2007 300C New Car Test Drive
Smooth, quiet operation, tight handling, space, luxury: The Chrysler 300 sedan has it all, at attractive prices. Yet what the 300 has more than anything is bold styling that appeals to a lot of people.
The Chrysler 300 line offers a wide range of engines and amenities. The base model comes well-equipped for less than $25,000, with a frugal V6. The Touring model adds leather, amenities and a more powerful V6 for about $28,000. The 300C offers a truly powerful Hemi V8, with Chrysler's fuel-saving Multi Displacement System, and it can be equipped with most of the gizmos and luxury features available today.
The 2007 lineup includes new long-wheelbase models. Aimed primarily at the chauffeur-driven executive class, they may also appeal to families. The longer wheelbase turns the 300's roomy back seat into something past cavernous, with more leg room than just about anything on the road. Great for tall folks or anyone who likes space and convenience. These long-wheelbase models can be equipped with custom features such writing tables and foot rests.
The Chrysler 300 marked a return to rear-wheel drive for large American sedans, and we consider that a benefit. Rear-wheel drive adds to the driving pleasure, which is partly why luxury sedans and sports car have traditionally used it. The traction and stability electronics are well sorted and effective on this car, delivering good all-season performance. All-wheel drive is an option for those who live in the snow belt. With the big-torque V8, it also allows something buyers have been seeking through sport-utility vehicles: enough towing capacity to pull a lightweight trailer.
The Chrysler 300 models are comfortable. They're also responsive for large cars. The 300C delivers thrilling acceleration and the SRT-8 true high performance in civilized fashion. Think of it as Detroit's answer to the BMW M5 or the Mercedes E63 AMG, for about $30,000 less.
Then there's the styling, inside and out, where this car makes no apologies. It won't be mistaken for any other sedan the road. It can be trimmed with chrome, mono-chrome and various wheels to look stately and elegant or downright mean.
The Chrysler 300 delivers impressive value, but emphasizing the cost/benefit ratio may minimize its other strengths. The 300s are good, appealing cars, and they've set the benchmark for Detroit's car builders.
The 2007 Chrysler 300 lineup includes seven models: two V6 engines, two V8s, all-wheel drive, and two long-wheelbase models.
The base Chrysler 300 ($24,320) has a 2.7-liter dual-overhead-cam V6 generating 190 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. It's reasonably well equipped, with cloth upholstery, power driver's seat, cruise control, solar-control glass and 17-inch steel wheels with hub caps.
The 300 Touring ($28,320) upgrades to a 3.5-liter single-overhead-cam V6 making 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, with a five-speed automatic and Chrysler's AutoStick manual-shift feature. The Touring also adds leather seating, 17-inch aluminum wheels and fog lamps.
The 300 Limited ($31,005) adds 18-inch chrome wheels, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, automatic headlamps, automatic temperature control and an electronic vehicle information center.
The 300C Hemi ($34,975) features a 5.7-liter overhead-valve V8, delivering 340 horsepower and a substantial 390 lb-ft of torque.
New for 2007 is the W.P. Chrysler Executive Series, or long-wheelbase option ($10,600). The long-wheelbase is offered on the 300 Touring and 300C with rear-wheel drive, and must be ordered from a dealership through the Acubuilt coachworks, which finishes the cars in partnership with Chrysler. The package extends the wheelbase six inches, and gives the 300 more rear-seat leg room than executive-class stalwarts such as the Audi A8L, BMW 750Li and Jaguar XJ-8L, at a substantially lower price.
The SRT-8 ($40,420) tops the 300 pecking order. This is a true high-performance sedan, in the mode of BMW's M models or Mercedes' AMG brand, and it features loads of performance tweaks, unique design features and most of the luxury gear. The SRT-8's centerpiece is a 425-hp, 6.1-liter Hemi V8.
Performance enthusiasts will appreciate the SRT Design Group option ($1,495) for the 300C. It adds many of the SRT design cues, and more significantly, engine tweaks and special exhaust that raise the 5.7-liter Hemi's output to 350 horsepower, for a fraction of the full SRT-8 package price.
Options are plentiful and potentially confusing, with 15 separate packages. One of the most popular is Protection Group II ($890), which adds curtain-style head-protection airbags, rear park assist, self-sealing tires and cabin air filtration. Stand alone options include a DVD-based GPS navigation system ($1,495), rear-seat DVD entertainment with a seven-inch LCD screen ($1,150), a power sunroof ($950), UConnect hands-free communication ($250), and a Boston Acoustics audio upgrade with six-CD changer, subwoofer and 368 watts of output.
The Chrysler 300 has earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for front-impact crash protection, but its standard safety features fall below the class benchmark. All 300s come with multi-stage front airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS); all but the base model come with Electronic Stability Program (ESP), all-speed Traction Control System (TCS) and Brake Assist for the ABS. Curtain-style head protection airbags for outboard passengers are optional, but the 300 does not offer torso-protecting side-impact airbags, front or rear. Other safety-related options include the rear park-assist, HID headlamps, a tire-pressure monitor, and all-wheel drive.