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BEST AMERICAN SEDAN IN MORE THAN 20 YEARS?

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Mar 6, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

BEST AMERICAN SEDAN IN OVER 20 YEARS? By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

You've seen them everywhere - on the streets, on the highways and parked in shopping malls. Since its introduction several months ago, the all-new 2005 Chrysler 300 has taken hold of consumers like no other sedan for over 20 years. The annual readers poll at AutoWeek voted the all-new 300C 'most sought after full-size sedan'. That's the first time that an American sedan beat out the German, English and Asian automakers in recent memory. Further proof is that the all-new Chrysler 300 was just named the Motor Trend magazine 2005 Car of the Year. What more can you say? I really enjoyed every minute I spent behind the wheel of the powerful HEMI 300C. The 300 line of Chrysler sedans starts with the entry-level 2.7 liter V6 that makes 190 hp, then the mid-level 300 Touring or SXT models with a 3.5 liter V6 that produces 250 hp. The top-of-the-line 300C is powered by a 5.7 liter HEMI V8 that generates 340 hp at 5,000 rpm and 390 lb.ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The transmissions mated to both V6 powered 300's is Chrysler's four-speed automatic. The 300C HEMI gets the latest five-speed automatic with AutoStick manual shifting. Standard tires/wheels on the V6 models measure 17 inches, with the 300C HEMI coming standard with 18 inch rolling stock. The last difference between the three models is that only the HEMI has dual exhaust pipes. The body styling and most of the interior are shared by all three. I only mention this because you can get behind the wheel of the base model for just $23,595.00, the Touring or SXT models for just a couple of thousand dollars more and the top-of-the-line 300C for just $32,370.00. When compared to the all-new 2005 Cadillac STS, Lexus 430, Mercedes-Benz S500 and BMW 740Li, each vehicle is priced many thousands of dollars more and each vehicle is less powerful than the 300C.

What first grabs you is the 300C's bold and powerful styling. The front fascia's standup design is highlighted by a large egg crate grille reminiscent of the 1958 C300 that projects out from the center. At the sides are large, round projector, halogen headlamps/turn-signal lamps, and separate, round high-beam lamps. The lower bumper houses round fog lamps and aggressive cutouts facing the center. From the side is a unique profile never seen before with short front and rear overhangs, swept-back windshield pillars, striking wheel arches cut high, lower body side extensions, and a low, flat roofline that rakes quickly down to the short deck. The side is highlighted with big, chrome door handles, chrome covered, power-remote/heated side mirrors and a thin, full-length chrome body-side molding to protect against dings and dents. The rear is also striking with a flat trunk lid that also drops straight down with the new signature Chrysler wreath centered in the middle. The big, wraparound tail, brake and backup lamps fit in nicely, while the two, 2in. wide polished stainless steel exhaust tips aggressively stick out from underneath the bumper. The all-new 300 cuts through the air with a co-efficient of drag of just 0.36. The new 300 carries a bold and elegant look not seen before and it is driving consumers into Chrysler showrooms in record number. That's only the beginning because the all-new 2005 300C is the most powerful sedan produced by an American automaker in more than 20 years. Under the hood is a new 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine that is both powerful and fuel-efficient. The pushrod operated 16-valve V8 engine pumps out 340 hp at 5,000 rpm and 390 ground-shaking lbs. ft. of torque at just 4,000 rpm. The new HEMI V8 is the industry's first V8 engine with a Multiple Displacement System. The MDS seamlessly alternates between smooth, high-fuel economy four-cylinder mode when less power is needed, and eight-cylinder mode when more power is in demand. This system increases fuel economy 20 percent with EPA mileage specs of 17mpg/city and 25mpg/highway, which is outstanding for a 4,000 pound sedan. The HEMI V8 is mated to Chrysler's new five-speed automatic transmission that comes with AutoStick manual shift mode. AutoStick lets you hold your chosen gear all the way up to redline for even quicker acceleration and de-acceleration. The 300C will accelerate to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.8 seconds and cover to the quarter mile in just 14.3 second at 98.6 mph. All Chrysler 300s come with rear-wheel-drive. An all-wheel-drive is available on the 250 hp SXT model and 300C. By driving continuously through all four wheels, the AWD system provides excellent cornering balance under all driving conditions and better traction in snow and wet weather. Combined with all-speed traction control and electronic stability control (ESP), performance and stability are outstanding under all traction conditions. I would recommend the AWD system if you drive in snow for many months of the year.

The ride is smooth and controlled thanks to a unique, fully independent suspension. Up front is a Short/Long Arm setup with a high-mounted upper 'A' arm, coil springs over gas-charged shocks and a stabilizer bar. The unique rear suspension is a five-link setup with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, and a link-type stabilizer bar in a separate suspension cradle. Nivo-Mat self-leveling rear shocks are optional. The ride is luxury car smooth, even over poorly paved roads. When the spirit of the HEMI V8 power arouses you, you can speed around curving roads with no problem as this fully independent suspension hugs the roads with little body lean as all-four big 18X7.5 polished aluminum wheels that are wrapped by 225/60R18 Continental 'Contac' performance radials, easily grip the road surface for excellent control. It feels as if you are carving through the air, staying true on track. The power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is a perfect match for the 300. It gives you an excellent feel for the road with very good on-center feel and quick reaction to your inputs. Slowing the 300C down from speed are big, steel disc brakes that are vented at each wheel for optimum fade-resistance. Up front are 13.6-inch discs clamped with a dual-piston caliper, while the rear discs measure 12.6 inches and are clamped with a single-piston caliper. Stopping is enhanced with ABS and Brake Assist. Braking distance from 60mph to 0mph is a very good 122ft. for a 4,000lb. sedan, but I would like to see four-piston calipers all around for superior braking power. The unique interior of the 300C is roomy, elegant, comfortable, ergonomic, quite, and safe. The doors open wide for easy entry and exit. The leather surfaces in my 300C test vehicle were soft and luxurious. The driver's-side bucket seat was power-adjustable 12-ways with lumbar support while the passenger front bucket seat featured 10-way adjustments. Each front bucket seat was very comfortable and very supportive. The four-spoke, power tilt/telescoping, leather wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hands, has a unique tortoise-shell top to it. This unique steering wheel also comes with controls for the audio system and driver information computer. The tortoise-shell accents are also found on each door pull and on the leather topped chrome shift knob located on the center console. No other sedan uses tortoise-shell, and it further gives proof to the 300 being so unique amongst full-size performance luxury sedans.

The T-shaped dashboard is both elegant and simple. The center stack has aluminum trim around it and contains big, easy to use, chrome accented dials and for the electronic climate control system. Just above are controls for the optional, 380-watt, AM-FM stereo, six-disc CD player with six Boston Acoustics Speakers and subwoofer. This is the first time that Boston Acoustics speakers are available from the factory in a full-size sedan. The Chrysler analog clock is very elegant and placed at the top of the stack. The elegant instrument cluster is straight ahead, very easy to see and understand. The 160 mph speedometer, 7,000 rpm tachometer, fuel gauge and engine coolant temperature gauges are white faced with black lettering and surrounded by a chrome bezel. In between the large speedo and tach is a LED readout screen with information about which gear is selected, time, compass direction, outside temperature, any hazards detected, radio station selection, etc. Each door has a perfectly placed armrest and a full-length chrome strip that meets the chrome door handle. Each door also has a storage pocket. The front center console has the controls for the front heated seats, then a small, pop-out, storage bin, the chrome gated shifter, a storage slot to the right of the stick, followed by dual cupholders. The center console ends with a deep center storage bin with a padded top. Amenities in the rear include air-vents at the rear of the center bin, pull-down center arm rest with dual cupholders, reading lamps, and grab handles with clothing hooks. The rear seats are also split 40/60 for expanding the cargo-carrying capacity of the already big trunk. You can really take the 300 for long trips and vacations because it is so comfortable, powerful and safe.

Standard equipment in the 300C, not already mentioned, include the antenna integrated into the rear window, rear window defroster, rain-sensitive, variable-speed windshield wipers, power accessory delay, power windows, door locks with front windows power down/up, two memory settings for the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, seat, and mirrors, speed-sensitive door locks, cruiser-control, security alarm with keyless entry/exit, Home-Link Universal garage door opener, power-remote/heated/self-dimming/tilting-in-reverse, side mirrors, electro-chromic rearview mirror, front/rear floor mats, power trunk-lid release, and solar-control glass. Options include an electric moonroof, and navigation. You are kept safe driving in the all-new 300 with standard advanced multi-stage front airbags, supplemental side-curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts for each seat with pretenioners and load-limiters up front, crush zones and stiffeners engineered into the body to absorb energy, energy-absorbing steering column, steel beams in each door, child seat anchor system, and optional, self-sealing radial tires. While GM and Ford are giving you just enough, Chrysler is giving you more. More unique styling, more power, more performance, more room, more luxury, a more total package that hasn't been seen in America, by an American auto company, in a long, long time, and at a price that is incredibly low - many thousands of dollars less than the competiton! The Chrysler 300 is the hottest selling sedan in the country right now and Chrysler has scheduled 17,000 units to be built each month. If you want to drive one of the best sedans on the road, then you better hurry and put your order in because these models are going fast, very fast.

© All aforementioned text and photos by Harvey Schwartz SIDEBAR COMMENT This is truly one of the great bargains of the year. Where else can you get a rear-wheel drive car with full-independent suspension based on the Mercedes E-Class, and a 'Hemi' engine for under $35,000? Okay, the Dodge Magnum can deliver the same, but it's rearward visibility is a bit frightening. We think the 300C has good visibility - at least for lane changes. The ride is firmer than an isolation chamber, but the mighty V8 reaps rewards when zipping in and out of traffic. - Roy Nakano For more information on Chrysler products, go to www.chrysler.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 Chrysler 300C Price of vehicle: $32,370.00 base price, $34,425.00 as tested with destination charge Engine type: 90-degree, V type, pushrod operated 16 valve, OHV, deep skirt, cast-iron block with cross-bolted main bearing caps, aluminum alloy heads Horsepower: 340 at 5,000 rpm Torque: 390 lb.ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: 5-speed electronically controlled OD, AutoStick semi-manual mode Front suspension: Independent, SLA with high-mounted upper 'A' arm, coil springs over gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: 5-link independent with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, link-type stabilizer bar in an isolated suspension cradle. Nivo-Mat self-leveling shocks optional Wheels/tires: 18X7.5 chrome-clad aluminum wheels/P225/60R18. Continental 'Contac' all-season radial tires Brakes: Front: 13.6 in. vented discs with a dual-piston caliper Rear: 12.6 in. vented discs with a single-piston caliper ABS and Brake Assist Overall length: 196.8 in. Overall width: 74.1 in. Overall height: 58.4 in. Curb weight: 4,066 lbs. EPA mileage estimates: 17 mpg/city, 25 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 5.8 sec.

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