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Chrysler 300

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By Chris Chase; photos by Greg Wilson

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2006 Chrysler 300

Chrysler, it seems, is perpetually in financial trouble, a strange thing for a company that has been capable of producing successful vehicles. Take the ubiquitous Grand Caravan minivan, or the LH sedans (Intrepid, Concorde, New Yorker, 300 M, Eagle Vision and LHS, sold at various times from 1993 through 2004), both vehicles that brought something new to their respective market segments (or were instrumental in creating them, in the case of the original Caravan).

In 2005, Chrysler took advantage of its alliance with Mercedes-Benz (during which the company was known as DaimlerChrysler) to once again bring something a bit different to its showrooms. The car was the Chrysler 300, a full-size rear-drive sedan built on a platform based on Mercedes-Benz technology. Its front-engine, rear-drive layout was unique as rear-wheel drive had become rare in mid-priced cars, being limited largely to performance-oriented vehicles and trucks. The 300 shared its architecture with the Dodge Charger and Magnum sedan and wagon, introduced in 2006, and later, the Challenger coupe.

At first glance though, the 300’s biggest drawing card was its ostentatious styling, with a huge grille and chunky styling that brought to mind a Bentley or Rolls-Royce more than an upscale domestic family car.

2006 Chrysler 300
2006 Chrysler 300
2006 Chrysler 300. Click image to enlarge

The base model 300 got a 3.5-litre V6 (250 horsepower) that provided adequate performance, but the highlight was the 300C’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that churned out 340 hp, and if that wasn’t enough, the 300C SRT8 got a 6.1-litre version of the Hemi motor making 425 horsepower. Transmission choices were a four-speed automatic that came with V6 models, and a five-speed auto that served as the only gearbox in V8-powered cars. All-wheel drive was an option in 3.5- and 5.7-litre cars.

For 2006, the five-speed auto was made an option in six-cylinder cars. Other changes were mostly limited to trim and feature updates, and the 2007 model got more of the same. In 2008, designers massaged the 300’s exterior styling and added new wheel designs. The big update for 2009 was a new Hemi “Eagle” V8 engine that made 359 hp, and for 2010, side curtain airbags were made standard in all models, but the front seat side airbags that were optional in 2009 disappeared altogether.

Fuel consumption was rated 12.2/8.1 L/100 km (city/highway) for V6, RWD cars, but those numbers ballooned to 13.9/9.0 when AWD was added, numbers that were virtually identical to those for V8 models, AWD or not. The SRT8 was rated at 16.5/10.9 L/100km. By 2009, V6/AWD consumption figures were down to 12.6/8.6 L/100 km, and the new Eagle V8 earned improved ratings of 13.5/8.0 in RWD form, and the SRT8 had improved too, to 16.0/10.6 L/100 km.

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