2003 Chrysler 300M

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Change year or car

$32,315

starting MSRP

2003 Chrysler 300M

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2003 Chrysler 300M trim comparison will help you decide.

2003 Chrysler 300M review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

When Chrysler unveiled its 300C Concept in April, it was a thinly disguised version of the Hemi V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive muscle car that arrives in dealerships sometime next year.

With that, Chrysler looks deep into its past to define its future.

My, how the future has changed. Ten years ago, a reborn Chrysler was touting a new generation of innovative front-drive “cab-forward” sedans that were ballyhooed as the next big thing. For Chrysler, it was a big thing, helping to pull the beleaguered company out of the red.

Now, such things are fading, with rear-wheel drive making a comeback and cab-forward turning into old hat.

The 300M Special is the sportiest version of Chrysler’s big sedans. A quicker, tighter take on the standard 300M, it adds an aggressive edge with more performance and better handling.

The 300M was added to the lineup in 1998, harking back to Chrysler’s legendary “letter cars,” a low-volume series of high-performance automobiles made between 1955 and 1965.

It took 33 years to get from the letter “L” to the letter M, and the concept had changed radically.

Now powered by a high-output V-6 instead of a V-8, the 300M was tarred by muscle-car enthusiasts as a poseur, and despite its performance attributes and practical accommodations, the 300M never lived up to its promise in the marketplace.

And the word is, 300M goes away next year after the 300C takes center stage.

Engine and transmission

Although the 300M may lack the booming V-8s of its letter-series predecessors, the V-6 under the sloping hood produces enough horsepower and torque to make this big sedan feel quick and muscular.

All that’s missing is the massive off-the-line torque of the big V-8s. This was a sticking point among Chrysler purists, that the 300M was a letter-car in name only, without the dragster performance to back up the claim.

Not that the sedan is a slowpoke. The Special adds 5 horsepower and 8 pound-feet of torque to the basic M engine, boosting it to 255 and 258, respectively. The power comes on a smooth rush.

A downside is the need for premium gas, rather than regular in the standard M.

The four-speed automatic is mated nicely to the engine power, with an AutoStick feature for manual shifting.

Handling and drivability

The Special adds a sport suspension to the already sporty M, providing a ride that is firm but not harsh. There’s minimal body sway in corners in this nice handling vehicle.

Steering has been enhanced for the Special, making it more responsive and precise. Also upgraded are the strong four-wheel disc brakes with an antilock system that senses each wheel’s speed in turns for added braking stability.

Wheels and tires on the Special are special indeed: 18-inch alloys with unidirectional tires. These really stick to the pavement.

All of this adds up to a sedan that is reasonably fun to drive, though more for people who appreciate American-style performance rather than European finesse.

Styling

For a big car, the M manages to look lithe and sporty, especially with those huge wheels. The Special is lowered one inch on its sports suspension, and additional ground-effects trim makes it look lower still. A sleek pair of chrome tips carry the tuned exhaust system.

The cab-forward design holds up well on the Special, which has a stealthy, masculine appearance. The short nose, large wheel arches, well-defined windows and high tail carry presence and garnered some turned heads.

Some people thought the tall, flat rear aspect looked awkward. On balance, the trunk space is huge.

Interior

The cabin is roomy and accommodating, a hallmark of cab-forward design. The huge, slanted windshield provides a deep, airy space, making the interior feel even bigger.

The Sirius satellite radio system is great. Similar to rival XM, it offers more than 100 stations ranging from classical to comedy, with lots of oldie, alternative, jazz, country, talk and pop. Minor problem was how the system blanked out under overpasses.

The system runs through a fantastic 360-watt audio system with nine speakers and a six-disc CD player.

The supportive seats are leather-trimmed, as are the steering wheel and shift knob. The gauges are white-faced and vintage-looking.

There’s a full assembly of features, with power everything, trip computer and vehicle-information center and tire-pressure monitor.

The center console is nicely finished, but in the test car, it felt loose and shaky.

Pricing

The 300M Special comes fully loaded at $32,615. Options on the test car included a moonroof, $895; Sirius radio, $520, with the subscription fee extra; side air bags, $390; and shipping, $680. Total was $35,170.

Bottom line

Sleek and powerful, the 300M Special provides a sporty take on the big American car. It may be outdated, but it still has appeal.

Chrysler 300M Special

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive.

Base price: $32,615.

Price as tested: $35,170.

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6, 255 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 258 pound-feet of torque at 3,950 rpm.

Transmission: Four-speed automatic.

Wheelbase: 113.0 inches.

Curb weight: 3,650 pounds.

EPA mileage: 18 city, 27 highway.

Highs:

Performance attributes.

Sleek styling.

Roomy interior.

Lows:

Awkward rear styling.

Shaky console.

Suddenly outdated.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.4
  • Performance 4.3
  • Value for the money 4.2
  • Exterior styling 4.7
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

The best car I've ever owned! I loved this car!

I still miss my 300M. It was my favorite car Ih've ever owed. I drove awesome and handled great in snow and ice. It was extremely comfortable and had tons of leg room front and back. I would buy it all over again if given the chance.

1.9

worst car I ever owned!

worst car I ever owned! had nothing but problems, one right after the other. I have spent more money on repairs, than I paid for the car.

5.0

167,000+ miles later and I still love this car

I bought my 2003 300M Special brand new October 2002. At the time Chrysler's slogan was "Drive=Love". Well, that was true when I bought it and I still love driving this car 167,000 miles later. I still love looking at it and for 14 years it's reliability has been as good or better than any other car I've owned. Regular maintenance and really knowing the car has helped to keep repairs to mostly the wear items. Even with the stiffer suspension of the Special I can do an 8-10 hour trip and not be tired from the seats. The seats in my M are much more comfortable than the seats of my wife's Nissan Murano. I am really sorry that Chrysler discontinued the LH line after 2004 but at least I have my 300M Special and I have no plans of ever selling it.

See all 9 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chrysler
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/less than 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
3 months/3,000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
125-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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