Chrysler 300C saloon (2005 – 2011) review
Read the Chrysler 300C saloon (2005 - 2011) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.3 The Chrysler 300C has been around since 2005 yet it still offers a combination of distinctive looks and great packaging that you won’t find elsewhere.
- Looks great – still
- Very good value
- Spacious cabin
- Cabin feels cheap
- Not much engine choice
- Limited practicality
At a glance
Imposing looks is one of the key reasons why many people buy a Chrysler 300C. The rectangular headlamps plus the squared-off nose and tail have a Bentley-esque look. With its high waistline and shallow glasshouse the Chrysler 300C looks seriously aggressive. Throw in the privacy glass and mesh grille that most cars come with and it’s no wonder that many people liken the 300C to a gangster’s car.
At first glance the cabin of the Chrysler 300C lives up to the promise of the exterior. It’s well-designed if rather more conventional, while there’s plenty of standard equipment. Unfortunately on closer inspection, the plastics are low grade in places and the fit and finish can’t match that of key German rivals like the BMW 5-series and Audi A6. Getting comfortable is easy though, thanks to eight-way seat adjustment and a steering wheel that’s adjustable for height – but not reach.
As an executive-size saloon, in terms of practicality the Chrsyler 300C saloon has size on its side, although the separate boot limits this. Ultimate practicality is further limited by the fact that the rear seats don’t fold, which is why 504 litres is the most you can fit into the 300C. Buy the more expensive Jaguar XF instead though and the boot can take up to 920 litres with the rear seats folded – or 500 litres with them in place. More impressive is the interior space. The 300C’s cabin offers ample room for those in the front as well as the back.
Ride and handling
As a generously proportioned executive car, the 300C’s dynamics are slanted very much in favour of a cosseting ride rather than pin-sharp handling. As a fast cruiser the 300C is superb, although the ride is a bit fidgety at low speed on poor surfaces. Show the 300C a series of sweeping bends and it’s fine if you don’t push it too hard. This isn’t a car for the enthusiast driver, even in SRT-8 form.
There are just two engines available in the 300C, and they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. If you want a proper American muscle car you’ll want the Hemi-powered 6.1-litre SRT-8, with its 425bhp V8. Capable of scorching to 62mph in five seconds and topping out at 168mph, it’s a serious powerhouse. By far the most popular engine though is the 3-litre V6 diesel borrowed from the old Mercedes E-Class. Smooth and muscular, this engine generates 215bhp and a superb 376lb/ft of pulling power, making cruising effortless. The upshot of these figures is a top speed of 143mph and a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds. Betraying its American roots, all 300Cs come with a five-speed automatic gearbox, with no manual option.
The fact that you don’t have to fork out a lot of cash to buy a 300C makes it enticing. It also helps that this is a well-equipped car so you don’t have to delve into the options list too heavily. But it’s also a car that’s been around for a while, so it doesn’t hold onto its value like it used to. The SRT edition loses value alarmingly quickly, and as it consumes fuel at the rate of 20mpg (with CO2 emissions of 337g/km) you’ll need deep pockets to run one. More palatable is the 3-litre CRD, which can manage a 34.9mpg average along with CO2 emissions of 215g/km. But you’ll search in vain for any eco tech like stop and start. Compare this with the Audi A6 3-litre TDi quattro and it doesn’t look good. This German rival emits just 179g/km of CO2 and can average 42.2mpg. Even more impressive is the BMW 530d with its CO2 emissions of just 166g/km and 44.8mpg average. But both of these Germans are significantly more costly.
Despite some of the cheap plastics giving the Chrysler 300C a slightly low-rent feel inside, the 300C has so far proved to be pretty reliable overall. Most problems have centred on the electric windows failing, the diesel engine’s throttle sensor reverting to limp-home mode and the door mirror mechanisms giving up.
The 300C hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, and those Chryslers which have been, haven’t fared very well. However, the 300C uses the same platform as the Mercedes E-Class, which suggests it will be more capable in a crash. All 300Cs come with traction control, electronic stability programme, brake assist, Isofix mountings and a multitude of airbags including curtain, front and side. The 6.1-litre SRT8 also gets a limited-slip differential and ultra-high performance brakes. Unfortunately, high-tech modern features such as adaptive cruise control or blind spot warning aren’t available.
The SRT-8 comes with just one trim level, while there are two trim levels for the 300C 3.0-litre CRD. Entry-level cars carry SE badges and come with parking sensors front and rear, leather trim, dual-zone climate control and eight-way electrically adjustable seats, xenon lights, self-levelling suspension, cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels. For an extra £1,000 you can splash out on SR trim which brings touch-screen sat-nav with voice control along with a seven-speaker 380-watt hi-fi that’s iPod-ready. Also included is a 30GB hard drive for music storage, a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection plus walnut trim highlights around the cabin. The 3.0-litre CRD SRT tops the range with its 20-inch alloy wheels, mesh grille, wheel arch extensions, carbon-effect interior trim plus suede inserts for the seats.