2011 Chrysler 300

The Chrysler 300 is one of the most successful cars that this manufacturer has had in a while. It has the style, the presence, and the uniqueness needed to stand out in the large car market. But the wildly successful 1st generation model of the 300, the one with that iconic “gangster” look, is now giving way to the 2nd generation 300 in 2011. So, is the 2011 Chrysler 300 up to the hype?

Exterior & Interior

Of course, the most obvious change for the 2011 model year is found in its exterior. The wildly successful look that the first model had has been replaced. From being like an old school cruiser, it has now been replaced with a look that is more aggressive and dynamic. Smoother lines and a bolder stance make it look more like those European spec luxury saloons. And while on some eyes it can’t quite match the past generation’s potent looks, this looks uniquely good as well.

The signature silhouette is still there despite the expanded size (despite having an essentially similar wheelbase). While the exterior still needs some work, there is no question that the interior had been improved upon. The resized windows improve visibility from all angles, and the much maligned lack of quality of the interior panels has been addressed. In fact, road noise is even reduced and is now comparable to cars that are much more expensive than this car.

The seats that have always got positive points due to their great space are still there, offering great comfort for occupants both front and rear. As for standard electronic features, there is satellite radio, auxiliary jack for music players, and the uConnect infotainment system are all there, just to name a few. Trunk space is recorded at 16.3 cubic feet, a downgrade from the past model but still at par with its competition.

Performance

The biggest news is the new base engine. The 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine is now the new base engine of the 2011 300. Coming in with a maximum output of 292 horsepower, it represents an upgrade of more than 110 horsepower, which is of course always a good thing.

The second option, is a 5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine that has a maximum output of 360 horsepower, is available for the top-of-the line 300C model. For the Chrysler 300C, the drive-train can be selected either as a rear wheel drive or as a four wheel drive model. A five speed automatic transmission comes as standard, with it being replaced by an 8 speed automatic gearbox replacing it by next year.

Though the suspension is tuned more for comfort and cruising, it is surprisingly nimble when the need or want to drive fast is triggered, especially when equipped with the 20 inch wheels. Steering feel is also much better thanks to the Electronic Steering System, but unlike other cars that are equipped with this gizmo, the steering still feels well balanced.

The Competition

The Buick LaCrosse (MSRP $29,690; 19 city / 30 hwy) and Ford Taurus (MSRP $27,755; 18 city / 27 hwy) stand toe to toe against the 300. All three vehicles are closely matched, with the exception of the LaCrosse which only has an inline-4 182 hp engine and accounts for its better miles per gallon. The Taurus and 300 both have V6 engines with more than 200 hp.

Pros & Cons

The new Chrysler 300 has received positive reviews. It received praise for its exterior that somehow managed to retain the soul of the successfully designed past model while integrating new lines and styling cues. The interior, which already boasted great seats, are further improved by increased build quality.

And the new V6 is an obvious step at the right direction. However, most reviewers don’t like its transmission, although this is expected to be remedied by the soon-to-arrive 8 speed transmission.

The 2011 Chrysler 300 is a start of a new era for this successful vehicle. But if early impressions are to be followed, it looks like the tradition is going to continue.

Overall Rating
75 out of 100

What others say:

“No matter how you slice it, these are still large, heavy cars that won't win any handling contests. Still, the 300 is competent and secure in most every situation. Body lean in fast turns is moderate, but the steering lacks feel. Expect sharper moves with the optional sport suspension, but no models so equipped have been made available for testing.”Consumer Guide

“The new 3.6-liter V6 is much smoother and more powerful than the engine it replaces. The transmission is upgraded from a five-speed automatic to an eight-speed unit this summer, which should contribute to performance and fuel economy.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports

“Composed and comfortable ride; smooth and powerful engines; well-made and roomy interior; generous features list; available all-wheel-drive system.”Edmunds

“The next-generation 2011 Chrysler 300 is defined by new-but-familiar sheet metal, a totally reinvented interior and a long list of new tech-based features.”KBB

Specifications

General Info
Vehicle Type: Sedan Base Price: $27,170.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.1 gallons (72 liters) MPG: 18 city / 27 hwy
Dimensions
Length: 198.6 in. (504 cm) Width: 75 in. (190.5 cm)
Height: 58.5 in. (148.5 cm) Wheel Base: 120.2 in. (305 cm)
Curb Weight: 4006 lbs (1817 kg) Ground Clearance: 4.7 in. (11.9 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 16.3 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Performance
Engine: 24-Valve DOHC V6 Displacement: 3.6 liters
Horsepower: 292 HP Max RPM: 6350 RPM
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds 1/4 Mile: 15.2 seconds
Available Trims & Engine
Option:Chrysler 300 Limited MSRP: $31,170; MPG: 18 city / 27 hwy
Option:Chrysler 300C MSRP: $38,170; MPG: 16 city / 25 hwy
Option:2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 MSRP: $47,170; MPG: 14 city / 23 hwy