Chrysler's full-size 300 sedan receives a palette of new colors for 2007, as well as redesigned wheels and two new options — adaptive cruise control and SmartBeam headlamps. An extended-length 300 Long Wheelbase debuted at the 2006 New York auto show.
Chrysler sporadically marketed automobiles under the "300" designation for half a century. In its 1999 to 2004 iteration, the Chrysler 300M was a front-wheel-drive sedan with V-6 power.
A completely different 300 sedan joined Chrysler's lineup for 2005, with rear-wheel drive. To counteract concerns that the rear-drive 300 won't handle properly on snow and ice, Chrysler offers an all-wheel-drive version of the 300 as well as an electronic stability system in upper-end models.
The 300 is offered in base, Touring and Limited trim levels for rear-wheel-drive models, and Touring and Limited for the all-wheel-drive 300. Chrysler also offers a Hemi-powered 300C, which is listed separately in the Cars.com Research section.
Dodge's Magnum wagon and Charger sedan share the 300's platform, though only the Magnum can be equipped with all-wheel drive.
The 300 Long Wheelbase is available in two editions, the 300 Touring Long Wheelbase and 300C Long Wheelbase. The latter is listed with the 300C in Cars.com's Research section.
The 300 looks bold and imposing, flaunting a distinctive shape and riding a 120-inch wheelbase. Aluminum is used for the hood and deck lid. Sizable wheel openings encircle either 17- or 18-inch tires, and chrome wheels are included on the 300 Limited and all-wheel-drive 300. SmartBeam headlights automatically dim when they sense approaching traffic, while adaptive cruise control can maintain a pace based on the speed of the vehicle in front. Both features are optional on the 300 Limited.
A discerning eye is needed to tell the difference between a regular- and long-wheelbase 300; at 202.8 inches overall, the stretched version measures just 6 inches longer. The extra length occurs just aft of the B-pillar and results in longer back doors. The result is well-proportioned and eliminates some of the snub-tail look of the regular 300. The long-wheelbase model is about 100 pounds heavier, and a wide range of paint colors is available.
Though the 300 is shorter overall than the old 300M, it's larger inside. The seating position is 2.5 inches higher, and a four-gauge instrument cluster with light silver faces and chrome trim rings has watch-face styling. Trunk volume totals 15.6 cubic feet.
In addition to chrome-clad aluminum wheels, the Limited package includes automatic headlamps and dual-zone automatic climate control with infrared sensing.
In the long-wheelbase edition, rear legroom has grown about 6 inches and measures 46 inches. Legroom in the back is vast, and right rear passengers can increase theirs with optional controls for the front passenger seat. Though special interior panels have been designed to fit the longer rear side doors, they have a low-quality appearance.
If you're a harried exec who has a driver, accessories can transform the rear of the 300 Long Wheelbase into a mobile office. Besides writing tables, options include footrests, illuminated vanity mirrors, adjustable reading lights and 12-volt power plugs for charging BlackBerrys or other mobile electronic devices.
Under the Hood
A 2.7-liter V-6 produces 190 horsepower in the base sedan; it teams with a four-speed automatic transmission. Other models get a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic. Both the 300 Long Wheelbase and all-wheel-drive 300 come equipped with the latter setup.
Antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are included on all but the base sedan. Front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are optional.
From the first moments behind the wheel, the 300 feels especially solid and substantial. The 3.5-liter V-6 delivers adequate power for mountainous terrain, but no true surplus. Except for a slight snarl when pushing hard while climbing, the V-6 is very quiet. Performance is almost as appealing with the 2.7-liter V-6, which is a little noisier.
The 300 steers easily and demands just enough effort to impart a semi-sporty sensation. You can expect a confident feel through winding roads.
Performance in snow and ice is amazing because of the Electronic Stability Program. Even if you tromp the gas on a snow-packed curve, the system kicks in immediately — albeit assertively — to keep the car on course.
The seats are reasonably supportive and comfortable, but a bit hard. Abundant glass area and large mirrors help visibility. Backseat space is abundant.
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