2011 Chrysler 300C
Date Posted: July 20, 2011
By Zack Spencer
Not as forceful looking as the original 300, this new version has class and value to spare
Today's trends in the auto market include hatchbacks, tall wagons, crossovers and fun little cars. One class of vehicle that really symbolizes the past in terms of shape and size is the full-sized sedan class, like this latest Chrysler 300C. It's a front engine, rear wheel or all wheel drive car, using a meaty V8 engine with dimensions that remind us of maybe the 70s. The Chrysler 300C isn't about following the trends, it is about charting a unique path that gives owners a chance to drive something big and bold. This 300C might look like a throwback to another era but the updates it received for 2011 make it a thoroughly modern version of the classic family sedan.
When the 300 was introduced in 2005 it received more awards than any other car had to date. It stopped traffic and won over buyers from the earliest stages of driving all the way to the oldest members of the motoring community. The shape is so recognizable that the designers had to keep what originally appealed to buyers but move the 300 brand forward. Mark Hall is the head designer for this latest car and his goal was to make the 2011 model less 'brutal''. The blunt nose is now softer, the lights more classy and the windscreen and side windows larger. Potential buyers of the last model would often pass over the 300 because of the lack of outward visibility, so a 15% increase in window size makes driving much easier. The rear taillights and fenders are sculpted in a way that portrays class, not clout.
Still built in Brampton, Ontario the 300C runs on a modified version of the outgoing platform. This provides ample room for passengers and the driver and is another reason that full size sedans are the choice of many when it comes time to purchase a luxury vehicle. Over the last year the Chrysler group has systematically updated the interiors of their most important products and it couldn't have come sooner. The biggest criticism, across the board, was the cheap plastic materials, which let many fine products down. Now there are soft touch materials on all the surfaces the driver or passenger feels from day to day. The standard 213mm (8.4 inch) centre screen for radio or optional navigation functions is framed by simple chrome and wood accents, along with high-end watch inspired speedometer and tachometer dials. The interior looks very good by day but fantastic at night.
What makes the 300C appealing is the 363hp Hemi engine, carried over from the last model. This engine has the brute force that will satisfy power hungry buyers and offers the smooth cruising ride that luxury buyers crave. Having driven the all-new 3.6L V6, it too is a very capable motor thanks to the reassuring 292hp. Both the V8 and V6 come with a 5-sped automatic that can be shifted on the centre consol but the V8 is the only model available with AWD (seen here). Coming sometime is 2012 will be an all-new 8-speed automatic. The AWD model sits a bit higher off the ground than the regular RWD version but this ''SUV'' height has been vastly improved compared the outgoing model. The lack of road noise and vibration is on par with full-sized luxury sedans costing much, much more. This 300C is a sophisticated luxury sedan on a relative budget.
With so many different types of vehicles available today, the full-sized sedan might not have the curb appeal that it once had but for drivers who have owned a big car like the 300C know the joy they can bring. The feeling of solitude, refinement, prestige and power are all embodied in the 2011 300C. It runs on a modified platform originally developed for the Mercedes Benz E-Class and all that goodness is still here. The modifications to the suspension and dramatic improvements to the interior make the whole experience that much better. It's not likely that the Chrysler 300C will enjoy the mass appeal it did back in 2005 but for those that like a big sedan, this $39,995 V8 sedan commands attention. Well deserved, because this is a lot of car for the money.
The Good, The Bad
The exterior, interior and ride all come together to make a fine luxury sedan.
The AWD model still sits a bit too high off the road.
Power: 5.7L V8 with 363hp
Fill-up: 13.5L/8.0L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: Over $39,995-$41,995