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NAIAS 2011: 2011 Chrylser 300


     After a barrage of new and updated product revealed by the Chrysler Group over the past few months, the Chrysler brand finally gave the world a live look at its next generation flagship model, the 300 sedan. While clearly evolutionary as compared to its award winning 2004 predecessor, the 300 appears to refine the model’s best attributes while correcting some of its most glaring faults: base powertrains and interior refinement.
     Gone are the underpowered and aging 2.7L and 3.5L V6s, replaced with a single 292 hp 3.6L ‘Pentastar’ V6. The 5.7L Hemi V8 is thankfully carried over. Chrysler was quick to point out that an 8-speed automatic transmission will be offered in the near future but failed to mention that the car will launch with a 5-speed automatic. Nor did they mention the time frame for the introduction of the 8-speed. With eight gears in the new transmission Chrysler expects V6 models to achieve close to 30 mpg.
     When looking at the interior, Chrysler has gone from the back of the pack in terms of visual and tactile appeal, to being right where the customer expects. Soft materials abound and gone is the unimaginative instrument panel. One area where expectations may be exceeded is with the touchscreen radio. Chrysler claims this is the segment’s largest standard touchscreen radio (at 8.4 inches) and features Uconnect Touch. Uconnect includes Garmin navigation and Sirius Travel Link.
     Chrysler went to great effort to remind the crowd that the 300 was once a part of America’s romance with the automobile and flashed images of tail-finned beauties from the 1950’s. Chrysler’s design guru, Ralph Gillies, suggested that this romance runs deep with the current car’s owner base so detail changes to headlights, fender shapes and slight adjustments to the belt line were all that were needed to update the exterior. Chrysler is hoping that their customers’ love affair with the automobile will lead them to plunk down at least $27,995 for the base 300 when the car become available this spring.

Photos by Jason Muxlow

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