After a long week of tough driving and tougher criticism in the Honda S2000, slipping into the pseudo-luxury of the all new Chrysler 300C was welcome. Obviously the two cars are completely separate entities not to be compared to each other at all, but I think it's interesting to see the daily or weekly switching of gears we auto journalists go through. It's arduous I know, but should also be documented to our readers.

Now onto the much, much, much talked about 300C.

Possibly the biggest misconception about this vehicle is that it?s a luxury car. Even though the 300 has the stand-out looks of a luxury car it still starts at $23,920. In the V6 Base, Limited and Touring models this car can compete with the popular Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford 500 and numerous other sedans. The test vehicle, a 300C with the famous 5.7L HEMI V8, at $34,425 (as equipped) actually steps things up a notch to compete with entry level luxury cars with badges like Acura, BMW, Cadillac and even Chrysler sibling Mercedes-Benz.

Covering this much ground isn?t easy. The leather seats of our tester are certainly up to par and drivers? eyes immediately fall on the gorgeous gauges. But everything isn?t glamour here. The door moldings and seat bottoms are solid plastic. There?s nothing fancy about them. And even the wood & leather wrapped steering wheel has a plastic center.

But all that gets overlooked with the all too intoxicating power of the HEMI. I wasn?t expecting much since it?s such a large vehicle, but the 3,700 pounds moves rather quickly and the transmission is smooth as silk.

I have a long weekend of driving to the lake for the weekend and will report on the 300C?s highway manners.

Starting Price: $32, 370

Options: Sound Group (6-disc in-dash CD Changer and Boston Acoustic Speakers, Subwoofer, 380-Watt Digital Amplifier) $535
Power Moonroof $895
Destination Charge $625

Total: $34,425

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