Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Chrysler 300M Overview
Drive It Hard
This may be the last year for the front-wheel drive 300M; Chrysler is readying a rear-wheel drive replacement rumored to be outfitted with a real-live Hemi engine, though whether it will debut as a 2004 or 2005 model is yet to be seen. If you've been eyeing the 300M but continue to put off buying, this may be the wake up call you need to get moving. The 2003 300M has been tweaked and fine tuned about as much as Chrysler can tweak and fine tune a car, which makes this the version you'll want sitting in your garage come spring.
What the 300M does better than just about every other car in its league is perform. This car is passionate about its mission and it will provide you thrills usually offered up by small sport coupes. The real kicker is that you get all this driving pleasure and room for four other passengers plus their gear. If the 300M's looks don't tell you all you need to know about the car's intent, then let the lengthy list of performance-oriented equipment spell it out for you: this car was designed to run. The 300M begins its life sharing the same tightly-tuned chassis as the Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid. It then loses a few inches off the trunk, gets a new rear window, unique front end and a revised interior treatment. Wide 17-inch tires are fitted to racy custom alloy wheels. Special ground effects and a big twin chrome tailpipe complete the visual effect.
For those seeking the ultimate in performance driving, Chrysler has carried over the limited-production 300M Special for the 2003 model year. The Special is lowered an additional inch and receives custom ground effects that improve the vehicle's aerodynamics and gives the 300 a particularly menacing appearance. Huge 18-inch alloy wheels are surrounded by a set of uni-directional Michelin Pilot tires that cling to the asphalt with unrelenting tenacity. The ride is somewhat compromised by the shorter tires and stiffer suspension, but overall the 300M Special is still a comfortable cruise so long as the road beneath you has been well maintained. You will notice that extra care must be taken when parking the 300M Special as its' low ground effects and front air dam tend to snag easily on parking blocks and high curbs speed bumps and dips in the road are also easy targets for the plastic moldings.
The 300M enjoys much of the same interior room of its Concorde cousin, but features a much more stylish dashboard and instrument layout. The instrument faces are adorned with a beautiful art-deco-style font and include a 150-mph speedometer; at night, the dash and white-faced instruments glow a cool teal blue. The 300M's handsome interior feels almost posh, yet the seats, steering wheel and gearshift lever all have the appropriate feel befitting a performance sedan. The supportive heated driver and passenger seats are adorned in perforated leather and include a memory function for the driver's seat. You'll find there is ample leg, head and shoulder room for five adults.
Though you will no doubt enjoy showing off your 300M to your friends and colleagues, the most enjoyment you'll receive from the car are those moments when the two of you are out on the road. For a front-drive car, the 300M's handling is nothing short of miraculous. The heavily-weighted steering wheel allows you to direct the 300M exactly where you want it without fuss or histrionics and the wheel returns to dead center in almost all instances. As you push your 300M, you will also notice how it remains level as it sweeps around turns, with minimal understeer that comes on gradually enough so that you can let off the throttle and bring the car back in line. That a front-wheel drive car can be pushed to these limits is a testament to the expertise of the Chrysler's suspension design team.
Of course, great handling is not worth much if you can't get up to speed, and to that end, the 300M earns another A+. The standard 3.5-liter V6 churns out 255 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs. of torque at just 3800 rpm. This means the 300M can move quickly off the line and even quicker when it comes to passing at high speed. The Autostick feature, though clever, is really not as much fun to drive as a standard manual; there are some things in life that cannot be replaced by a computer chip and a cable-actuated clutch pedal with a slick shifting 6-speed gear box is one of them; we'll keep our fingers crossed for the next generation.