Page 1: Introduction
DETROIT, MI - Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Chrysler produced a series of luxury sport coupes called the 300. After the debut of the original, each successive model adopted a letter designation to indicate that it was the next in the series. These large, fast Chryslers were not always pretty, but they did represent the best of what Chrysler did back when it was a premium American brand competing with Cadillac and Lincoln for well-heeled consumers.
The Chrysler 300 returned after a 25-year hiatus in the late 1990s, based for the first time on a front-drive platform and equipped with a V6 engine. It sold well enough, but didn't live up to the legendary 300s of days gone by without a powerful V8 or bold styling detail. And it didn't compete on equal footing in terms of quality or prestige with the leaders in the modern luxury segment: Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Chrysler introduced a redesigned 300 model, based on a rear-wheel-drive platform and offering an available Hemi V8 engine. This car, first shown to critics and the public in concept format a year prior to introduction, is definitely bold. The 2005 Chrysler 300 has a long hood, a short deck, a squat greenhouse, massive slab sides, and an in-your-face eggcrate grille like the elegantly proportioned classics of yesterday. The striking design screams luxury and prestige, yet the base price of the car is just $23,595 including the destination charge.
Page 2: Features
Pop another $2,500 on the hood to get the Chrysler 300 Limited, which shares the Touring's powertrain and boosts the luxury quotient with chrome wheels, an electrochromic self-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, express-up and -down front windows and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. The price is $29,890 for the Limited.
Stately, elegant, classically proportioned and unmistakably American, the 2005 Chrysler 300 is an interesting ride. It's a mistake for Chrysler to reach into the low $20,000s to capture buyers when trying to reposition as a premium brand (let 'em buy the Sebring!), but otherwise this is a smart and highly visible effort to boost the prestige of Chrysler's winged badge.
-- Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler AG