The Chrysler 300 just keeps making comebacks. A proud and prestigious vehicle during the 1950s, the 300 fell into anonymity during the ’60s and then disappeared from the automotive landscape for more than 30 years. For the mid-2000s, though, Chrysler introduced its new 300, and was an immediate hit thanks to its retro-inspired styling, powerful V8 engines, rear-wheel drive and refined road manners. Consumer interest did start to wane after a few years, but Chrysler is going for another comeback this year with a redesigned 300 that features a more powerful base V6 and a higher-quality interior.
Current Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 is a large five-passenger sedan with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It’s been designed to appeal to consumers desiring something with a bit more personality than a regular family sedan or as an alternative to popular Japanese or European entry-luxury sedans. The 300’s styling is unmistakably American, though with an added dash of refinement after its 2011 redesign. The large chrome grille, bejeweled headlights, high beltline, bulging fenders and big wheels give it a strong presence on the road. A long 120-inch wheelbase shortens up the front and rear overhangs and opens up plenty of occupant space on the inside.
There are six trim levels: base, Limited, 300S V6, 300C, 300 S V8 and SRT8. The first three come with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower. The base model comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission. An eight-speed automatic that’s standard on all other V6 models is optional. The 300C and 300S V8 get a 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 that produces 363 hp. The SRT8 has a 6.3-liter, 470-hp V8. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on all but the base and SRT8.
Standard equipment includes niceties like automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, automatic dual-zone climate control, a power driver seat and a small touchscreen interface. Moving up to the Limited or 300C nets you (among other things) a rearview camera, heated front seats, Bluetooth and an upgraded sound system. The S gets unique styling elements, an upgraded electronics interface and a special Beats by Dr. Dre sound system. Many additional features are available to make the 300 just as luxurious and well-equipped as luxury sedans that cost thousands more. This is especially true of the SRT8, which comes standard with just about everything.
Used Chrysler 300 Models
The current Chrysler 300 dates back to 2011. The second-generation 300 differs significantly. Besides the interior overhaul, the structure has been stiffened, the steering is now electrically assisted and the suspension has been recalibrated for better ride quality and more composed handling. Chrysler also added an abundance of sound-deadening materials to create one of the quietest cabins on the road. In its first year, only the base, Limited and 300C trims were available, and a five-speed automatic was standard across the board. The S and SRT8 trims arrived a year later along with the V6’s eight-speed auto.
The previous-generation Chrysler 300 was produced from 2005-’10. It had the same general shape and design theme as the current car, and even shared the same platform, but there are countless differences used car buyers should be aware of. In general, the interior wasn’t nearly as well-crafted, the driving experience wasn’t as refined and the two V6 engine choices were unimpressive.
The base car (known either as LX or Touring depending on the year) came with a 2.7-liter V6 that produced only 178 hp. This was insufficient for such a large car, and its fuel economy was poor. Stepping up to a higher trim level got you a 3.5-liter V6 with a more impressive 250 hp, though acceleration was still pretty mediocre. To make matters worse, both came with a four-speed automatic.
Changes other than the ones mentioned above were mild for the first-generation 300C. The most significant occurred for ’08, when Chrysler updated the interior and navigation and entertainment systems. Front-seat side airbags also joined side curtain airbags on the option list that year, so make sure to check if a used 300 is equipped as such.