|2011 Chrysler 300|
Although the windshield is more steeply raked, the upright proportions, boxy roofline, and purposeful stance clearly recall the car that nabbed our Golden Calipers back in 2005. But now it's more refined and less cartoonish. Gone are the slab sides and sharp creases that hint at Gotham City chase scenes and staccato tommy-gun fire. Though the muscular wheel arches remain, softer lines and smoother arcs shape the hood and trunklid, while chrome-trimmed taillights serve as a dramatic flourish to this top-hat-to-spats reformulation. The LED daytime running lights are arranged in the shape of a "C" in Chrysler's honor.
The cabin receives as compelling a treatment as the Charger, including similar HVAC controls and the optional 8.4-inch infotainment screen backed by Garmin's navigation software. Additional available features include 20-inch wheels, heated and cooled seats and cupholders, and a dual-pane sunroof. The soft-touch dash and higher-quality plastics feel just as good as in the Charger, but are styled differently and trimmed with classy, handsome wood and, of course, that analog clock.
To assist the cool, refined ride, engineers found it necessary to tune the interior cabin noise -- not just for overall sound level, but for sound quality as well. The 300 is fitted with two premium-composite underbody panels that are responsible for over 8 feet of acoustic insulation and smoothing lower airflow. Being a flagship has its perks, after all.
Like its predecessor, the 2011 Chrysler 300 will be offered in rear and all-wheel drive; the latter system employs an active transfer case and seamless disconnecting front axle that Chrysler claims improves fuel economy by 5 percent. Touring and Limited models come with the corporate Pentastar V-6, which delivers 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in full-size sedan guise. Chrysler's ubiquitous HEMI 5.7-liter V-8 with Fuel Saver Technology will continue to power the 300C and should deliver 360 horsepower and 390-pound-feet of torque.
Suspension geometry was altered in the pursuit of better handling and the electro-hydraulic power steering is tweaked for the driver's touch.
Prices will range from $27,995 for a base 300 to $38,995 for a RWD 300C, with AWD versions going up to $41,145.
When it launched six years ago, the 300 was an immediate hit and went on to become one of the brand's most valuable players. While times (and parent companies) have changed in the intervening years, the importance of the 300 in the new lineup can't be overstated. Chrysler needs a grand performance from its flagship now more than ever.
|2011 Chrysler 300|