Chrysler's first 300 series premiered in 1955 as a high-performance hardtop coupe that held a 300-horsepower Hemi V-8. In its 1999 to 2004 iteration, the Chrysler 300M was a front-wheel-drive sedan with V-6 power.
A completely different line of 300 sedans joined Chrysler's lineup for 2005. Instead of front-drive, the new 300 had rear-wheel drive. V-6 power is standard, but the sedan can be fitted with Chrysler's Hemi V-8, and is then called the 300C. An innovative Multi-Displacement System automatically shuts down half of the Hemi's cylinders when the car is cruising easily. The system shuts off both valves for unused cylinders, which Chrysler says can yield a 10 to 20 percent improvement in fuel economy.
To counteract concerns that the rear-drive 300C wouldn't handle properly on snow and ice, Chrysler installed an Electronic Stability Program. An all-wheel-drive version was added late in 2004.
For 2006, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 7-inch screen in the center console is available.
A high-performance SRT8 edition equipped with a 425-hp Hemi V-8 went on sale in spring 2005.
(Skip to details on the: SRT8)
Flaunting a completely fresh shape, the 300C looks bold and imposing. Aluminum is used for the hood and decklid. Built on a 120-inch wheelbase, the 300C is 196.8 inches long overall. Sizable wheel openings encircle 18-inch tires that mount on chrome-clad aluminum wheels. High-intensity-discharge headlights are optional.
Instruments have a watch-face style, and 300C drivers get a steering wheel with leather accents. Trunk volume totals 15.6 cubic feet.
Standard features include a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with a memory feature, premium leather seat trim, rain-sensitive wipers, and heated mirrors with a memory feature. Two Boston Acoustics audio systems and rear parking assist are available.
Under the Hood
In the 300C, Chrysler's 340-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 produces 390 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates AutoStick for manually selected gear changes.
Antilock brakes, traction control and an Electronic Stability Program are standard on the 300C. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
If the 300 Touring sedan ranks as excellent, then the 300C warrants a superior rating. Though supremely quiet most of the time, the Hemi V-8 delivers a satisfying note when accelerating hard.
Steering and stability feel even more certain and secure in the 300C, which takes winding mountain roads confidently. Engine response is virtually immediate, and passing/merging reactions are seriously energetic. Better yet, the five-speed-automatic transmission is near-perfect.
Snow and ice performance with the Electronic Stability Program is amazing. Even if you tromp the gas on a snow-packed curve, the system kicks in immediately to keep the car on course. On the downside, you might feel the system has taken over too assertively.
Seats are reasonably supportive and invitingly comfortable, though a bit on the hard side. Long seat bottoms are pleasing, though they do tilt forward a bit. Abundant glass area helps visibility, as do the large mirrors. Backseat space is abundant, promising plenty of legroom and acceptable headroom.�
Introduced as a mid-2005 model, the SRT8 takes performance a big step further. Engineers enlarged the Hemi V-8 engine to 6.1 liters; it produces 425 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph is in the low-five-second range, according to Chrysler. The power-adjustable front sport seats are highly bolstered. Full instrumentation, a six-CD changer and power-adjustable pedals are installed. A tire-pressure monitor has been added to the 2006 model, and a Kicker audio system is available.
On the road, the SRT8 comes across as almost a brute, but a truly refined one. Few sedans are flatter in curves, but rolling over pavement expansion joints produces some loud sounds. Overall, though, you get an appealing ride with tight, precise control. The throaty exhaust seems a bit out of character for a modern-day Chrysler, but it fits right in with the SRT8's performance capabilities. Back to top