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Roadtest of Chrysler 300C

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First Look: 2005 Chrysler 300C

The end of cab-forward front drive as we know it

By Todd Lassa

Motor Trend, June 2003

American cars are primarily front drive, Dieter Zetsche told us when he took the helm of Chrysler Group a couple years ago. Was he toying with us, or was his vision skewed by 20 years of K-cars and their offspring? Chrysler now leads the march back to big rear-drive cars, noting that even Snowbelt customers can enjoy them with traction control and modern tire technology.

The first modern rear-drive American family sedan (no, Ford Crown Vic doesn't count) is the Chrysler 300C. Its 5.7-liter Hemi is the same V-8 first seen in the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty, tuned to 340 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. Leading this engine is a face inspired by the '98 Chrysler Chronos concept. Besides dumping the LH's cab-forward design, the 300C replaces its soft-soap look with masculine, chiseled styling that recalls the confidence of '50s American cars, without being retro. Suspension is fully independent, front and rear.

Like the current 300M, the 300C concept is less than five meters (196.8 inches) in overall length, making it a viable car for Europe's roads. It's a pretty tall sedan, too, at 58.4 inches, and Chrysler estimates weight with the Hemi at a '60s-esque 4000 pounds.

A two-door convertible will follow, and a new Concorde on the same platform will come with the 3.5-liter V-6 only. Whether it's sold in Europe or not, the 300C is proof that Dr. Zetsche has become familiar with the correct definition of "American car."

2005 Chrysler 300C

Base price $32,000 (est)

Vehicle layout Front engine, rwd, 4-door, 5-pass

Engine 5.7L/340-hp V-8, OHV, 2 valves/cyl

0-60 mph, sec 6.0 (est)

On sale in U.S. Mid 2004

this is what the convertible may look like:


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