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February 2006,
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2006 Chrysler 300 C AWD

The Good :)  Bold looks, similar to a Bentley.  Tons of Power.  Spacious Interior Room.  Large Wheels and Tires. 

The Bad :(  Interior Parts Feel Cheap.  Some Bounce and Sway in Ride.  Lacks Driver Feedback, Feels Boring to Drive.

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            Chrysler's success can be attributed to one single car lately, the 300 model.  Having the most awarded new car in automotive history is quite an achievement.  We recently tested the 300C with all wheel drive to see if the combination of high luxury and style mixed with high performance and raw power can or cannot make a wonderful car. 

            For 2006, the Chrysler 300 lineup offers a rear wheel drive 300, a Touring model and the HEMI engine powered C.  Both the Touring and C are available in all wheel drive. Chrysler has also kept things fresh by offering special commemorative models from time to time such as the Heritage Edition which pays homage to the 1957 Chrysler 300C.  

Production of the 2006 Chrysler 300 began in April 2005 at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.  The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine is built in the Saltillo Engine Plant in Saltillo, Mexico.  The four-speed and five-speed transmissions are built at the Indiana Transmission Plants I and II respectively, in Kokomo, Ind.  With production of main components from such far apart plants, we wouldn't be surprised to see outsourcing of things like engine blocks to China and India where labor is much cheaper.  Surprisingly, many loyal consumers to the Big Three still think these cars are made in the USA, boys are they wrong!

            The 300's exterior styling is what has been the major selling factor for Chrysler since its introduction.  The big and bold grille is similar to a Bentley.  If you buy this car in a creamy white color many people will actually think it is a Bentley since even the hood logo looks similar.  The high waistline and strong angular front and back design gives us American drivers the macho-man image we all require.  The large wheels and tires is an added plus and usually not offered as standard equipment by other makes in this segment.  However, there is substantial wheel gap which does not look good and should be reduced.  Chrome accents from the front to the rear convey a classy and sparkling new car appearance.

            Interior design is clean and functional.  There is certainly plenty of space in the Chrysler 300C.  The drivers and front passenger seat is power adjustable and can be put in a cradle position.  Dual memory features allow you to save your favorite position and an easy exit feature pushes the seat back and steering wheel out of your way as you park and leave the vehicle.  Rear seats fold 60/40 for carrying large long items. 

The gear shifter gate is simple and easy to use, but the hard plastic controls are on the cheap side for vehicle in this price range.  Chrysler has used some items such as the control stalks on the left hand side of the steering wheel straight from Mercedes Benz vehicles.  The steering column is also adjustable in all ways by a powered lever.  Dials are simple white with black lettering and the hard black plastic background around the dials does not look very high end.  Painted silver plastic trim does look better than just plain silver plastic trim but mixed with the black and grey colors, the interior just did not shine.  The faux plastic looking wood trim on interior door pulls and the upper portion of the steering wheel just screams cheap.  Optional is walnut wood trim for a extra fee, we think that this turtle shell material should be thrown in the trash quickly.  We even found some air bubbles in the see through plastic on the top portion of the steering wheel.

            It seems that Chrysler has deliberately made some parts feel cheap when most of the guts behind the Chrysler 300 are from Mercedes E class technology.  Perhaps the 300 is a way for Mercedes to lure in more buyers to its brand through the Chrysler name in America.  Plastic buttons on the ventilation controls are loose made of hard black plastic.  Around the navigation system you will find cheap buttons and a control dial that does not allow entry of a command, there is a separate button labeled "enter" for that.  Door handles are placed very high and made too thin to feel good in your hand, there is no grab handle placed ergonomically but laid flat horizontally on the door.  Small details like these are what you pay for on better designed interior of a Mercedes. 

            Rear seat passengers enjoy a good amount of space and the video entertainment system ads to the fun.  The seven-inch screen tucks away neatly in the center armrest along with the remote control and two wireless headsets.  In addition to video DVDs, the system can play audio DVDs, Windows Media Audio (WMA), CDs, MP3 audio discs and video CDs.   Auxiliary plug-in jacks are included on the faceplate so that rear-seat passengers can view video directly from a video camera, play games from a video game console or play music directly from a portable MP3 player.  Another unique feature of the entertainment system is that the vehicle speakers can play audio from a disc in the DVD player while rear-seat passengers can listen to audio from the SIRIUS Satellite Radio, AM or FM radio, or a disc in the radio CD player on the headphones.  In back the flip down armrest would be perfect were it not for two hard plastic cup holders placed where your arm should rest, why this was done is beyond me. 

Overall the spaciousness inside the Chrysler 300 and the high seating position gives you a feeling that you are in command with good visibility all around you.  All basic luxuries and technologies available are included or optional on the 300C.  Automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, tire pressure monitor, premium speakers, rear backup sensors, memory system for seats, mirrors, steering wheel, stereo, dual climate zones, heated seats, UConnect Bluetooth telephone connection, and filters for ventilation are offered.  Trunk space is also very good with a high and wide opening for loads of cargo. 

            The famous 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine found in the 300C offers tons of power and smooth acceleration.  It features cylinder deactivation which shuts off some cylinders when not needed for improved fuel economy.  The engine offers 340 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque rocketing the 300C to sixty miles per hour in just six seconds.  Our tests revealed a fuel economy of 16.6 miles per gallon, a bit low.  Fuel economy on the window sticker is rated at 17 city and 24 highway.

            Driving the 300C is enjoyable.  The feel from the driver's seat is that you are driving a big car.  The fenders and hood look as if they are far away and the narrow windshield and high dash makes you feel more in your own world.  Steering feedback is certainly present and on the normal side however the light steering should be adjusted to be firmer.  We lacked severe winter weather to test the four wheel drive system but during everyday driving it was not noticeable from the interior.  No noises from under the vehicle and no wheels screeching as you surge using all available horsepower on this four wheel drive car.  The mechanicals of the Chrysler 300C are excellent.  The transmission can manually change gears to go into a sportier driving situation; however, shifts are slow and calculated. 

We drove the Chrysler 300C vehicle extensively for long drives and found that seats do cause some fatigue long after you have stopped driving.  They are not the same as those found in an S-class for example where you feel more relaxed after a long trip than when you started.  The steering wheel is just a bit too large to drive comfortably and hold for long periods.  The looseness can present itself in highway driving more so than on the usual country road.  The vehicle is also a bit bouncy and hard to control on uneven surfaces; this is where a tighter suspension would show its usefulness. 

            Our test car which was a 2006 300C All Wheel Drive had a base starting price of $34,850.  Options include metallic paint for $150, a protection group II for $850 which includes side curtain air bags, air filtering, and the 18 inch self sealing tires, as well as rear backup parking sensors.  The CD based GPS system adds $1,895.  Satellite digital radio by Sirius is $195.  The UConnect hands free Bluetooth cell phone connection costs $275.  The rear seat entertainment system with headphones adds $1,150.  Total price with a $675 destination fee is $40,030. 

With the 300, Chrysler has put together a package unlike most other cars on the road.  There simply isn't another car that has the style, standard amenities and power in today's marketplace for the price.  The 300 appeals to a certain type of buyer who prefer the muscular bold look similar to cars in the 60's.  The importance of this model is that is shows that you don't have to win the hearts of everyone to have a successful model.  If only other manufactures actually took chances with bold designs, something that inspires a few rather than trying to appeal to the mass, we might have something exciting to drive more often. 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 32,295 34,950
Destination 675 675
State Surcharge 300 300
Navigation & Sound Group II 300C  DVD-Based GPS Navigation System, AM/FM Stereo w/6-Disc CD Changer & MP3, 368-Watt Amplifier, (7) Boston Acoustics Speakers & Subwoofer. 1,960 2,130
Protection Group II 300C Includes Air Filtration System, Rear Parking Sensors, F&R Head Curtain & Side Impact Air Bag Restraint System & P225/60R18 Self-Sealing BSW Tires 773 840
Sound Group II. 368-Watt Amplifier, AM/FM Stereo w/Cassette, 6-Disc CD Changer, MP3, (7) Boston Acoustics Speakers & Subwoofer. 584 635
Pedals, Power Adjustable w/Memory 300C 161 175
Sun Roof, Power Touring, 300C & SRT8 874 950
Communication System, UConnect 253 275
Entertainment System Touring, 300C & SRT8 1,058 1,150
Headlamps, HID w/Washers 300C 639 695
Interior Trim, Walnut Wood 300C 455 495
Radio Equipment, Sirius Feature Base, Touring & 300C 179 195

 

 

  2006 Chrysler 300
C 4dr Sedan AWD (5.7L 8cyl 5A)
2006 Volkswagen Passat
3.6 4Motion 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
2006 Cadillac DTS
Performance 4dr Sedan (4.6L 8cyl 4A)
2006 Infiniti M35
4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Audi A6
4.2 quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
Manufacturer Info 300 Passat DTS M35 A6
MSRP $34,850 $31,900 $49,695 $43,340 $53,770
Invoice $32,205 $29,413 $46,465 $39,829 $49,559
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 6 yr. / 70000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Roadside 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Rust 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 6 yr. / 100000 mi. 7 yr. / Unlimited mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V8 V6 V8 V6 V8
Base Engine Displacement 5.7 liters 3.6 liters 4.6 liters 3.5 liters 4.2 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
40 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 340 hp @ 5000 rpm 280 hp @ 6200 rpm 291 hp @ 5600 rpm 280 hp @ 6200 rpm 335 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque 390 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 265 ft-lbs. @ 2750 rpm 286 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 270 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm 310 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm
Driven Wheels all wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive all wheel drive all wheel drive
Active Suspension Not Available Not Available Standard Not Available Not Available
Self Leveling Suspension Not Available Not Available Standard Not Available Optional
d 300 Passat DTS M35 A6
Tires P225/60HR18
performance
P235/45HR17
all season
Not Published P245/45VR18
all season
P245/45R17
all season
Sunroof power glass - Optional power glass power glass - Optional power glass power glass
Xenon Headlights Optional Optional Standard Optional Standard
Parking Assist rear parking sensors - Optional front and rear parking sensors - Optional front and rear parking sensors Not Available rear parking sensors - Optional
Total Number of Speakers 6 10 - Optional 8 6 10
Navigation System CD navigation system - Optional DVD navigation system - Optional DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional
Handling 300 Passat DTS M35 A6
Turning Circle 38.9 ft. 35.8 ft. 44 ft. 36.1 ft. 39 ft.
City 17 mpg. 18 mpg. 17 mpg. 17 mpg. 17 mpg.
Highway 24 mpg. 27 mpg. 24 mpg. 24 mpg. 23 mpg.
Length 196.8 in. 188.2 in. 207.6 in. 192.6 in. 193.5 in.
Width 74.1 in. 71.7 in. 74.8 in. 70.8 in. 73 in.
Height 58.4 in. 58 in. 57.6 in. 60 in. 57.4 in.
Weight 4251 lbs. 3829 lbs. 4009 lbs. 4004 lbs. 4145 lbs.
Wheel Base 120 in. 106.7 in. 115.6 in. 114.2 in. 111.9 in.
Front Headroom 38.7 in.   38.3 in. 39.6 in. 37.5 in.
Rear Headroom 37 in.   38.4 in. 37.8 in. 37.8 in.
Front Shoulder Room 59.4 in. 55.7 in. 60 in. 58.2 in. 57.1 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 57.7 in. 54.6 in. 59.2 in. 56.9 in. 55.9 in.
Front Hip Room 55.9 in.   57.3 in. 55.1 in.  
Rear Hip Room 55.9 in.   55.7 in. 53.9 in.  
Front Leg Room 41.8 in. 41.4 in. 42.5 in. 44.2 in. 41.3 in.
Rear Leg Room 40.2 in. 37.7 in. 42 in. 37.3 in. 36.9 in.

 

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