Rear-wheel-drive allowed Chrysler to alter the
overall profile of the vehicle for luxury and performance proportions. Most notable are a
longer hood and front fenders, short front overhang, improved ride & handling and an
impressive stance that comes with the tires pushed to the corners.
I drove a Chrysler 300 Touring with a 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-valve, 250
hp V6 engine for a week. I also drove a 300 C with the 5.7-liter Hemi, OHV, 340 hp V8 at
Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. The Chrysler Group has developed, and will be the first to
offer, Multi-Displacement System (MDS) on a modern, large volume vehicle in North America.
MDS seamlessly alternates between smooth, high fuel economy four-cylinder mode when less
power is needed, and V-8 mode when more power from the 5.7-liter HEMI engine is in demand.
The 300 Touring is a very nice car. The 3.5-liter V6 (there is a
base 2.7-liter V6 as well) is a competent engine. The two V6s are coupled with a
four-speed automatic transmission, while the Hemi transmits its power through a five-speed
automatic. Both the V6s are Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles. All-Wheel-Drive is available on
the 300 Touring and 300 Limited with the 3.5-liter high-output engine, as well as the
5.7-liter HEMI powered Chrysler 300C but with the standard traction control I really can't
see why anyone would need the extra weight of AWD. Electronic Stability Program (ESP),
All-Speed Traction Control, advanced anti-lock brake systems and tire technologies have
reached new levels of performance.
Make no mistake, the 300 is a large car. It is 196.8 inches long,
74.1 inches wide and weighs between 3721 and 4046 lbs depending on engine and equipment.
It felt much lighter driving it (which is pretty amazing).
Styling is controversial and controversial works - it means no one
will mistake the 300 for anything else. Controversial is better than bland - ask GM about
bland and the new GTO, the car no one sees. I think it looks kind of like the Green
Hornet's car, Black Beauty. Others likened it to a gangsta car. It's square, squat, and
just a bit menacing. All it needs is suicide doors to complete the picture.
Even the base 300 is equipped nicely. It has all the features you
would expect for a car that is intended for the import buyer. Early sales figures show
that it is succeeding in conquest sales. A very high number of buyers traded in an Audi,
BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes-Benz. That must have confused a few Chrysler dealers.
The test car, a 300 Touring, was very well equipped. The interior
was a nice compromise of over-the-top American and understated European. All in all a very
There were few options and I wouldn't turn down any of them. There
was a Protection Group that included side curtain air bags, cabin air filtering system,
and self-sealing, P215/65R17 all season tires. Throw in a killer sound system including
satellite digital radio, and power adjustable pedals and youve got a complete
The 300 base price starts at $23,595 and goes up to $32,995 without
options. The test car listed for $30,330. The base engine is rated a 21-mpg city and
28-mpg highway; the 3.5 at 19/27; and the Hemi at 17/25. I say go with the Hemi, there's a
rumor that the CHP will.