Although most don’t know it, the Chrysler 300 line is actually pretty old. The name 300 was kicked off in 1998 with the 300M and that really didn’t go that well. The car was like most Chrysler products at that time, bland, boring, and fairly terrible. Yet, Chrysler managed to overhaul the vehicle into the modern version you see today.
In 2005, the mafia looking box sedan was penned by the Chrysler design team and it instantly sold millions. Sure, it wasn’t very good, as the motor was thirsty, the handling was numb, and interior was Chinese in quality, and that might actually be an insult to the Chinese. Yet, with those looks, people flocked to the car. Sort of like somebody who has a terrible personality, but looks gorgeous.
Now, with Chrysler’s new management comes a reworked 300 and we managed to dig up some information on the new sedan.
UPDATE 12/06/10: Chrysler’s finally given us a glimpse on what the new 300C is going to look like. Took them long enough, right? Anyway, these aren’t full scale photos of the car - just teasers - but it does give us a better idea of what to expect when the car makes its debut sometime next year.
Hit the jump to read on.
We can clearly see that the overall design of the 300C has changed, as it appears to be more curvaceous. That being said, compared to the current version, a simple curve on one quarter panel would be a massive curvaceous change. The mafia might not like and it may not appear to be a Bentley from a distance, but it looks better and if you disagree, well, there’s something wrong with your vision.
Up front, Chrysler’s new corporate grille is flanked by stylish headlamps that use LED daytime running lamps. Out back, the taillamps are spruced up with chrome accents and a large chrome strip that runs the length of the rear bumper. After all, what would a Chrysler be if it wasn’t for chrome. Seriously, this isn’t the 1950s anymore, chrome is good, but in small doses.
From the side, the rear of the car has some Nissan Altima attributes, but what car doesn’t copy a bit from the competition. Those who have seen it, including dealers, say it is an amazing car, inside and out and they’ve praised the overall look.
On the inside, we were told - not surprisingly - to expect much better materials, fit, and finish. The flat instrument cluster and straight, square dashboard have been tossed in the rubbish bin, with the new one having more contours and curves, with contrasting materials in both color and texture. This is such good news, as the old 300C and 300S models really lacked a quality interior.
If there was one area in which the 300 line succeeded, it was in engine power. The SRT8 was a gas drinker, but my oh my was it fast. We aren’t sure what kind of motor that new SRT8 will use, maybe the 6.4-liter that’s going into the new Challenger. Nothing has been reported as of yet.
This kind of power isn’t for everybody, so Chrysler will offer the 300 with a V6 and the smaller 5.7-liter V8. The base models will have a V6 pushing out 292 horsepower, with better highway mileage than the 2010 V6, which was expected to be the all-new Pentastar creation. The optional Hemi will go up slightly to 363 horsepower, but gas mileage reportedly has increased.
An eight-speed automatic is reportedly available, but it seems to be optional on mostly every model.
Handling, which was never a strong suit in the old 300 or any Chrysler for that matter, should be improved, but we will have to wait to find out.
The Chrysler 300 can’t be compared to a midsize sedan, as it’s more upscale and more expensive than most family sedans. So, we need to take it up against the Acura TSX, BMW 328i, Buick LaCrosse, and the Lexus ES350. Currently, the 300C doesn’t stack up very well, as it would easily come in last to these rivals.
The TSX packs either a four-cylinder or six-cylinder, but for comparison’s sake we will use the six. Under the hood is a 280 hp 3.5 L V-6 SOHC with an automatic transmission. Fuel economy is around 18 City / 27 Hwy. It’s look are right on target with the 300 and the build quality is second to none. It also drives like a dream, so it should prove to be tough competition for the new Chrysler.
The Lexus brings solid looks, an amazingly luxurious ride and competent 268 hp 3.5 L V-6 DOHC. It’s not sporty in any way, but either was the V6 300C. The issue with the ES is it’s dullness. That being said, we wouldn’t mind having it in our garage as an everyday driver.
The BMW 328i packs German engineering and quality with a 230 hp 3.0 L inline-six. While the others only offer automatic transmissions, this version comes with a manual and for that reason alone, we want one.
Buick’s new LaCrosse is like a society that builds a tree house one year and the pyramids the next. It’s such a set up over the old version that we don’t consider the previous version to be real anymore. It packs an Ecotec 182 hp 2.4-liter inline-four, so it’s not as powerful as the 300 or the other rivals, but you can get it with a six-cylinder if you choose.
Expect the 2012 Chrysler 300 to make its debut in the first half of next year.