MT First Test: 2005 Chrysler 300C

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The great American sedan reborn -- with a little help from Mercedes-Benz

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    By Todd Lassa
    Photography by John Kiewicz
    Motor Trend, May 2004

    Acres of sheetmetal stretch out from the upright, late-1950s-style windshield. That's a looooong hood over the Hemi V-8; not the stubby kind of cab-forward hood or Japanese car-style hood you can see over. At least for its full-size cars, Chrysler has given up trying to design Japanese-style family sedans--this new flagship is confidently, unabashedly American.

    While the 300C has mid-century postmodern American styling cues and proportions, it's devoid of retro styling elements, save for its square, eggcrate grille reminiscent of the 1957-1958 Chryslers. Driving the 300 is like being in one of the prairie schooners of yore, yet without its soft, sloppy suspension, eight-mpg fuel economy, or wait-until-tomorrow-to-stop brakes. Just as cars like the Honda Accord proved in the 1980s that family sedans don't need to be awkward, this new 300 shows that an American sedan needn't be small to handle well. And by replacing the front-drive 300M, Concord, and Dodge Intrepid LH models with the rear-drive 300, 300C, and Dodge Magnum LX models, Chrysler has replaced annoying torque steer with sporty throttle steer. Two more LXs are on the way, a 2006 Dodge sedan and probably a 2007 Chrysler convertible.

    There's plenty of Benz, mostly of the E-Class variety, in these large machines. The aluminum five-link rear suspension on all 300s is based on the E-Class design, but the 300 has a wider track and bigger wheels and tires, with a steel cradle in place of the E's aluminum one. The 300's 120-inch wheelbase is two inches longer than the E-Class's and just one inch shy of the Mercedes S-Class's. Its seating position is 2.5 inches higher than the 2004 300M's, and its generous interior has lots of rear-seat legroom and headroom for six-footers. But it also has a driveshaft tunnel that makes the middle rear-seat plausible only for kids. Overall length is 196.8 inches, just under the five-meter-long European standard for large sedans.

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    Chrysler will sell a version of the 300 with the Dodge Magnum's sportwagon tail in Europe later this year. The Brampton, Ontario, factory will build right-hand-drive models for appropriate markets, and a turbodiesel is in future plans. The Pirelli tires used on Euro-market cars allow a top speed of 155 mph versus the speed-governed 126 mph for U.S.-market 300C Hemis. Curb weight ranges from 3721 pounds for the base 300 to 4046 pounds for the 300C. All-wheel drive, available late this summer, will add about 80 pounds to 3.5-liter and Hemi models.

    The 300 comes in four trim levels, spread among three engine choices. The 300 (just 300) has the 2.7-liter twin-cam V-6, tuned to 190 horsepower and 190 pound-feet--less power but more torque than in previous applications. Next up are the 300 Touring and 300 Limited, both powered by the 250-horse, 250-pound-foot 3.5-liter single-cam V-6. The 300C earns the top engine offering, and, in spite of any Mercedes-sourced parts you may find underneath the car, this powerplant is as red, white, and blue as they come: the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 tuned to 340 horses and 390 pound-feet, making its first non-truck/SUV appearance.

    Also making its Chrysler debut is a Multi-Displacement System (MDS). Beating GM's Displacement on Demand system to market, it seamlessly shuts off half of the Hemi's cylinders at cruising speed, effectively turning it into a V-4. Chrysler expects 17/25 mpg in EPA fuel-mileage numbers, exemplary for a powerful V-8. The two V-6 engines are mated to a retuned version of Chrysler's four-speed automatic, while the Hemi is graced with the Kokomo, Indiana-built Mercedes five-speed automatic. The five-speed is the only transmission for cars equipped with the Mercedes 4Matic-based all-wheel drive, available late this summer, whether you choose the 3.5-liter V-6 or the Hemi.

    All 300s are delineated by standard and optional features, much like American cars of the 1950s, in which different models within a brand shared body shells. We were dubious about this at first: Would a luxury-car buyer be willing to spring $37,000 for a loaded 300C, what with sub-$25,000 300s on dealer lots? Conversely, Chrysler infamously botched the launch of the Pacifica with too many expensive, fully equipped examples. This time, there'll be plenty sub-$30,000 300 Tourings and Limiteds populating dealer lots.

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    The Hemi's back, but this 340-horse V-8 benefits from a Multiple Displacement System borrowed from Mercedes that, for improved fuel economy, cuts out four of the engine's eight cylinders when not needed.

    Eighteen-inch wheels and tires are standard on the C; the V-6s all get 17s. ABS is standard except in the base 300, and side-curtain airbags are optional on all models (there are no door- or seat-mounted side bags). The C also features a bit more chrome trim, including chrome exterior-door-handle pulls in place of body paint. All trim levels come with a nicely finished, high-quality interior. None achieves Audi standards, but along with the Pacifica's cabin, they demonstrate that Chrysler is upping its game in this area. The 300C adds some chrome bits, a chrome center stack, automatic-up controls for the power front windows and real wood accents on the steering wheel, gearshift knob, and door-handle pulls. One tasty extra is tortoise-shell trim for the 300C, which our test car lacked. The V-6 models have manual tilt-and-telescope steering wheels, while the 300C's is power--the steering columns are from the Benz parts shelf.

    We can debate all day the irony of how it took involvement from a German car company to build a postmodern rear-drive V-8 American sedan. It's worth mentioning, however, that the need for a new rear-drive platform was already on the agenda before the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler merger; having access to all these great parts just made executing the job that much easier. The bottom line is that it works well.

    The car rides more firmly than a Mercedes E-Class (including the air-suspension-equipped models in the softer of its dual settings). Carving up mountain roads tends to be limited more by the perceived size of the car than by its dynamics. There's moderate roll at turn-in, but the C remains poised as you push it, with mild understeer. The 300's steering is a bit too light, but it's also direct and precise. And the big brakes, aided by the optional ABS and brake assist but without the Merc's electronic brake transfer nanny, are powerful, lending Germanic effectiveness without the electro-artificial feel.

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    Chrysler has thoroughly tackled the noise problem prevalent on the old 300M and Concorde (you couldn't hold a conversation with back-seat passengers) with a stout chassis and lots of sound deadening. Frame rails are composed of octagonal sections, and there's liberal use of polyurethane foam throughout. The result is a sedan that feels exceedingly solid and runs quietly until you stomp the throttle to the floor. This car is perfect for an old-fashioned cross-country family trip, but it won't get soft and unappealing when you get to twisty mountain or canyon roads.

    We took a 3.5-liter and a cloth-seated 2.7-liter for a quick spin; each has a slightly softer suspension, and both engines are adequate. The 2.7 made the four-speed automatic work overtime, but it launched about as strongly with no passengers as the 3.5 launched with two passengers aboard.

    The 300C with its all-American Hemi feels ready to take on most any upmarket luxury sedan, providing power that lets you merge or pass with confidence. MDS helps get almost guilt-free fuel mileage, especially on the highway. With its 19-gallon tank, the 300C can go up to 475 miles between fill-ups of the recommended 89 octane. The only retro aspect of the car's dynamics is the impression you're driving something really big. Chrysler says the car is slightly shorter than the 300M, but it feels much larger, especially through tightly curbed one-lane parking lots, the result of high beltlines and a long hood.

    Those who don't remember what it was like to drive before the oil crises will need some time to get used to it. The rest of us will immediately recognize the return of the salad days of the big American road car, powered by a proper and much welcomed V-8.

    ------

    Our Take: 2005 Chrysler 300C

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    What's Hot
    • Autobahn-worthy Hemi power
    • Classic American proportions
    • Smooth, quiet ride, good handling

    What's Not
    • Interior needs more style
    • Speed-limited to 126 mph
    • It should be named "300N"

    Don't Miss
    Groovy tortoise-shell interior accents

    Bottom Line
    Bold, original styling, spacious interior, and rear drive could make this a marketplace winner


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    2005 Chrysler 300C

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    Powertrain/Chassis
    Drivetrain layout Front engine, rwd
    Engine type 90-degree V-8, cast-iron block, aluminum heads
    Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl, eight deactivating and eight conventional hydraulic lifters
    Bore/stroke, in/mm 3.92x3.58/99.5x90.9
    Displacement, ci/cc 345.0/5654
    Compression ratio 9.6:1
    Horsepower @ rpm 340 @ 4000
    Torque @ rpm 390 @ 4000
    Redline, rpm 5800
    Transmission 5-speed automatic
    Axle/final-drive ratio 3.40:1/2.82:1

    Suspension, f;r Upper & lower control arms, coil springs over gas-charged shocks, anti-roll bar; five-link with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, anti-roll bar
    Brakes, f;r 13.6-in vented disc;12.6-in vented disc
    Wheels 18 x 7.5 aluminum
    Tires P225/60R 18 99H M+S ContinentalContiTouringContact self-sealing
    Dimensions
    Wheelbase, in 120.0
    Track, f/r, in 63.0/63.1
    Length, in 196.8
    Width, in 74.1
    Height, in 59.3
    Legroom, in 41.8/40.2
    Shoulder room, in 59.4/57.7
    Headroom, in 38.7/38.0
    Curb weight, lb 4046
    Weight, f/r, % 54/46

    Seating capacity 5-pass
    Cargo capacity, cu ft 15.6
    Fuel capacity, gal 19.0

    Test Data
    Acceleration, sec @ mph
    0-30 2.2
    0-40 3.1
    0-50 4.5
    0-60 5.8
    0-70 7.4
    0-80 9.7
    0-90 12.1
    0-100 14.9
    1/4 mile, sec/mph 14.27/98.56
    Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 122

    600-ft slalom, mph 63.2
    Turning circle, ft 38.9
    Top gear rpm @ 60 mph 1800

    Consumer Info
    On sale in U.S. Spring 2004
    Base price $32,995
    Price as tested $36,690

    Airbags Front/side curtain
    Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
    Powertrain warranty 7 yrs/70,000 miles
    EPA mpg, city/hwy 17/25 (mfg est)
    Range, miles, city/hwy 323/475

    Recommended fuel Unleaded midgrade

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  3. Fishbait

    Fishbait Guest

    that's one bad ass ride.

    there's a white one here in town where i work. windows are tinted out to hell.... has something like 22" chrome rims on it with meaty as fuck tires.. and a custom grill.

    looks like something a gangster would drive... very pimp. :o
     
  4. Scooby

    Scooby Growing up too fast...

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    my boss has one, its nice :drool:
     
  5. ZoominRex

    ZoominRex New Member

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    this has been out for half a year already hasn't it? i see them all over the place. :dunno:
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    4 months ! = 6 months
     
  7. Throwdest

    Throwdest Guest

    Poor mans Bentley
     
  8. The Green Bastard

    The Green Bastard Click click click bang

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    Canada, luckily, doesn't get the 2.7 models.
    Only the 3.5 and 5.7.
     
  9. StevesVR4

    StevesVR4 Get Arrested

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    Needs more dials and less idiot lights.
     
  10. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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  11. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    like what? :hs:
     
  12. StevesVR4

    StevesVR4 Get Arrested

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    I like to at least have a voltmeter and oil pressure. They can be handy.
     
  13. Homan

    Homan Unconquerable OT Supporter

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    interior is shit
     
  14. Y2kAccord

    Y2kAccord Everything happens for reasons I just dont know

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    I like it
     
  15. Meat Popsicle

    Meat Popsicle What's that smell? OT Supporter

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    governed at 126 mph? :hsd:
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  17. Meat Popsicle

    Meat Popsicle What's that smell? OT Supporter

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    I want a Magnum over that, but god damn Chrysler is pumping out some nice cars coming up. :o
     
  18. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    I don't know of any speed limits around 125mph in the US. :dunno:
     
  19. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    :werd: those magnums are freaking hot. I'm liking the crossfire too I want to see the SRT-6's when they come out.
     
  20. cakennedy

    cakennedy Guest

    Looks great, would make a terrific commuter or long-distance car. Too heavy and thirsty for me, though.
     
  21. ChickenH

    ChickenH Enita non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

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    I want that Lincoln Continental concept from the auto show. it looks kind of like that. but the interior is all retro on the lincoln.
     
  22. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    oh boy now grandma can do burnouts too :hs:
     
  23. user32

    user32 Guest

    I sat in one this weekend while I was buying my wife a car. I was seriously considering one until I sat in it. The interior is about the same size as a honda civic!

    There is no way I fit (I am 6'7" 270lbs). I fit better in the PT Cruiser I bought for my wife!!!
     
  24. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    you're a huge bitch! :eek3:
     
  25. Meat Popsicle

    Meat Popsicle What's that smell? OT Supporter

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    You actually bought a PT Cruiser? :ugh:
     

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