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2006 Chrysler 300C Road Test

Style, grace and get-up-and-go

By Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan

2006 Chrysler 300CWith its somewhat aggressive styling, more toys than you could fit under a Christmas tree and a Hemi power plant that can blow your socks off, the 300C from Chrysler is one heck of a car.

Never have I seen a sedan with more menacing good looks than those of the Chrysler 300C. Actually that's not strictly true. As a bit of a horror movie fan, I've seen “The Car” (1977) and have also seen “Christine” (1983). Both movies feature an awesome-looking vehicle that devours everything in sight. The Hemi-powered 300C, on the other hand, is an awesome-looking vehicle with a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 6.2 seconds that can devour pretty much everything in sight.

The exterior of this car reminded me in many ways of those classic movie cars. It has a solid-looking stance with high door lines that make the roof almost appear chopped. The handsome 18-in. chrome-clad aluminum wheels nicely fill the wheel arches and add to that low-slung look.

The exterior of my test vehicle was painted in a silver grey metallic, almost a light gunmetal colour, and with its light grey leather interior, was very sharp. With all the chrome accents and the HID headlamps, the vehicle just oozed prestige and I would not have looked out of place in the back seat with someone driving me around.

I really like to see chrome on a car and it has to be said that this model has the perfect balance of chrome -- not over the top -- but enough to highlight the vehicle. The 300C looks good from any angle and is one of those vehicles that one tends to stop and admire; the Chrysler design team truly deserves the praise that it has received for this vehicle.

2006 Chrysler 300CThe four-door sedan boasts a whole host of goodies: rain sensing wipers, adjustable pedals, Sat Nav, a Boston Acoustics' sound system and a DVD player, just to name a few. Inside, the leather seating was very comfortable but I must confess that I found the carpet and headlining a little disappointing for a car in this price range. I also had a little trouble with the cupholders; now I don't know if Tim Horton's had anything to do with the design, but strangely, a large coffee cup fitted perfectly well, but anything smaller was really awkward to grab hold of.

One other area that fell slightly short of my expectations was the interior wood trim. The half-rim wood steering wheel was pleasant enough, so was the top of the AutoStick shift lever, but covering the door grab handles in wood was possibly a mistake, as they end up scratched and marked by rings and are constantly covered in fingerprints.

That said, who cares! Half the fun of this vehicle is driving it -- actually. forget that -- it's more like 80% of the fun. For those of you who have not driven a Hemi-powered vehicle, I urge you to go and try one out. This V8 power plant with its MDS system (Multi Displacement System) is amazing. It produces incredible power, yet simply put, it shuts down four cylinders when you have no real need for them. Then when you hit the gas, within 0.040 seconds, you have more screaming power than a Hollywood horror flick.

2006 Chrysler 300CHaving said that, I drove this vehicle for a week, and I actually started to worry that it might have a faulty fuel gauge. The needle seemed slower to move than expected. They say that the Hemi can give fuel savings of up to 20%; they also say that by the end of the 2007 model year, Chrysler products with Hemi engines will be saving 60 million gallons of gas a year. Of course, if we had the European version with the famous Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel engine, we could probably save even more.

The ride qualities of the 300C are exceptionally good, although I did find the steering a little light and would venture to say that Chrysler could do well to dig a little deeper into the Mercedes Benz parts bin. Now, I'm a rear-wheel-drive fan and many companies have produced powerful vehicles, which when coupled to a rear axle, simply struggle for grip. Traction on the 300C is outstanding and a quick departure from a stop sign will impress any passenger -- this car just grips and goes.

All that Hemi power is smoothly transferred through a five-speed automatic transmission with a nudge up, nudge down feature. Couple this to a five-point linked rear end, add in a mix of all-speed traction control and Chrysler's ESP (Electronic Stability Program), and it's kind of like having “point and go” technology. Of course, once you get it going, you have to stop; not a problem, with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and brake assist, it has that totally covered. An all-wheel-drive version is available too.

2006 Chyrsler 300CNow I've gone on a bit about the about the performance aspects of the 300C and with good reason, it's a big part of the fun of driving the car. There is however, another side to this vehicle -- its “civilized guise.” The 300C makes a great family car, it is roomy and comfortable, and it even has a optional DVD system for the kids in the back seat. It also has a trunk that is huge, with more than enough room for a dead body or two (sorry, I'm back to the scary movies again).

The engine is quiet at low revs and the ride quality, as I have said, is exceptional. The best way that I can try to sum up the 300C is this: It would be the perfect car for a diplomat or maybe even the Prime Minister. A vehicle to be stately driven by a chauffeur, with the passenger safely cocooned within a solid, yet comfortable shell, but should trouble arise, enough get up and go to be got up and gone!

Kevin's Conclusion:

Even without the Hemi, this would be a very nice car to drive, with the Hemi, it's a blast! When they made those automotive horror flicks all those years ago, they hired custom car designers at great expense to create those “one off” vehicles. If you're a budding movie-maker today and you want my advice, save your money, get a blacked-out 300 with a Hemi.  That's the great thing about this car, change the exterior colours around and it would suit everyone from George Bush to Mad Max (no, they're not the same person!).

Kevin's rating: 9/10 (“What a Car”)

Vehicle price as tested $49,980

$43,595 - base price
GPS / 6 disc Boston Acoustics Sound system  - $2895
Power Sunroof -           $1050
Rear seat video -          $1190
U Connect Bluetooth - $295
Protection Group II -   $955 includes - self sealing tires, rear park assist, side curtain airbags, supplemental side air bags,

Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan is a writer based in Calendon, Ont., and a regular contributor to CarTest!

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