There was a big whoop-to-do about the Chrylser 300C when it appeared on the market last year. It was the next big thing; everyone would want one, and after appearances in trendy hip-hop videos, even the likes of Snoop Dogg were trying to get their hands on one. I haven't heard much about the vehicle since then, although that may be a direct result of my MTV-viewing days being left behind two pregnancies ago. Has the hype died down? Was it just a hot (but short-lived) trend?
Apparently not. Upon arrival of my 2006 300C SRT8 (Street and Racing Technology, V-8) the gawkers flock to me like flies to a strip of sticky tape. They're unanimously shocked to see the inside of my vehicle loaded to the max with car seats and other kid paraphernalia. I even have one reveler get such a kick out of it, he suggests I take a photo of the front seat of the vehicle, decked out in its hot SRT8 logo and stacked high with beach towels, floaty swimsuits and the menagerie of stuffed animals that absolutely had to accompany us to the pool that day. Lesson learned: Fluffy stuffed ducks are not great swimmers.
Despite the 300C's target market being driving enthusiasts (or, more precisely, street racers, or "spirited drivers," as Chrysler calls them), I'm willing to advocate that the vehicle go off the hip-hop tour and move on to the mom's club circuit. With a backseat wide enough for three sets of Latch connectors (and room to squeeze the accompanying three sets of car seats), this vehicle fills an extremely important, yet all too empty niche: Cars for people who need to transport more than two kids and don't want to drive an SUV or minivan. Pair this with a fabulous rear seat entertainment system featuring a DVD screen that flips up from the center console, and I actually look forward to the 45-minute drive downtown for a play-date.
Instead of trying to mediate the usual sibling car arguments, I spend my driving time learning how to make blueberry meringue tartlets on the optional Sirius Satellite Radio. I'll never actually do it, but at least I'm expanding my brain cells. The only noises I hear from the kids are the occasional giggle-bouts and movie lines: "This place is crack-a-lackin!" I agree!
There's one problem with the Chrysler 300C, although realistically it's more my problem than the car's: I feel like a little old granny driving this car, trying to peer up and over the steering wheel. I can't adjust the seating position high enough to get a great view of the road, and hence feel swallowed up. I'm not sure if I have the stature - or the larger-than-life personality - needed to wear this car with the oomph and gusto it commands.
I can't get away with reviewing the 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT8 without mentioning the 425-horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 engine. I know, I know. I really don't care about those numbers, either, but I'm sure someone out there does. Essentially, the numbers say this puppy is fast. I literally have a hard time taking off from a red light without squealing the tires. At first it's unintentional, but then I get a little thrill out of it. By the end of my test drive, my kids are chanting "gun it, gun it, gun it," and I can't help but succumb to the pressure. Okay - just for the kids, I'll burn rubber one last time.
*For more information on the Chrysler 300C SRT 8 and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 3
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair - Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groover-On