In Depth – 2011 Chrysler 300
Mitch Clauw is the Chief Engineer on the new 2011 Chrysler 300 and he said that very few parts were taken over from the old model which means that the car you see in these pictures is basically new. The outgoing generation was produced between 2005 and 2010 and had a sported bold, in-your-face styling while the new one has a more grown-up appearance. Its bodylines are less angular and crisper. Despite the fact that the wheelbase remained just about the same (120.2 inches in comparison with 120 inches of the old gen), the 300 model is now longer, taller and wider – better.
The old model wasn’t really capable of standing out against the other competitors from the segment and the engineers at Chrysler had to do something to change this situation. What they did is they made the A- and B-pillars a little bit thinner; the beltline was lowered while the windshield was racked back about three inches. All of the modifications were made in order to improve the outward visibility which I must say it was a very good idea.
Putting it side-by-side with the previous model, the front of the car looks to have suffered the most changes. The nose is now more contoured, improving the car’s aerodynamics, which was another area where serious work had to be done. In this attempt, they also made the grille more trapezoidal and LED daytime running lights were attached to the now slimmer headlamps which look very elegant. The new exterior changes are not as obvious as you might have hoped, but move on inside and you’ll think that this is a totally different car and by “different” we mean way better. What I like the most is the new instrument cluster which looks awesome, way better than the highly-appraised 5-Series from BMW. We’ve seen this design on the Chrysler Imperial Concept which debuted back in ’09.
Can’t say the same thing about the steering wheel but it is considerably better than the one on the old gen. A big plus for the cabin is the generous 8.4-inch LED screen located right in the center. It is capable of providing you with all the audio controls, the HVAC system, Bluetooth phone as well as the built-in Garmin navigation system for which you have to pay extra money. The monitor and the gauges are easy to read even in bright sunlight.
The people over at Chrysler did a hell of a job at making the cabin as silent as possible which means that if you are looking for a quiet full-size sedan, the new 300 might be what you need. They also used a lot of lightweight materials like aluminum and high-strength steel in order to maintain the weight of the old model while at the same time making the car bigger due to the new added equipments.
Under the hood you will find a V6 engine that outputs 292 hp and is linked to a 5-speed automatic gearbox. With this engine and RWD, the Chrysler 300 does 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, according to EPA ratings, which is just about the same as the BMW 535i @ 19/28. A transmission with more gears will certainly improve the car’s fuel efficiency and I’m pretty sure that in the next 1-2 years, the 300 will get a 7- or 8-speed (courtesy of ZF) automatic gearbox which will allow the car to do over 20 mpg in the city.
The base price for the 300 with the V6 and RWD is $27,995 while the 300 Limited is a little bit more expensive, standing at $31,995. The starting price for the 300 with a more powerful HEMI V8 is $38,995. This engine is capable of producing 363 hp. In the future, Chrysler will probably roll out a SRT8 300 model which will produce even more horsepower. Over the old gen V6, you’ll get an additional number of 71 ponies which you will definitely feel.
Even more significant is the increased torque – the old one had 260 lb.-ft while the new generation offers 394 lb.-ft, a pretty important upgrade. With the HEMI engine and RWD, the Chrysler 300 will do 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway while the AWD model does 15/23. The cars fitted with the V8 HEMI also get the fuel saving cylinder deactivation.
The 2011 Chrysler 300 offers a pretty smooth ride thanks to its fully-independent suspension that does the job very well. Steering is very precise with the help of the EPAS – electrically assisted power steering.
Taking into consideration the rough last few years of the company – surviving Cerberus mismanagement, bankruptcy issues and being taken over by Fiat, we must admit that they did a very good job with the new 300 model and put the manufacturer back on the map, promising a bright future ahead.
I for one didn’t like the old model – I thought that it had an outdated look ever since the first day it was launched. The new model is a major improvement in all compartments over the old gen and now it can really face up the competition in the full-size sedan segment.
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