Chrysler 300


Debut: 2004
Maker: Chrysler
Predecessor: LH-series



 Published on 7 Jul 2004
All rights reserved. 
The outgoing Chrysler LH-platform cars (Chrysler 300M, Concorde, LHS and Dodge Intrepid) were always remembered for their sharp, coupe-like look. They were the best examples of Tom Gale’s "cab-forward" designs. However, since Daimler-Benz bought the company in 1998, everything was changed. Not only the American company started using Mercedes parts and engineering know-how, but its styling theme was also changed. You can see that from the trio of new cars - Crossfire, Pacifica and now, 300. These cars have a common styling philosophy - conservative profile for easy engineering, radical details to suit American taste. The "cab-forward" design has become memory, replaced by conventional long bonnet and near-vertical windscreen. This wind-blocking shape is especially obvious in Chrysler 300. (BTW, Chrysler won’t tell us the aerodynamic drag figure.) Myself is not a fan of this bulldog-like styling, but undeniably it has huge presence to observers.

The new platform is now called LX. It gives birth to Chrysler 300 (the sedan), Dodge Magnum (the wagon) and probably a new age Dodge Charger in the future. The Chrysler 300 installed with V8 engines are called 300C, leaving the name 300 for V6 versions.

The LX is very, very large. Measuring 5 meters in length and 3 meters-plus in wheelbase, it matches any European limousines. Its direct competitor is actually a class or 2 smaller. Take a Volvo S80 for comparison, you will find the Chrysler monster is 177mm longer, 51mm wider and 49mm taller, while the wheelbase is a massive 257mm longer ! this also implies its modern, non-American-like proportion with long wheelbase and rather short overhangs. By keeping it just 1 mm short of the 5-meters mark, its chance for selling in European market is survived.

Now one thing is interesting: while the outgoing LH platform was driven by front wheels, the LX employs Mercedes-style rear-wheel drive. As we all know the benefit of RWD to handling and driving pleasure, this must be a good news. The question is: how can Chrysler afford the extra cost? the answer is easy: parts sharing with Mercedes-Benz and borrowing its experience.

The LX cars employ various parts from Mercedes E-class, such as the 5-speed automatic gearbox, the rear differential, ESP system, the double-wishbones front and 5-link rear suspensions. However, to reduce cost Chrysler converted suspension parts from aluminum to steel. American engines are also cheaper to build, so Chrysler continues employing the LH’s 2.7-litre V6 (190hp) and 3.5-litre V6 (250hp), plus a new generation "Hemi" 5.7-litre pushrod V8.

For a car weighing 1.7 ton, even the 3.5 V6 is not going to provide performance matching a typical 3.0-litre European executive car. This is not helped by the use of 4-speed automatic (the Mercedes 5-speed unit is reserved for V8). Don’t expect ultra refinement for this somewhat outdated engine / transmission combo either, as it is basically a bread-and-butter design.

All these reasons make the Hemi V8 more attractive. Yes, it is very heavy due to the cast-iron block, it is a pushrodder, but it is an all-new design, employing twin-spark plugs and cylinder deactivation technology like Mercedes’ V8 and V12. When the car doesn’t need full power, it will automatically deactivate 4 of the 8 cylinders by shutting valves and disabling fuel injection and ignition. This save a bit fuel. When the car needs full power, Hemi can deliver 340 horses at 5000rpm and 390 pound-foot of torque at 4000rpm, enough to push the car to 60mph in less than 6 seconds.

Despite of such performance, Chrysler 300C is not actually a performance sedan like BMW 545i. It is too big and heavy for that. In fact, Chrysler installed it with 60% aspect ratio tires, showing it has no intention to market it against performance sedans. We had better see it as a regular sedan with extra low-end grunt as a bonus. Another bonus of the V8 is its smoothness and great sound.

With rear-wheel-drive and better weight distribution (54:46 for the V8), the LX platform of course handles better than its predecessor. Body control, grip, steering and ride are reasonably good by European standard. Not up to the level of BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar of course, but it won’t feel shame against other European executive sedans such as Volvo and Audi. The tuning is very European-like, with heavy steering in particular. In terms of refinement, the Chrysler 300 has improved a lot from its the LH. Its chassis feels solid and wind noise insulation is effective. Only sharp bump absorption let it down.

Inside, the 300 offers unrivalled space in the class - actually more than most people need. 5 big guys can sit comfortably as in any luxurious limousines 3 times the price. Unluckily, the dashboard design is workman-like rather than out of thinking-man’s taste, lack of any elegant feel. The plastic materials are lifted from LH, but not up to international level yet, obviously a class lower than Pacifica.

Chrysler wants to sell 240,000 units of 300 and Dodge Magnum each year. This seems feasible for the North American market. However, for most other countries these big, thirsty monsters can only be sold as niches. To me, buying a smaller, handsomer, more efficient and more elegantly engineered executive cars seems a better bet.
Verdict:
 Published on 27 Apr 2005
All rights reserved. 
Chrysler 300C SRT-8
From the exterior, you can hardly tell this is SRT-8. Performance Chryslers used to look wild, usually wilder than the performance they deliver. But today Chrysler is controlled by German who prefer huge performance in low profile – look at those 500-horsepower Mercedes and you know. That's why the “Street, Road and Track with 8-cylinder” version of Chrysler 300C differs from the regular car by just bigger wheels, wider tires, a slightly deeper chin spoiler, a pair of additional air intakes at the front bumper and a tiny tail spoiler.

That's only the look, of course. When you open the bonnet, A-Ha, this is where it make the big difference. Instead of the ugly plastic engine cover, you will see 8 long metal intake manifolds resting in the V-valley, either side is a cam cover with the word “HEMI” and a red “6.1L”. This is the hottest version of the HEMI V8. Chrysler bored it out to 6059 cc, increased compression ratio from 9.6 to 10.3:1, employed larger valves, higher flow intake manifolds, ports and exhaust, lighter hollow valve stems, stronger forged steel crankshaft, stronger connecting rods... as a result, the 6.1 HEMI is more eager to rev. It pumps out 425 horsepower at 6200 rpm, far more than the 5.7 HEMI's 340 hp at 5700 rpm. This translate to a multi-valve-engine-like specific output of 70 hp per litre, even higher than Chevrolet Corvette's LS2 engine !

Predictably, the big V8 is immensely torquey. As much as 420 lbft is available at 4800 rpm. It pushes the 1910 kg monster from standstill to 60 mph in merely 4.9 seconds and to 100 mph in an Evo-beating 11.5 seconds. Remember, it does this with a 5-speed automatic gearbox !

Not only performance, the SRT-8 is also strong at handling. Modifications to the chassis include lower ride height (by half an inch), stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars, jumbo-size (20-inch) alloy wheels, very wide tires (245/45ZR front and 255/40ZR rear) and very powerful Brembo brakes (360mm front, 350mm rear, with 4-piston calipers). What it lacks are those excessive electronic trickeries which often ruin driving fun.

SRT-8 is an honest driving machine. It corners with immense grip and rock-steady body control. The brakes are powerful and fade-free. Steering is weighty and confidence inspiring. It responds keenly to driver input. Unlike the regular, softer riding 300C, it feels far smaller than it is, giving the driver enough confidence to tackle the twisties. Inevitably, the ride is firm but never punishing, and noticeably smoother than Cadillac CTS-V. Chrysler has done a great job !

However, the most brilliant is that they do this without costing your fortune. In the USA, the SRT-8 is sold at just US$40,000, considerably cheaper than BMW M3 (US$47,000 and leanly equipped), Cadillac CTS-V (US$50,000), BMW M5 (US$80,000) and Mercedes E55 AMG (US$80,000). That actually put it at a lower price segment. In this way, the big Chrysler can easily storm the field by its strong performance and driver-delighted handling. The only reservation is fuel consumption, especially now the 6.1 engine has lost the cylinder cutoff technology in favour of lighter valvetrain. Otherwise we can hardly think of any reason not to love the SRT-8. Chrysler has finally created a winner.
Verdict:
 Published on 1 Feb 2011
All rights reserved. 
Chrysler 300 facelift (2011)


Having went through the refreshed Dodge Charger, Challenger and Chrysler 200, we are coming to the last puzzle of Chrysler's 2011 product update campaign – the flagship Chrysler 300. Frankly, the old 300 had few things wrong. Its brash, flamboyant design is still iconic today. Its underpinning was engineered in the DaimlerChrysler era with strong inputs from Germany, so it sported a rear-drive chassis, multi-link suspensions and Mercedes gearbox for decent dynamics. Its home-grown HEMI V8 even guaranteed great performance and sound. Nevertheless, after soldiering for nearly 7 years, it badly needed a refresh. So what has Chrysler done to it ?

To make it appear new to consumers, Chrysler has reworked its exterior styling quite extensively. Gone is the old car's bold and muscular styling theme, replaced with a much softer, more civilized style. A rounder radiator grille might be somewhat out of place with the rest of the body, but the sleeker headlamps with high-tech-feeling LED elements do make it classier. A faster angle windscreen contributes to a sleeker profile and fuels the debate that whether this is a facelift or a new generation. Slimmer A-pillars improve visibility and deliver a sense of user friendliness for the first time. The new 300 looks more in harmony with human, society and environment, a world away from the old car.



Even bigger change is the interior. Say goodbye to the old car's blocky design and shinny hard plastics. They have been replaced with a modern layout made of soft-touch plastics and good-looking faux alloys. A more sophisticated ambience is realized by cyber-blue backlit gauges and large LCD touch-screen. Touch the buttons and switchgears and they give the same tactile feel as European executive cars. Better quality leather trim is used on steering wheel, door panels, seats and arm rest. On the move, you will notice the much improved noise insulation, which makes the cabin quiet on highway cruising. The combination of soft suspensions and long wheelbase delivers a supple ride, too.

The chassis has received relatively less attention, but it still gets retuned suspensions for better handling. Grip and body control are slightly improved as a result. On the other hand, new electrohydraulic steering seems to be more precise, although it is still short of feel. Anyway, the updated 300 is easier to place on narrow roads than imagined, especially with the lighter V6 at its nose. For a car so large, it is surprisingly agile.



Talking about V6, the new 3.6-liter Pentastar with all-alloy construction and dual-VVT is undoubtedly a considerable improvement from the old 3.5-liter unit, thanks to a 42 horsepower boost and a positive attitude to rev. However, it is not particularly torque low down. To get the large car passing slower traffic you will need to keep the V6 boiling at the upper end of its rev range. The aging Mercedes 5-speed auto tranny doesn't help in this respect, too. Fortunately, by the end of this year a world-class transmission will arrive – guess what ? ZF 8-speed automatic !

Compare with the Pentastar V6, the carried over 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is less sensible for environment and your wallet. However, with mountains of bottom-end torque, hence an effortless acceleration from rest to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, we can understand why it has plenty of fans in the America. I suspect, given cheaper fuel price and wider road space, European motorists could take this car over their turbo diesel Mondeo or Passat. (note: the new 300 will be offered in Europe, but it will be rebadged as Lancia Thema and come with diesel engine instead.)



Overall, the updated 300 is the best effort among all the refreshed models recently launced by Chrysler. While its softer new look may not be as iconic as the old one, its much upgraded interior quality, driving refinement and base V6 engine complement the fine chassis and V8 power of the original car. Bettering Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus by far, it is the best American big car you can buy.
Verdict:
 Published on 23 Nov 2011
All rights reserved. 
Chrysler 300 SRT8 6.4


The old Chrysler 300 SRT-8 was one of the few highlights of the American motor industry. It was probably the only Detroit product – well, although it was actually built in Canada – that earned five stars and topped its segment in the 14 years history of AutoZine. Its success could be attributed to a few important factors, namely, Detroit muscles, a Mercedes-derived chassis, American-size accommodation and affordable price. No one else came close to its bland of these merits. European sports sedans are unquestionably more refined and elegant, but they either ask for absurd money or fail to accommodate five full-size adults. Moreover, I actually love the in-your-face styling of the old 300, SRT-8 or not. It made all those M-cars or S-cars understated in comparison.

The new 300 SRT8 is no longer as outstanding as before, because the makeover introduced earlier this year has softened its appearance a lot. A mesh grille is supposed to lift its image above the regular 300C, but the visual effect is unconvincing. Same story for the 7-spoke alloy wheels, which is nowhere as stylish as the ones on sister car Dodge Charger SRT8 (see below). Just as before, the SRT8 differs just slightly from lesser models, so my dislike of the latter's looks extend to the hot version as well.


The biggest news is the new 6.4-liter Hemi V8. It comes intact from Challenger SRT8. Not only features a slightly larger displacement, it has added variable valve timing to its sole camshaft, variable length intake manifolds and cylinder deactivation technology
the latter is shared with the 5.7-liter version on 300C. As a result, EPA highway consumption is improved from 19 mpg to 23 mpg. Horsepower is lifted from 425 to 470, while torque is improved by 50 lbft to 470 lbft. Again, it offers more "bang for the buck" than anything else in its price segment.

While it is not quite M5-quick, the Chrysler muscle car can sprint from rest to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and get to the ton (100 mph) in just over 10 seconds. The latter is nearly 2 seconds quicker than its closest rivals Audi S4 and BMW 335i M Sport. Its top speed is now a remarkable 175 mph, although that is less relevant to the drivers in America. The rumble of its pushrod V8 is also a distinctive advantage over its six-cylinder rivals in our ears. No matter from the noise or g-force, its performance seems to be in another league.




In fact, the bottom-end torque is so strong that each downshift sends a violent shock to the occupants, ruining refinement. This has to blame the carried over 5-speed automatic which has yet to learn how to handle the new-found torque from the 6.4-liter engine. It cries for the regular car's ZF 8-speed box. In principle there is no technical difficulty to fit that transmission, as many of its applications on BMW and Audi are torquer still. We don't understand why Chrysler failed to equip it from the outset. Undoubtedly, the old transmission is the Achilles' heel of this car.

Compare to the old car, changes to the chassis are quite subtle. It still employs good old hydraulic steering and large Brembo brakes like the old car. The only new item is Bilstein ADS electronic adaptive dampers. Like the Skyhook suspensions on Maserati, it offers continuous adjustment to damping stiffness according to speed, g-force and road conditions, and on the top of that the driver can select either Comfort or Sport mode to further tailor the handling to his liking. In reality, the Sport mode is so harsh that only glass-smooth highways are suitable. Anyway, the new SRT8 displays a slightly more refined ride and less understeer than before. It still understeers into corner, but you can easily induce power slide through the throttle pedal. As long as the road is wide enough, the SRT8 is going to entertain like an M3 !

However, that entertaining character may not be a surprise to owners of the old car. What the new car has really taken a quantum leap is quality and refinement. Better sound insulation surrounding the cabin reduces noises a lot. Soft-touch plastics, better fit and finish, high-tech instruments and touch-screen infotainment system make the cabin far more desirable. If not the poor transmission integration, we could have given the SRT8 another 5-star rating.
Verdict:
 Published on 26 Nov 2011
All rights reserved. 
Lancia Thema


Lancia has long been a headache to Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne. The falling brand sold only 100,000 to 120,000 cars annually in the past decade. That is not enough to sustain its product development. While its small cars (Ypsilon, Musa and Delta) can be easily derived from Fiat platforms, its large car is more problematic. Marchionne failed to make a business case for the replacement of Thesis. It was supposed to share platform with the future large Alfa Romeo (successor to 166), but given the dismal sales record of Thesis, Kappa and 166, any rational person can reach the conclusion that the combined volume of both Lancia and Alfa would not be enough to justify the development of a new platform. As a result, the replacement programs of both cars have been delayed. Following the acquisition of Chrysler group, Marchionne came up with a new idea for its brands to help each other – in mainland Europe, the Chrysler large cars will be rebadged as Lancia for sale. In UK, where Lancia has been absence for nearly two decades, the Lancia small cars will be rebadged as Chrysler. This could boost the presence of both brands without costly development.

So the new Lancia Thema is actually a rebadged Chrysler 300. It even spent no time to restyle the car (except a new grille with the Lancia badge) as its twin sister won't be available in the same market anyway. Moreover, I suspect no restyle can hide its American origin, thanks to that muscle-car-meet-a-brick shape. Same story for the interior, where a Lancia-badged steering wheel is the only difference. When you are short of money, you have no room to talk about brand identity.

Engine lineup is different from the Chrysler. The 3.6 Pentastar V6 is still there, although rated at 286 hp instead of 292 hp. Hemi V8 is abandoned as no European will buy it anyway. Taking its space is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 supplied by VM Motori. This engine has been serving European Chrysler and Jeep for some time. It produces either 190hp or 239hp. The high power version is accompanied with 406 lbft of torque, so real-world performance is not as poor as its power-to-weight ratio might suggest. In fact, the diesel motor is pretty good, being refined and delicious to ears. Only a slight turbo lag separates it from the best diesel engines offered by German maker.

That said, Lancia Thema is going to face a hard time against the likes of Audi A6, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF in Europe, not only because it is not as well built and well rounded, but it is not cheap enough to justify its badge and its American origin.
Verdict:
 Published on 23 Dec 2014
All rights reserved. 
Chrysler 300 facelift (2015)


It’s nearly 4 years since Chrysler 300 got facelifted last time, and its basic design is now over 10 years old. Somehow, Fiat Chrysler wants to keep it soldiering for a few more years, so it has given the car yet another facelift. The 2015 model has lost the high-performance SRT8 due to low demand (sigh!), but the mass production V6 and V8 Hemi models have been refreshed inside and outside. Most obvious is a larger mesh front grille, which corrects the fault of the last facelift, if not sufficient to bring back the presence of the 2004 car – scroll up and make you own judgment. Inside, the instrument pod now features blue-lit electro-luminescent gauges and a 7-inch color LCD between them. On the center console, the touchscreen is upgraded to 8.4-inch. The gear selector is converted to a rotary knob like Jaguar, and it is supplemented with paddles at the steering column. The new steering wheel (from Chrysler 200) is more stylish and nicer to hold in your hands. Build quality and tech features have been consistently improved over the years. Now the slogan “Imported from Detroit” is no longer deceiving.



On the mechanical side, modifications are subtle but nonetheless effective. The 3.6-liter V6 on sportier model 300S gets cold-air intake duct and lower backpressure exhaust, boosting output by 8 hp to 300 hp. The 5.7-liter pushrod V8 is kept unchanged, but it now pairs with ZF 8-speed automatic instead of the old Mercedes-derived 5-speeder. Its fastest shift time in manual mode is reduced from 400 to 250 ms, which helps the car feeling more responsive in acceleration, and the extra ratios help improving fuel economy a bit. Besides, the 300 has its steering switched from electro-hydraulic to rack-mounted electric motor assistance. It doesn’t downgrade steering feel because the old rack had little anyway, but it improves on precision and weighting. Also new is a Sport mode which alters the steering, gearshift and throttle response. It makes the 300 feels less bulky than before. The 300S model with stiffer suspensions, 20-inch wheels and fat rubbers especially highlight the new found agility, while the 300C remains a comfortable tourer. The big Chrysler sedan is no BMW, not possible for something this large and heavy, but its rear-drive chassis still holds a decisive edge over Japanese or Korean front-drive near-luxury cars resting at the same price level. Moreover, it looks and feels unique. This is not going to be changed no matter how many more facelifts are to be introduced.

Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Chrysler 300
2004
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4999 / 1881 / 1483 mm
3048 mm
V6, 60-degree
3518 cc
SOHC 24 valves
VIM
-
250 hp
250 lbft
4-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
225/60WR18

1708 kg
136 mph (c)
7.3** / 7.6***
20.4** / 20.1***
Chrysler 300C
2004
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4999 / 1881 / 1483 mm
3048 mm
V8, 90-degree
5654 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
Twin-spark, cylinder cut-off
340 hp
390 lbft
5-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
225/60WR18

1835 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.6* / 5.3**
13.8* / 13.4**
Chrysler 300C SRT-8
2005
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4999 / 1881 / 1470 mm
3048 mm
V8, 90-degree
6059 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
Twin-spark
425 hp
420 lbft
5-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
F: 245/45ZR20
R: 255/40ZR20
1910 kg
165 mph (limited)
4.9* / 4.7**
11.5* / 11.2**




Performance tested by: *R&T, **C&D, ***MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission

Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)
Chrysler 300
2011
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5044 / 1902 / 1485 mm
3052 mm
V6, 60-degree
3605 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
-
292 hp
260 lbft
5-speed automatic
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
225/60WR18
1817 kg
150 mph (est)
5A: 7.2**
8A: 6.6*
8A: 16.5*
Chrysler 300C
2011
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5044 / 1902 / 1492 mm
3052 mm
V8, 90-degree
5654 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
Twin-spark, cylinder cut-off
363 hp
394 lbft
5-speed automatic

F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
245/45WR20
1937 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.9* / 5.5**

14.8* / 13.6**
Chrysler 300 SRT8
2011
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5088 / 1886 / 1480 mm
3052 mm
V8, 90-degree
6410 cc
OHV 16 valves, VVT
VIM
Twin-spark, cylinder cut-off
470 hp / 6000 rpm
470 lbft / 4300 rpm
5-speed automatic

F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45ZR20
1980 kg
175 mph (c)
4.4* / 4.5***

10.3* / 10.6***




Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT, ***R&T





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Lancia Thema 3.0CRD
2011
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5066 / 1902 / 1488 mm
3052 mm
V6, 60-degree, diesel
2987 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
239 hp
406 lbft
5-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
245/45R20
1963 kg
143 mph (c)
7.4 (c) / 7.3*
21.1*
Chrysler 300S V6
2015
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5044 / 1902 / 1485 mm
3052 mm
V6, 60-degree
3605 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
-
300 hp
264 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
245/45WR20
1827 kg
150 mph (est)
6.3**
16.1**
Chrysler 300C V8
2015
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5044 / 1902 / 1492 mm
3052 mm
V8, 90-degree
5654 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
Twin-spark, cylinder cut-off
363 hp
394 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
245/45WR20
1962 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.3**
12.8**




Performance tested by: *Autocar, **C&D





AutoZine Rating

Chrysler 300


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