2004 300M New Car Test Drive
Chrysler's 300M flagship sedan is tuned for handling and performance, and designed to recall the historic 'letter cars' sold from 1955 to 1965. Its powerful engine and firm suspension emulate the taut, responsive driving experience usually associated with European sedans. It isn't a BMW 5 Series, but its handling is exceptional for a full-size front-wheel-drive sedan. And that makes the 300M a joy to drive.
Drivers seeking more zoom should consider the 300M Special, whose air dams and side skirts herald a lower, stiffer high-performance suspension, bold 18-inch wheels wearing massive P245/45ZR18 speed-rated tires, and a slightly more powerful version of the same 3.5-liter V6.
Changes to the 300M are minimal for 2003. An optional factory-installed Sirius satellite radio is available that receives 60 commercial-free music channels and 40 talk-radio channels at any location in the continental U.S.
Chrysler 300M ($28,490) comes standard with the usual complement of power accessories; automatic climate control; and 'Royale' leather seats with eight-way power, memory, and a manual lumbar adjustment. Standard performance goodies include a high-output 3.5-liter V6, four-speed AutoStick transmission, and Michelin P225/55R17 all-season touring tires.
An optional performance handling group ($560) upgrades the suspension, steering, and brakes, and switches to P225/55R17 all-season performance tires. You can also opt for a power moonroof ($895), chrome wheels ($750), or a premium 360-watt stereo system ($390) with a six-disc in-dash changer (up from four discs last year) and nine Infinity speakers.
300M Special ($32,015) delivers more driving thrills thanks to a higher-output version of the high-output 3.5-liter V6. It's rated at 255 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque at 3950 rpm, 5 more horsepower and 8 more pounds-feet than the standard 300M V6. The 300M Special attacks the curves with a stiffer suspension, firmer strut damping, and taller rear jounce bumpers. Eighteen-inch wheels and 245/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires aid grip, while stiffer brake calipers and outboard-vented rotors assure swift stops. A firm-feel steering gear enhances on-center response. Chrysler says one-third of 300M buyers opt for the Special.