2008 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, appealing styling.
The Chrysler 300 nameplate includes a wide range of engines and amenities, from a frugal V6 to the powerful SRT8. The base model comes well-equipped for less than $25,000 MSRP. 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.
Long-wheelbase models are also available that some families may find appealing. Aimed primarily at the chauffeur-driven executive class, the long-wheelbase version offer a cavernous back seat, th more leg room than just about anything on the road. It's great for tall folks or anyone who likes space and convenience and can be equipped with custom features such as writing tables and foot rests.
The Chrysler 300 is rear-wheel drive, and we consider that a benefit. Rear-wheel drive adds to the pleasure and excitement of driving this big sedan, and that's partly why luxury sedans and sports cars continue to use it. The 300's traction and stability electronics are well sorted and effective, delivering good all-season performance, and all-wheel drive is an option for those who live in the snow belt. With the big-torque V8, the 300 also offers something buyers that has had buyers turning to SUVs: 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, while the SRT8 offers true high performance in civilized fashion.
Then there's the styling. Inside and out, 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.
For 2008, Chrysler added several features and tweaked the interior and exterior design. New features include adaptive cruise control, Sirius Backseat TV and Chrysler's MyGig, a 20-gigabyte hard drive that holds songs, pictures, and navigation system map information. Chrysler's UConnect hands-free cell-phone link has been upgraded with an integrated iPod interface. The interior has a new instrument panel and center console, and the arm rests, center console and door trim benefit from soft-touch surfaces. Outside, the front and rear fascia, grille, decklid, and side moldings are updated. Base models are now called LX.
The 2008 Chrysler 300 lineup includes seven models: two V6 engines, two V8s, all-wheel drive, and two long-wheelbase models.
The Chrysler 300 LX ($24,595) has a 2.7-liter dual-overhead-cam V6 generating 178 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque and matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. It's equipped with cloth upholstery, power driver's seat, cruise control, solar-control glass and 17-inch steel wheels with hub caps.
The 300 Touring ($28,590) upgrades to a 3.5-liter single-overhead-cam V6 making 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It has a five-speed automatic transmission with Chrysler's AutoStick manual-shift feature. The Touring comes with leather seating, 17-inch aluminum wheels and fog lamps. The all-wheel-drive Touring AWD ($31,445) is identically equipped.
The 300 Limited ($31,620) adds 18-inch chrome wheels, a slightly firmer Touring suspension, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, automatic headlamps, automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, an electronic vehicle information center, and one year of Sirius satellite radio. The Limited AWD ($33,815) is identically equipped.
The 300C ($35,395) features a 5.7-liter overhead-valve V8 (Hemi), delivering 340 horsepower and a substantial 390 pound-feet of torque. It also has a power tilt/telescoping steering column, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, remote starting, and rain-sensing wipers. The 300C AWD ($37,495) is equipped the same. An SRT Design Group option ($1,495) for the 300C adds many of the SRT design cues, 20-inch wheels, and more significantly, engine tweaks and special exhaust that raise the output to 350 horsepower.
The SRT8 ($41,385) features a 425-hp, 6.1-liter Hemi V8 with loads of performance tweaks, 20-inch wheels, and unique design features.
Options are plentiful with many available packages that require research. One of the most popular is Protection Group II ($890), which adds curtain-style head-protection airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, rear park assist, self-sealing tires and cabin air filtration. Stand alone options include rear-seat DVD entertainment with a seven-inch LCD screen, a sunroof ($950), UConnect hands-free communication with iPod interface ($250), and a Boston Acoustics audio upgrade with six-CD changer, subwoofer and 368 watts of output. Also available for 2008 are Sirius Backseat TV, with three channels of children's programming, and Chrysler's MyGig. MyGig comes in two versions: the MyGig Entertainment System, which has a 6.5-inch touchscreen and a 20-gigabyte hard drive to hold songs and pictures, and the MyGig Multimedia Infotainment System, which adds a navigation system with voice control and real-time traffic information.
Safety features include multi-stage front airbags. Curtain-style head protection airbags for outboard passengers and torso-protecting front side-impact airbags are optional. An Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Traction Control System (TCS) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist are standard on all but the LX model, where they are optional. Other safety-related options include rear obstacle detection, high-intensity discharge headlamps, a tire-pressure monitor, and all-wheel drive. The Chrysler 300 has earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for front-impact crash protection.
The W.P. Chrysler Executive Series, or long-wheelbase option ($10,600), is offered on the 300 Touring and 300C with rear-wheel drive. This package must be ordered from a dealership through the Acubuilt coachworks, which finishes the cars in partnership with Chrysler.