Home > Reviews > 2005 Chrysler 300 Touring

2005 Chrysler 300 Touring

A Homerun Even Without The Hemi

    The Hemi-powered Chrysler 300C has been subject to media exposure approximately equal to Scott Petersen being on trial during a Janet Jackson half-time show. Lesser (read: V6-powered) 300s, however, have garnered the equivalent of a below-the-fold sidebar about the best M.C. Hammer tune. We nonetheless know that a healthy number of 300s are being sold sans Hemi power and that there are plenty of people out there who lack the desire (hard to believe) or means (more likely) to buy a top-of-the-line 300C. It is for these people that The Left Lane is challenging the status quo and reviewing a mid-level run-of-the-mill 300 Touring. OK, you know us better than that. Truth is we tried everything this side of bribing Dieter himself (all right, we tried that too) to get our hands on a tire-melting Hemi-powered 300C. The problem was that everyone else in our industry wanted one too. Our Chrysler PR guy suggested a week in the 300 Touring instead. He was confident that the Touring would be sufficient to win us over. He was right.
     We’ll start with the greatest difference between the 300 Touring and 300C—the engine bay. The Touring (and next model higher Limited) makes due with Chrysler’s corporate 3.5-liter V6 in place of the much-publicized Hemi V8. It is a 24-valve SOHC unit rated at 250hp at 6,400rpm and 250lb-ft of torque at 3,800rpm. Mate that to a 4-speed automatic with a 3.64 final drive ratio and you get decent performance out of the 3,800-pound sedan and respectable fuel economy of 19mpg in the city and 27mpg on the open road. Honestly, this is a fine engine for family sedan duty. If you want more, well, the 300C is always an option.
     If you are stepping into the 300 from virtually any other near-luxury sedan on the market you are probably transitioning to rear-wheel drive. For some it is likely even their first experience with this setup. Rest assured you have much more to gain than to lose but powering lightly loaded rear wheels can result in some foul weather traction issues. Chrysler has gone to great lengths to ensure traction is not an issue for 300 drivers. A large part of the solution is a stellar weight distribution of 53% on the front axle and 47% over the rear axle. Chrysler also includes all-speed traction control and their more sophisticated Electronic Stability Program, or ESP, as standard equipment on all but the base model. ESP coordinates the standard ABS, traction control and stability system to reign in wayward wheel slip before your 300 ends up a 150.
     All 300s, regardless of model, make a strong design statement with a chopped down greenhouse and bold grille guaranteeing you will not confuse this big Chrysler as anything else—except perhaps a Bentley. Most will agree you can do worse than being confused with a Bentley. Still, the design is not for everyone. All Touring models receive 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, fog lamps, and power heated side mirrors.
     Inside the impressive list of standard features continues. Tilt/telescope and leather-wrapped steering wheel, power driver’s seat, CD player, and keyless entry are all included in the Touring’s $26,770 base price. As you would expect in a car this size there is plenty of room in every direction. The dash is a model of simplicity with the center stack crowned by an analog clock and three large knobs operating the climate control. In between, the radio faceplate features large well-marked buttons and a rotary knob for volume and manual tuning; just the way it should be. The gear shifter is an elegant metal and leather unit. Metal is used to great success elsewhere throughout the cabin, especially the thin strip on each door that runs into the door pull. As we’ve mentioned before, the door pull is an important surface that is touched every time a person exits the vehicle and here Chrysler got it just right. Just as in the 300M the instruments in the new 300 are classically beautiful and highly legible. We found the seats comfortable and nicely finished but we would suggest replacing the tricky multi-direction cruise control stalk with straightforward steering wheel mounted buttons.
     We had just two options on our tester. One was the $895 Sound Group that upgrades the single CD player to a 6-disc in-dash unit capable of playing MP3s and gives you six Boston Acoustics speakers and 288-watts of power. The second option was Sirius Satellite Radio for $325. If you appreciate robust sound and quality content you will want to add both of those options to your 300.
     For $28,615 as-tested our Magnesium Pearl 300 Touring impressed us as one of the best family sedans on the market—perhaps the best. At the very least its bold design and rear-wheel drive characteristics distinguish it from the often-boring competition. Sometimes stepping away from the crowd can cause the spotlight to shine in your direction. Indeed the spotlight has been focused on the fire-breathing 300C for quite some time. Consider us a flashlight. We’re just doing our best to cast a glow on the other 300s. Because we discovered, even without a Hemi, this one is a homerun.

The Good:
Style to spare, rear-wheel drive, large cabin and trunk, strong stereo.
The Bad:
Cruise control stalk difficult to master.
The Verdict:
Finally some panache in the domestic sedan market.


Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , , , ,
You must be logged in to post a comment.