The Chrysler 300C did its part to save the struggling company when it hit the market back in 2005. It's now six years later and the Chrysler engineering team has finally ripped into the 300, giving it a thorough overhaul. For 2011, the 300 includes changes like a new powertrain, some freshened sheet metal, an improved interior, techy LED headlamps and, eventually, a ZF-developed eight-speed automatic transmission.
Chrysler brand chief executive officer, Olivier Francois, told a sizable crowd at the Detroit Auto Show that the automaker invested a massive $ 1 billion on the redesign of the 300. Undoubtedly, a sizable chunk of that investment went towards fitting the eight-speed transmission and 292-horsepower 3.5-liter Pentastar V6 within the 300. Fortunately, it all wedges in and when the eight-speed tranny becomes available late this year, the V6-equipped 2011 300 should achieve nearly 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Yeah, that's a far cry from the Prius' 50 mpg combined number, but it's significantly better than the most efficient 300 out there today – the 2010 2.7-liter 178-hp V6 Touring model – which achieves a mere 26 mpg highway.