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2011 Chrysler 300: Up Close

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Repeating sentiments from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” — at least the bit at the beginning that doesn’t need radio edits — Chrysler Brand CEO Olivier Francois called the redesigned 300 flagship the product of “how people react when their backs are in a corner.”

More details and photos of the 2011 Chrysler 300

If Chrysler’s in a corner, it came out swinging, despite the entire speech being delivered in a heavy French accent.

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The 300 is an enviable car, particularly from the outside. Its cabin doesn’t leapfrog the segment – the Hyundai Genesis still wins that battle – but its styling should draw looks. This doesn’t have the novelty of the Bentley-like 2005 300, but it’s a worthy follow-up.

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Even the base trim has chrome ornamentation along the side and jewelry-like LED daytime running lamps. Absent the fog lights that go on up-level models, the lower bumper sports chrome strakes across its outboard openings. It’s a well-executed design, leaving no curious empty spots where fog lights should have gone.

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Chief designer Ralph Gilles said the 300’s outward visibility has been increased, with larger windows and a windshield that extends farther back. That may be the case, but the windows still feel short from the inside, which won’t suit backseat claustrophobes. The cabin is roomy otherwise, but taller drivers may wish the driver’s seat adjusted back farther. I found sufficient room for a comfortable driving position, but I’m 5-foot-11 and had the seat all the way back.

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Materials are good, with padding where your knees and elbows land. I checked out a number of trims, and the 300’s cloth upholstery feels high quality but short on padding. The optional leather, on the other hand, is plush and well-padded, but I wish Chrysler would offer the leather-wrapped dashboard from the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland. None of the trims on hand, including a loaded 300C, had anything of the like.

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An 8.4-inch center screen with Chrysler’s Uconnect Touch display is standard. Uconnect has the sort of processing that allows you to charge through submenus and pull up radio stations with little appreciable lag. Ford, take note.

Blue Oval folks might retort, with good reason, that the 300 has a couple important bridges to span: safety and dependability. The outgoing car had lackluster side-impact scores even with standard curtain airbags, and reliability on certain variants was spotty. Here’s hoping for improvements in both areas.

353560301 1425510926639 jpeg automatic-content-migration Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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