New Car Review: 2011 Chrysler 300

Front 3/4 view of black 2011 Chrysler 300 driving on mountain road
The 2011 Chrysler 300.

This is the second 2011 Chrysler 300 the press fleet folks have sent our way in the past few months. I wrote about the first one for High Gear Media's Carnewser.com a couple of weeks back.  That first car came option-free...sporting a price tag $7590 less than the 2011 Dodge Charger reviewed here on TireKicker in late September.

The Carnewser.com piece focused on my trying (and failing) to understand why Chrysler, working to set itself apart as an upscale brand would build and sell such reasonably priced examples of their flagship, the 300.

Since then, though, word has come that Chrysler's dropping the ax on the Dodge Grand Caravan. Come 2013, they'll only be selling the Chrysler Town and Country, setting off speculation that once Fiats, Alfa Romeos and Lancia-sourced Chryslers begin appearing in showrooms, the product mix between those brands, Dodge and Jeep may be very different from what we see now.

So let's assume a plan is in the works and assess the 300 on its own merits, absent percieved price crowding with its cousin, the Dodge Charger.

The 2011 Chrysler 300 rear view.

First of all, even in base form. the 2011 Chrysler 300 is drop-dead gorgeous. It's a completely different design from the last generation, relying on subtle cues to tie the two together. The details are superb and the effect sets the 300 apart as the only big American sedan of its kind.

The new Chrysler Pentastar V6 is a revelation...strong, smooth and economical. Even with a five-speed automatic (an 8-speed is on tap for 2012), the EPA says 18 city, 27 highway, and we saw a rock-steady 20 miles per gallon in a week of nothing but city streets.

The 2011 Chrysler 300 interior.

Like example number one, this 300 was the base model, with a base price of $27,170. Unlike the first car, this one had options...but just two. $295 for Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat exterior paint, and another $295 for Customer Preferred Package 27E...Chrysler's Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth.

Fold that in with the standard equipment (4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, brake assist, hill start assist, all the airbags a car can hold, power locks, keyless entry and pushbutton start, 8-way power driver's seat, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, an AM/FM/Sirius/CD/mp3 audio system with 6 speakers and USB and auxilary connections, and dual-zone climate control and while you don't have the pinnacle in luxury, you do have a remarkably equipped, very quiet, comfortable and reasonably quick big sedan for $28,585 with destination charges.

I've decided to stop worrying about why Chrysler offers this car for so little money. There are people who will be very glad they do.

2011 Chrysler 300

Base price: $27,170.

As tested: $28,585.

Likes: Room, quiet, fuel economy for its class.

Dislikes: Pairing and connecting phones with the Bluetooth system is a lengthy, hit-and-miss proposition.

EPA estimate: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway.


tomservo56954 said...

I can see my mother in this, when she outlives her Grand Marquis

Interesting that they are keeping the upscale mini-van, the Town & Country. Now if they only would bring back the fake wood paneling.

Paul Duca

Michael Hagerty, Founder/Editor of TireKicker said...

Paul, I was going to accuse you of damning the 300 with faint praise. It's way better than a Grand Marquis replacement.

But then I realized: If not a 300, what? The Crown Vic and Town Car have walked the same plank as the Gran Ma, Buick is chasing Acura and Lexus, Pontiac and Olds are goners.

Frankly, I suspect that FoMoCo doesn't believe most of its Grand Marquis owners will outlive their cars and buy another. I hope your Mom is an exception, and the 300 would actually be trading several rungs up.

tomservo56954 said...

Actually, my mother has said she would consider BNW or Lexus or a Buick like them. I just think she's a little unsure about a shift lever on the console
(forgetting that 30 years ago she regularly drove my brother's 1979 Ford LTD II, which had the Cruise-o-Matic in the console)

Michael Hagerty, Founder/Editor of TireKicker said...

Well, if the AT on the tree is a selling point, then an Expedition, Navigator or Econoline will do the trick.

Just kidding. She should test the 300.

tomservo56954 said...

My mother saw her first Navigator when we were shopping for the Grand Marquis before the current one (1998) and wanted nothing to do with it.


Michael Hagerty, Founder/Editor of TireKicker said...

They're nicer now than they were 14 years ago. Another alternative would be a lightly used (but newer than your mom's) Grand Marquis or Lincoln Town Car (preferably 2005 or earlier...before Ford started the de-contenting leading up to discontinuation).

tomservo56954 said...

My mother spent years rattling around by herself in a Country Squire, and I think that turned her off to the idea of an SUV...and these days I can't imagine her endeavoring to climb into one on a regular basis.
(she tackles the summit of my brother's 4x4 F150 when she must travel in snow)


Michael Hagerty, Founder/Editor of TireKicker said...

Then I'd go for the 300 or a lightly used pre-2006 Grand Marquis or Town Car.

Or a low rider F-150.

tomservo56954 said...

No, she'll have to keep climbing. I drop over for Sunday dinner and my brother tells me he's getting a "new" F150 4 x 4. I use the quotes because it's a leftover 2010 that's moved from dealer to dealer in the past year, although it's never been driven.
He'll save a FORTUNE on depreciation.

Paul Duca