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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Cars.com Staff
September 1, 2006
Vehicle Overview Changes to Chrysler's V-8-powered 300C are minor for 2007. They include a variety of new colors, redesigned 18-inch chrome wheels, optional adaptive cruise control and standard SmartBeam headlamps. An extended-length 300C Long Wheelbase debuted at the 2006 New York auto show.
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. Six-cylinder 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 valves and fuel injectors for unused cylinders, which Chrysler says can yield a 10 to 20 percent improvement in gas mileage.
To counteract concerns that the rear-drive 300C wouldn't handle properly on snow and ice, Chrysler installed an electronic stability system. An all-wheel-drive version is also available. The Dodge Charger sedan and Magnum wagon are closely related to the Chrysler 300; both offer optional Hemi V-8s.
Buyers looking for an extended-length 300 can choose the V-8-powered 300C Long Wheelbase or V-6-powered 300 Touring Long Wheelbase; the latter car is listed alongside the 300 in a separate entry in Cars.com's Research section.
A high-performance SRT8 edition comes equipped with a 425-hp Hemi V-8; it's offered only in rear-wheel-drive, regular-length form. (Skip to details on the: SRT8)
Exterior Flaunting a completely fresh shape, the 300C looks bold and imposing. Aluminum is used for the hood and deck lid. 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.
Standard SmartBeam headlamps automatically dim if they sense approaching traffic, and high-intensity-discharge headlights are optional. An optional adaptive cruise control system regulates speed based on the distance to the vehicle in front.
A discerning eye is needed to tell the difference between a regular- and long-wheelbase 300C; 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 300C. The long-wheelbase model is about 100 pounds heavier, and a wide range of paint colors is available.
Interior 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-sensing wipers, and heated mirrors with a memory feature. Two Boston Acoustics audio systems and rear parking assist are available.
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 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 300C 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 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.
Safety Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard on the 300C. Front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are optional.
Driving Impressions 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 system 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.
SRT8 Now in its third year of production, 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 monitoring system is standard, 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
Expert Reviews 1 of 3
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