Upon its addition in 2004, the 2005 Chrysler 300 full-size auto became the force abaft the abatement company’s turnaround. It was big and roomy, it offered all-wheel drive and a huge Hemi V-8 as options, and in the eyes of abounding it looked like a Bentley. (If you’re activity to arrangement your affordable car afterwards addition brand, Bentley turns out to be a acceptable way to go.) Interest in the 300 and the Hemi-equipped 300C had already amorphous to abate back gas prices began their celebrated climb, and that appealing abounding concluded the party. A barbarous sales climate, aged cast name and airy gas prices notwithstanding, the 300/300C is one of Chrysler’s arch products, but the tweaks it’s accustomed for 2009 aren’t abounding to adapt it for an uptick in antagonism from the cast of a redesigned Ford Taurus.
The exoteric change for 2009 is a new grille architecture for the SRT8 model. Replacing the waffle-pattern is a chain-link orientation, basically an interwoven-wire-mesh look. It’s not absolutely fabricated of alloyed metal, but the smoked-chrome accomplishment makes it attending bigger to me than the bright-chromed artificial grille I’ve criticized, ironically, on Bentley’s Continental. The exoteric is contrarily the same, but for the moonroof now actuality accepted and a new Water Blue Bright Coat acrylic advantage that replaces the antecedent Steel Blue. Admitting it’s unchanged, the SRT8 analysis includes bonanza and side-sill extensions and beyond vents to air-conditioned the red-painted Brembo brakes. Chrysler alone the roof-mounted mini-whip antenna by affective FM accession duties to the rear window, yet our car had two cruddy atramentous accessory antennae — one abreast the advanced of the roof, one abreast the rear — as appropriate by the alternative Sirius TV receiver.
Not your accustomed 300 or 300C, the 300C SRT8 has an alike larger, 6.1-liter adaptation of the 300C’s Hemi V-8. Where the 5.7-liter puts out 360 horsepower, the 6.1-liter generates 425 hp, which is acceptable for zero-to-60 mph times aloof aloft 5 seconds. It wasn’t continued ago that this seemed mind-bogglingly fast for a assembly car; it isn’t so abounding anymore, but it’s still an account in such a ample sedan. As for the sound, it’s an ear-opener: If you like the complete of a V-8 at abounding boil, you’re activity to like this one. Assurance me. Fortunately, it’s not actual advancing during accustomed driving.
The 300’s two-door cousin, the Dodge Challenger SRT8, now offers a six-speed chiral transmission, but SRT8 versions of the four-door Dodge Charger and the 300 itself alone appear with a five-speed automatic. It’s an able manual that accouterment calmly beneath ablaze dispatch and absolutely back you’re on a tear. Unfortunately, a 1 mpg artery breadth advance seems to accept appear from manual programming changes, and as a aftereffect it’s abounding beneath acceptable to bang bottomward back you goose the pedal a bit. If anything, in antecedent years it was unnecessarily sensitive, but if anamnesis serves, the new behavior has swung the alarm appealing far. The new EPA appraisement is 13/19 mpg, and the gas-guzzler tax decreases from $2,100 to $1,700 for 2009. (Remember, this is the SRT8 trim akin only; the 300 auto calendar begins at 18/26 mpg with a V-6 engine, and the 5.7-liter V-8 ante 16/25 mpg with rear-wheel drive, acknowledgment in allotment to cylinder-deactivation technology that was larboard off the 6.1-liter.)
Perhaps Chrysler expects those who adopt to drive in lower apparatus to use the clutchless-manual approach — alleged AutoStick in the Dodge cars — by borer the accessory selector larboard and appropriate to about-face up and down. No sale. I never admired these things to actuate with, and bodies who do will bewail the abridgement of about-face paddles on the council wheel. For what it’s worth, I like the mode’s programming: It holds the accessory you choose, while in the approved car it’s aloof addition way of locking out apparatus aloft a called point, as accepted PRND4321 settings would.
You can’t get all-wheel drive with this trim level, but my car’s Goodyear F1 summer achievement tires accept no agitation appointment the abounding torque from the rear drive auto to the pavement; if the apparent is slippery, accepted absorption ascendancy bliss in and keeps you moving. Changes for 2009 accomplish both this affection and the cyberbanking adherence arrangement feel beneath advancing back they activate. Systems like these accept fabricated rear-drive cars added feasible, if not optimal, in winter climates, but if you’re activity to try it, you’ll appetite to abstain the summer tires, which, as a class, are alarming in algid temps and on snow and ice. (Chrysler wisely agreement them “three-season” tires, which one could altercate all summer tires are.) All-season tires are accepted equipment. Because the summer treads are a no-cost option, you ability additionally accede activity with those and affairs a set of all-season or winter tires on abate wheels. Regardless of the type, the SRT8’s low-series tires put the 20-inch auto at accident on channelled winter roads. Taller sidewalls on abate auto would help.
The rear-wheel drive and a bright accomplishment to administer weight analogously over the advanced and rear auto — including a trunk-mounted array — accord the ample 300 acceptable antithesis overall. It’s absurd to avoid the 4,046-pound barrier weight, but the big engine, upgraded brakes and grippy tires accomplish the SRT8 feel the lightest of all the trim levels. I’ve been afraid in accomplished years by what the car can do on a racetrack — the roadholding, address and controllability — but it’s not the best belly experience. The steering, in particular, provides basal acknowledgment and is in no bustle to acknowledgment to center, on the artery or track, abnormally at lower speeds. The brakes, admitting they do the best important job of endlessly the car, additionally ache asleep in the pedal and don’t acquiesce you to attune anchor burden as able-bodied as some custom anchor systems do.
Chrysler fabricated some abeyance changes to the SRT8 for 2009, too, meant to bland out the ride affection a bit. They assume to accept succeeded, but I never anticipation it was too acrid to actuate with, accustomed the agent type. This has absolutely been a aerial point of all models on this platform, including the Dodge Challenger R/T. Agenda that changes in ride ability be accompanied by administration changes, but I won’t be able to animadversion on how that plays out in the best ambitious affairs until I get the 2009 on a track.
If you appetite to barometer the SRT8’s achievement — be it braking, dispatch or roadholding — Chrysler has chip a Achievement Affectation into the apparatus console amid the capital gauges, in an advantage package. It automatically clocks your times to 60 mph, the eighth-mile and the quarter-mile. It captures braking ambit from any accustomed acceleration and shows g-force in all admonition on a bull’s-eye affectation — autumn aiguille readings for analysis back the active is done. Chrysler didn’t ad-lib this affectionate of computer, but it agitated to accommodate a full-featured one, and for that it deserves plaudits.
The 2009 300 has two things activity for it, and one against. The downside is autogenous quality. The SRT8, in my opinion, makes the best assuming (as you’d hope, accustomed its aerial price). But alike this one has bromidic architecture and some bargain materials. The dashboard is bendable and low-gloss, but the plastics are cheap. Admitting there’s beneath of it than on some lower trim levels, the faux-aluminum trim charcoal on the centermost ascendancy console and on the ever ample and somehow … abhorrent council wheel. In 2004, the 300’s affection was passable. Adjoin the accepted competition, it isn’t alike close. Fortunately, Chrysler is alive on a redesign.
One acceptable affair about the 300 is that it’s roomy, as you’d apprehend from a ample car — admitting its beautiful contour gives it a about low roofline and beneath allowance than competitors. That’s by the numbers, though; I begin there to be abounding allowance advanced and rear. There’s no altitude for it, but there’s no agnosticism the aerial windowsills accord some bodies claustrophobia. As the table reflects, the legroom is aggressive — abnormally back compared with the redesigned 2010 Ford Taurus, which has sacrificed what had been aberrant roominess in following of bigger styling. Where it had baffled the 300 deeply in about all dimensions, it now trails the 300 in the analytical backseat legroom category, and it’s narrowed its advantage in best added measurements.
As the table shows, the 300 has beneath block aggregate than Ford and Buick, but for what it’s worth, its 15.6 cubic anxiety seems beyond than that. The aperture and block itself are large, and the rear seats bend advanced — a affection that charcoal the barring in full-size cars. Back adapted for achievement versions, some cars that accept the folding action cede it in barter for bracing. SRT8 models don’t.
Another big additional is the 300’s ball options, which in our car included Sirius Backseat TV, which receives the Cartoon Network, the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for examination from the backseat on a 7-inch screen. (It’s additionally the acumen abaft the two atramentous accessory antennae on the advanced and rear of the car’s roof.) Chrysler has been a baton in in-vehicle electronics and ball — aboriginal to the bazaar with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, hard-drive music and photo storage, iPod connectivity, wireless internet and Sirius alive TV. This affectionate of being is what makes abounding Chrysler and Dodge models angle out. The 300 offers them all, as options.
The Chrysler 300’s blast achievement is allotment mystery. In Insurance Institute for Artery Assurance frontal-offset blast tests, it array Good, the accomplished rating. Unfortunately, side-impact ratings are incomplete. We apperceive that it array Poor, the affliction rating, after side-impact airbags. The aboriginal side-impact and blind airbag option, acclimated from 2005-07, delivered a Marginal rating, aloof one footfall aloft Poor. Chrysler has back afflicted the airbags, but the car hasn’t been retested; because that the archetypal is due for a redesign, this bearing may never be.
What’s adamantine to accept is why Chrysler doesn’t accomplish the ancillary airbags accepted to at atomic abate concerns. Including seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the advanced seats, as able-bodied as curtains that awning the advanced and rear ancillary windows, the advantage costs $640 in the SRT8 and includes … the Achievement Display? Assurance appearance care to be accessible a la carte for the everyman price. The everyman 300 trim akin has the airbags for $590, and in added trims they appear in appropriately casuistic combinations with non-safety features, sometimes for alike added money. Admitting accepted on the SRT8, antilock brakes, absorption ascendancy and the adherence arrangement are options on the everyman 300 trims. For a account of all assurance features, bang here, but be abiding to agenda what archetypal (300 or 300C) and trim akin you’re attractive at.
The incremental improvements are welcome, but for the 300 to bulwark off competitors that are abutting the administration race, it will charge a abounding redesign and a affluent interior. I don’t anticipate one can aggrandize the attempt Chrysler — cast and aggregation — faces in the advancing years to achieve the assurance of loyal owners, add alike added barter and accomplish its artefact band aggressive abounding to survive.
As abounding as anything, the 300 auto is an archetype of how articles — alike one artefact — can about-face an auto aggregation around. Back one archetypal draws absorption to the cast and shoppers to dealerships, added models tend to advertise better, too. So it was with the aboriginal 300. Could it be so with the model’s abutting generation? Chrysler would be astute to acquisition out by accepting it on the bazaar — soon.