How do you know when an auto marque is on its way to extinction? When that auto marque no longer offers a good modern flagship car. That’s what happened to Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, and Plymouth before the plug was pulled. We’ll if anyone had any doubts about the future of Chrysler which after a great successful comeback in the 1980s and 1990s was absorbed by Daimler who later threw it under the bus, is now a big part of Fiat’s future – you need not worry, One look at Chrysler and its current offerings, you soon realize that it’s very healthy with a bright future. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about Lincoln which is currently encountering its worse identity crisis in its history – its future is riding on the upcoming redesigned front-wheel drive based 2013 MKS. Cadillac has made a resurgence in recent years with some stylish and sporty models that have won over the critics, unfortunately its soon to be new flagship car will be the front-wheel drive based 2013 XTC. Both the Lincoln MKS and Cadillac XTC are large enough to serve as formidable luxury flagship cars, but with both being based on front-wheel drive architecture they unfortunately will fall short of being true flagship cars.
Any true upscale luxury brand has a large rear-wheel drive flagship car. And there are even brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW where rear-wheel drive is standard on all car models. Unfortunately with the American automobile brands the large rear-wheel drive luxury cars are all gone except for the Chrysler 300. That’s right, it’s the lone man standing. If you want a rear-wheel drive full-size American luxury car the 300 is it, there’s no other option. Now with that said, Chrysler could do the European approach and soak its customers of everything in their bank accounts. Instead Chrysler offers this the 300 for the bargain basement base price of $26,895. For that price you get a beautifully styled big car with adequate options and plenty of comfort not to mention a standard 292 horsepower 3.6 liter V6. To understand what a bargain this is, even BMW’s smallest 4-door sedan for 2012 – the 328i has a base price of $34,900 and a standard 240 horsepower 2.0 liter 4-cylinder motor. And BMW’s least expensive full-size sedan (which is the same size as the Chrysler 300) is the 740i which is standard with a 340 horsepower twin turbo 3.0 liter V6 and has a base price of $71,000. So it doesn’t take a person with a great deal of brain matter to quickly realize that Chrysler offers a lot of luxury car for the money. And unlike the full-size rear-wheel drive cars of yesteryear Chrysler offers the ultimate large performance sedan with the 470 horsepower 392 CID (6.4 liter) Hemi V8 powered 300 SRT8 version which can run with the fastest sedans Europe has to offer at a fraction of the cost – base price is only $48,470.
Now the question might come up – what about those people who want the size and feel of V8 powered traditional rear-wheel drive big luxury car – a step or two up in luxury from the base 300 model? In other words something in-between the standard Chrysler 300 and the tire pavement pounding 300 SRT8. Chrysler certainly has that covered by offering different choices geared towards different audiences – the 300 S, 300 Limited, and the 300C. In order to compete with the best luxury cars in the world Chrysler has upped the the ante by offering the ultimate luxury package in the form of the the "Luxury Series". This luxury package is available on the 300 or the 300C. However it’s the 300C Luxury Series that gives buyers the complete package with a standard 5.7 liter Hemi V8 rated at 363 horsepower. What makes the 5.7 Hemi real special is not just the abundance of horsepower but its loads of low-end torque – 394 lb-ft to be exact. Back in the good old days the biggest luxury cars thrived on lots of low-end torque. Here is where the Chrysler 300C Luxury Series really delivers. The 2011 Lincoln Town Car was the last big rear-wheel drive luxury sedan that the Ford Motor Company made, and it was loved by its loyal customers, the chaffer services, and executive taxi services for its smooth and torquey 4.6 liter SOHC V8. However its torque was pittance at 297 lb-ft compared to the 300C’s 5.7 liter Hemi. In fact the loads of torque from the 5.7 Hemi pulls the 300C Luxury Series with so much ease that you forget the it weights in at a hefty 4,326 lbs (4,515 lbs with AWD). The Hemi has more than enough punch to deliver a blazing quick 5.5 second 0-60 mph time and the 1/4 mile in 14 seconds flat.
Chrysler could have left the standard 5.7 Hemi powered 300C as its flagship and it would be enough to keep the buyers coming. After-all the plush leather seats, real wood trim accents, other upscale looking trim pieces, and a beautifully laid out dash design which were first introduced for 2011 are enough to keep this on par with the competition especially considering the reasonable price of the 300C. Yet Chrysler has decided to really get serious and attempt to beat the best and this includes Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, BMW, etc. on pure luxury excess.
When the modern 300C made its first appearance for the 2005 model year, it was breath of fresh air – a powerful rear-wheel drive luxury car with an independent rear suspension and very unique and attractive exterior styling. It became a big seller and helped to keep Chrysler on the luxury map. When the 300 was redesigned for the 2011 model year, Chrysler thrust the 300 especially the 300C to the next level – the new elegant styling gave the car a very upscale high class look. The 300C’s length may be shorter than the big Chrysler land yachts of yesteryear however its got a long 120 inch wheelbase which is on par with the big older luxury cars. So what you have with the new 300 is a car with a lot of interior room.
For the 300C Luxury Series interior – premium leather is on the seats, steering wheel, dash, center console area, center armrest, and even on the door panels. And accenting all this supple leather is a natural pore mocha wood trim. All of which you would expect to be in the interiors of the most elite of six figure price tag luxury cars. The 300C’s well lit gauges are a real treat – something that you never get tired of. And the state-of-the-art touch screen navigation system/radio is easy to use. The real test is sitting in the driver seat where this car just feels right.
Unlike the big American luxury cars of old, the 300C has an independent rear suspension instead of the traditional solid rear-axle. The 300C’s suspension is very well tuned. This is no ease task since the 300C has to walk a very thin tightrope by providing a suspension that absorbs the bumps and other road imperfections that traditional luxury car buyers expect while at the same time be able to handle the tight turns like a sports car (a task more affluent younger buyers demand their luxury cars perform). The 300C doesn’t disappoint, it provides both the traditional smooth luxury car ride and sports car handling – on the skidpad test the 300C obtains an impressive .84 g. Braking is also equally impressive taking only 120 feet to stop the heavy 300C.
Today some luxury marques are offering all-wheel drive (AWD) as optional on some of their models. Chrysler is no different, the 300C Luxury Series can be ordered with an AWD system. The rear-wheel drive 300C comes standard with 18 inch wheels and optional with 20 inch wheels while the AWD 300C Luxury Series is equipped with mandatory 19 inch wheels.
To those who think the reasonably priced full-size American rear-wheel drive sedan is dead. The Chrysler 300C Luxury Series proves all the naysayers wrong by offering everything we all love about those long gone big cars of the past. With that said, it passes with flying colors on this alone. However Chrysler with the 300C Luxury Series has managed to accomplish all of this with one of the finest body styles to come out of Detroit, with precise handling that tackles any road condition, and one of the finest and most opulent luxury interiors found in a modern luxury car. This car far surpasses its mission – to say it’s the modern version of the classic rear-wheel drive luxury car would be a drastic understatement. And when you consider that all this is available for a little over $40K, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Make no mistake about it the 300C Luxury Series when it comes to opulent luxury it’s the real deal. The automotive luxury brands from Europe and Japan should "be afraid, be very afraid" – there’s a new luxury flagship player on scene and it isn’t taking any prisoners and it comes from Detroit.
Written contents in this article – © 2012 Pete Dunton – All Rights Reserved