A Lot Newer Than It Looks From The Outside 2011 Chrysler 300 - Click above for high-res image gallery "We basically blew the old car up. The number of parts we carried over from the last car you can just about hold in your hands," said Mitch Clauw, Chief Engineer on the 2011 Chrysler 300. He was responding to repeated questions about the new sedan. Was it all-new, or just a heavy refresh like the 200 Sedan? You can't blame journalists for being confused. Chrysler's product onslaught is putting 16 all-new and significantly improved models on the road this year. But all-new is a very different thing from significantly improved. Clauw supported his answer, "Every exterior panel is new. Every piece in the interior is new. With the underbody, just a few pieces of the front floor pan are carry over. The front and rear aluminum suspension pieces and geometry are different. So is the steering. The V6 is all new. While the internals of the Hemi are carryover, the intake, exhaust and accessories are not." Okay, we believe him now, but you'd need really big hands to hold the carried-over five-speed automatic transmission. Continue reading... %Gallery-115271% Photos copyright ©2011 Rex Roy / AOL The previous generation Chrysler 300 (2005-2010) sported bold, in-your-face styling. At the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, Ralph Gilles (Senior Vice President of Product Design and CEO of the Dodge Brand) told the press that, "The new 300 needed a more grown-up look." As usual, Gilles nailed it. The look is more mature while remaining handsome in a masculine way. However, some of the edge is admittedly gone. And it will be missed. The new look is still more Armani than Abercrombie. The bodylines are simultaneously more crisp but less angular, softened by careful contouring. The car is marginally longer, wider and taller, but everything sits on a nearly identical wheelbase of 120.2 inches versus 120.0 inches. Clauw explained that they didn't want to change the 300's character, rationalizing these subtle adjustments as opposed to a wholesale re-design of the car akin to the old Ford Taurus (err... 500) to new Ford Taurus. The team worked nearly three years to thoroughly re-engineer what they had in order for the car to hit their performance targets. Many of the targets were developed by measuring performance and customer perceptions of the Lexus LS460, Hyundai Genesis Sedan, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series. Regarding outward visibility, for example, the old car wasn't as easy to see out of as its competitors. To remedy the situation, engineers made the A- and B-pillars thinner. The beltline was also lowered and the windshield raked back three inches. Every change contributed to improved outward visibility. This was a wise and practical decision, even though it helped spell the end of the previous 300's chopped-roof aesthetic. The most noticeable exterior change is to the front fascia. The entire nose is more contoured, a decision made to improve aerodynamics, another area engineers needed to improve. In the …
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