Chrysler’s 300M sport sedan became the first model to offer a factory-installed Sirius Satellite Radio in the 2003 model year. For 2004, a new BeltAlert system activates a chime and warning light that reminds the driver to buckle up.
The 300M is a sporty spin-off of the company’s Concorde and is also related to the lower-priced Dodge Intrepid. The 300M is 10 inches shorter than the full-size, front-wheel-drive Concorde sedan due in part to its stubby rear end. Introduced for the 1999 model year, the 300M has been the only Chrysler model exported to other countries.
A 300M Special sedan joined the regular 300M in mid-2002; it is equipped with a V-6 engine that develops an additional 5 horsepower over the base version. The 300M Special is equipped with a performance braking system; a stiffer, performance-tuned suspension; and a firm-feel steering gear. It may also have 18-inch tires rather than the standard 17-inchers. In addition to xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, the 300M Special gets ground-effects skirting for a sportier appearance, and it sits an inch lower than other 300M sedans.
Even though the four-door 300M shares some of its styling touches with the Concorde, it features a short, stubby rear deck that has sharper creases instead of rounded lines. Measuring just under 198 inches long overall, the 300M has the same 113-inch wheelbase as its Concorde and Intrepid siblings.
Five people enjoy abundant amenities including leather upholstery and heated eight-way power front bucket seats. The 300M’s rear seat has adequate space for taller passengers, but the Concorde offers more legroom. Standard equipment includes a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and a memory system for the driver’s seat, mirrors and radio.
A split, rear seatback folds down to augment the 16.8-cubic-foot trunk, but it lacks a pass-thru provision. The 300M Special gets a nine-speaker Infiniti II spatial imaging sound system with a cassette player and an in-dash six-CD changer.
Under the Hood
Chrysler’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine develops 250 hp in the base 300M, while the 300M Special uses the same basic power plant but earns an additional 5 hp. The four-speed-automatic transmission incorporates an AutoStick feature that allows manually selected gear changes simply by tipping the lever to the left or right.
Three-point shoulder belts, antilock brakes and low-speed traction control are standard. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional.
Despite the 300M being closely related to the Concorde, it yields a different sort of driving experience — in keeping with its sporty and stylish profile. The strong V-6 engine delivers truly energetic performance, and Chrysler’s AutoStick does a good job of simulating manual shifts. The transmission shifts smoothly and easily in automatic mode.
From a standstill, the 300M virtually leaps ahead as the gas pedal approaches the floor. It responds eagerly during passing and merging, which inspires confidence. Because the 300M has thick roof pillars and a rather plump profile, over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t the best; the sedan can also be tricky to park. The nautical-style gauges look exquisite.
The 300M’s handling ranks a cut above the full-size norm. It’s even more athletic with the Special trim level or the optional Performance Handling group, but a penalty must be paid in ride stiffness.