstanding package. The 8-speed should also improve fuel economy a bit. The EPA rates the current configuration at 21 mpg in combined driving. We bettered that a bit, ringing in at 24 plus mpg’s in combined driving. Overall mileage drops to 19 mpg with the Hemi, or 18 mpg if you opt for the optional all-wheel drive.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, with larger discs and twin-piston calipers up front on the 300C. With either drivetrain, the pedal exhibits smooth, linear response and strong stopping power.

Historically, we have thought of Chrysler products as having excessive road noise. That is certainly not the case with the new 300. Road noise is gone, wind noise is non-existent. We’d say Chrysler has done well in the NVH department.

Notable standard features on the $27,170 300 include an eight-way power driver's seat with four-way power lumbar, keyless access with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, the touch-screen center display and a USB/iPod-compatible stereo.

There remains, and probably always will, a segment of the market that truly wants full sized rear wheel drive four door sedan. Those vehicles at an affordable price get more scarce by the day. The 2011 Chrysler 300 may have found its perfect niche by offering just such a package now with an even more eye-appealing exterior and an uptown interior. With an entry price of just over $27,000, it is also a cost competitive competitor to the FWD segment competition.


STATS:

Horsepower: 292 hp

MSRP from $27,170

Mileage: 18 city/ 27 hwy

Seating capacity: five

Recommended fuel: regular


STANDARD FEATURES ON BASE MODEL

* 3.6L V6 flex-fuel or flex-fuel engine

* Automatic transmission

* Up to 18 cty/27 hwy mpg

* MP3 Player

* Satellite radio

* Side/Curtain Airbags

* Stability control

* Traction control

* Bluetooth (Optional)

* iPod input (Optional)


All photos by author.

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Chrysler 300

 

 

Chrysler 300

 

Chrysler 300
Chrysler 300