The Chrysler 300 has been around in many guises since the 1950s, but most models on sale today are of the modern style, which came to market in 2005. Introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2003 and hitting dealerships almost two years later, the 300 is responsible for reviving the fortunes of Chrysler in Australia.
The 300 sits firmly in the large family car category. It is based on the platform of the rear-wheel drive Chrysler LX, and it shares a number of features and components with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class. The standard model is a good-sized sedan, though the first generation (2005 to 2011) is also available as a station wagon.
The retro styling is popular in some circles, but it is largely agreed that the styling of the later generation model is slicker and pitches the Chrysler 300 more strongly against the competition. The 300 gives a good impression of being a more expensive car than it is, especially in its more recent guise, making it a popular choice for those in the market for a generously-sized family car. The ride quality is excellent, the cabin is quiet, and, aside from some headroom limitations in the rear, there is plenty of space for five full-grown adults to travel in comfort.
At launch in 2005 the basic Chrysler 300 (renamed LX in 2008) came with a 2.736-litre V6 engine that gave 140kW of power. Other models included the Touring, which had station wagon format and came with a 3.5-litre V6 engine with 190kW of power, and the Limited, which came with the same engine and a higher level of finish. Both models came with either a 4- or 5-speed transmission.
The 2008 through 2011 300C models feature a Mercedes-Benz 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine that produces 160kW of power and 510Nm of torque. Considerably less thirsty than its later petrol counterpart, the 300C diesel swallows some 8.98L/100km around town. This consumption falls to a highly respectable 5.5 L/100km on the open road though. All this considered, its top speed was 230km/h.
The 2011 redesign, available in the Australian market in 2012, saw the end of the station wagon, cosmetic changes to the sedan, and some changes under the bonnet, too. The 2.7-litre and 2.5-litre V6 petrol engines were replaced by a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 giving 218kW of power and 350Nm of torque. A 3.0-litre turbo diesel Fiat engine also became available at that time.
Post 2011, the top-of-the-range model in the Chrysler 300-series is the 300C, which boasts a 5.7-litre V8 engine with a nifty option to run the engine on just four of the cylinders when less power is necessary, thereby reducing fuel consumption. Drivers could expect to use 16L/100km around town, with that number dropping to 10L/100km out on the open road, so the 4-cylinder option is certainly a benefit. The 300C does offer the power to match, though, getting up to 250kW of power and 530Nm of torque when firing on eight cylinders. The standard gearbox is a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The 2005 base model comes with 17-inch wheels, wheel covers, and 4-wheel disc brakes as standard kit. Chrysler 300 owners from this year had the convenience of an MP3 player, auxiliary jack, and a power driver’s seat inside. Touring models from the same period benefitted from the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to aid the drive, remote keyless entry, seats trimmed with leather, and a satellite radio. The 2009 and 2010 Touring models were known as the Touring Plus. The Limited model from this era features anti-roll bars, 18-inch chrome-clad aluminium wheels, and heated seats.
The redesigned 300 model from 2011 featured an all-new body and some smart restyling, keeping the 300C suitably fresh enough to feature highly on the buyers’ shortlist, but it does not include a station wagon option. It did boast bi-xenon projector headlights and new front and rear light formats, as well as a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, which offered twice as much visibility inside to out as a standard sunroof. Other standard kit includes 20-inch wheels outside, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, and a centre console. Seat-mounted and side curtain airbags all came as standard in these models as well.
The Chrysler 300 is a good-sized family car, offering attractive styling, a comfortable and spacious cabin and plenty of poke beneath the bonnet. It is pitched strongly against two of the more fuel-efficient family/fleet staples – the Holden Commodore, which brought 270kW of power and 520Nm of torque, and the Ford Falcon, which brought a meagre 195kW of power and 391Nm of torque. The newer 300 is even more affordable than its predecessor, and yet offers a higher level of refinement and power than before.