Chrysler 300 Touring
A recent business trip to California had me end up at Dollar rent-a-car. My initial plans were to get a Sebring convertible, but my luggage needs and not so perfect weather dictated that I get a larger vehicle. The rental company gave me a Chrysler 300 Touring V6 model. The “Hemi” 300C won’t be available for daily rental until June or July.
The car had 1000 miles on it. It had 1500 by the time my brother and I were done with it.
As I’ve stated before, looks are subjective. What one person likes another one hates. You’re mother thinks you are beautiful, no matter what other people say about you. I happen to like the look of 300 very much. It’s different from pretty much everything else on the road today. Some people don’t like it. In my 5 days with the 300, I didn’t meet any of the people that didn’t like it. It drew a crowd almost everywhere we went, and all of the buzz was positive. Most people didn’t know what the car was. I had a few people ask if it was a Bentley, and one guy (a cop) thought it was a new Mercedes. I had 2 people ask me if it had a Hemi. For being different, I find it has a lot of style (unlike the “different” Scion Xb or Aztek). Thumbs up from me in the styling department.
The Touring model we rented was a “middle” model. It had some goodies, but was far from fully loaded. All models share similar interiors, but some things were obviously missing. Our car did not have a sunroof. It also didn’t have a navigation screen. It did have leather upholstery. The seats were very comfortable. They were especially roomy in the back (something that Chrysler has always exceeded with in this class).
The dashboard layout was nice. The gauges were easily readable, and had a nice “indiglo” look to them at night. The actual materials used throughout the car had a plastic feel to them. Not necessarily “cheap”, but surely not rich. I’m not sure if they would be any better on the higher end models (I doubt it). The buttons and switches of the headlights, radio, HVAC, etc… felt strong enough. Just the actual dash and center console materials didn’t seem top notch enough. Fine at $20k, but not at $30k.
The cupholders were large enough. I don’t remember if there were cupholders in the back seat. None were immediately visible. If they weren’t there, that would be a major flaw. While the driver’s side had a power seat, the passenger side was manual. Dual power would have been nice.
My biggest complaint on the interior would be the door locks. I didn’t like the lock-unlock mechanism. It’s a sideways rocker switch that doesn’t let you feel like you are locking the door. After pressing the button, you have to look at the manual door buttons to see if they are in the up or down position. It’s not intuitive. Also, when you stop the vehicle and turn off the engine, the rear doors don’t automatically unlock. (This may be a settable feature/child safety thing, but I didn’t look into that).
The trunk was very large, swallowing up more than 6 17” computer monitors, or separately 3 suitcases. We didn’t use the fold down rear seats.
Engine / Ride:
I much would have preferred the Hemi V8, but as I said, that wasn’t available. What I got was the 250hp V6. This engine was very smooth and quiet. It didn’t seem as powerful as it was. Without a problem, the car accelerated to highway speed. It was fast, but didn’t feel fast. My 94 Bonneville “feels” faster than the 300 but I’m sure it isn’t. I didn’t have any test equipment to verify acceleration. The engine seemed fine. No real complaints. Highway lane changes and passing occurred without a worry. Not quite sure what else to say. It’s an engine. It works. It should with only 1000 miles on it. The car seemed smooth at all times. No weird noises. No rough ride. I tried (only once) to get the back end to come out (accelerating quickly around a turn) but it didn’t happen. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough gas, or perhaps the tires are too new. Or perhaps the traction control kicked in. I wish I had more time or opportunity to drive the car a little harder.
I think the car is a hit. If the American buying public goes for the rear wheel drive (tougher sale up here in Canada) then the car will do very well. Price wise, I think Chrysler hit the nail on the head. I’d way rather have this car than a Buick Lesabre Limited at approx $4000 more. I’d also take the 300 over the Ford Crown Victoria LX (even though it has a V8).
Are we about to see Police car and Taxi versions of the 300? I think so. Will that take away from some of the prestige? I think so too.
Is the 300 last year’s Mercedes E-Class? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Only for Ford and GM. Not for Chrysler.
The success/failure of the 300 will directly impact GM’s decision for the next Impala/Monte Carlo to go RWD. Chrysler’s 300 could shake up the industry. That’s what is needed right now.
Expensive Look in unexpensive package
Large comfortable interior
“Look at me” factor (which may wear off when the car becomes more common)
No auto-stick with this engine
Some options missing (Please note this was a rental car. Some options might not have been bought, but might be available).
Interior materials look good but feel plasticky.