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2011 Chrysler 300 C AWD Review

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Chrysler Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Chrysler Buyers Guide

By John Heilig

Model: 2011 Chrysler 300 C AWD
Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8
Horsepower/Torque: 363 hp @ 5,200 rpm/394 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 120.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 198.6 x 75.0 x 59.2 in.
Tires: P255/55R19
Cargo: 16.3 cu. ft.
Economy: 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17.4 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.1 gal.
Curb Weight: 4,513 lbs.
Sticker: $46,880 (includes $825 destination charge, $5,735 in options)

Top5 Reasons to Buy This Car:

1. Large, comfortable
2. Smooth
3. Luxury (but not too much)
4. Power
5. Very good handling

The Bottom Line: Is this a small or simply a nice full-size sedan? No matter what, the Chrysler 300C is a nice automobile that can only get better in 2012 with the addition of an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Many years ago (more than I care to remember) I had the opportunity to test a “Chrysler Limousine.” I think it may have been a LeBaron, but in any case it was a stretched K-car. You know, the front-wheel drive platform that was the basis for just about everything Chrysler during the 1980s. It wasn’t much of a limousine, although the longer wheelbase did provide for a better-than-standard ride.

Fast forward 25 years or so and the tester this week is a 2011 Chrysler 300C AWD. This car, in its standard form, qualifies better as a limo than the stretch K-car. And despite its “C” designation that puts it as part of the alphabet series from Chrysler, this is more of a luxury car than a performance car.

Yes, I said luxury. First, the engine. Under the hood is a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 delivering 363 horsepower. In our tester, the power reached all four wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission. For 2012, an 8-speed is available. We found the 5-speed to be fine.

The engine delivers more than enough power, but in a luxury car, power is important because you don’t want it to be straining too much. There’s a slight muffled roar evident from the exhaust pipes. For a true luxury car this should be quieter, but maybe Chrysler concentrated more on the “C” part of the name than anything else.

Handling is very good, more in the luxury mode than in the performance mode. We found ride quality to be excellent. High-speed cornering attitude could have been better, but I think this would have detracted from the comfort zone.

Drivers will enjoy the fat steering wheel. It’s wood at the top, but leather-coated where you normally grip it. And, in true Chrysler mode, the audio controls are behind the wheel –volume on the right, station change on the left.

Front seats are comfortable and heated and cooled. There isn’t that much side support, but there’s enough. Strangely, the rear seats seem to have more side support than the fronts. They’re heated. There’s a rear window screen to reduce the glare from the sun. A tall center hump obviates carrying a center passenger back there. The rear seat backs fold increasing capacity for an already sizable trunk.

Front passengers have heated and cooled cup holders. It depends on what you’re carrying. Just flip the switch.

In the trunk, there’s a mini spare. The battery is also located under the trunk floor.

Like all top-line Chryslers, the navigation/audio screen is excellent. It provides total information. Even with a CD in the changer, all the information is displayed – song, album and length of song. The screen is so informative, it’s almost a distraction.

Normally, you expect a luxury car to be black. Ours, however, was white with a black interior that exuded class.

I laughed when I drove the old “K-Car Limousine” so many years ago. It had pretensions, but it couldn’t live up to the claim. The 300C, however, doesn’t claim to be a limousine. It just is. Stretch the wheelbase by 6-12 inches qnd it will be a true limo.

2011 The Auto Page