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The experts at TheCarConnection.com have driven several different models of the 2010 Chrysler 300—including the HEMI-powered 300C—to give you highlights and an overall impression here in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com has also researched reviews relevant to the Chrysler 300 to bring you the most useful comments in an adjacent full review.
While it may have seemed like a revelation back in 2004 when it was first introduced, the Chrysler 300 is the type of vehicle that was once very common in the U.S. market: a full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by V-6 or V-8 engines. Considering that most manufacturers are scaling back production of larger vehicles, such as Ford’s phasing out of the ancient Crown Victoria and its sibling vehicles, the Chrysler 300 and closely related Dodge Charger remain as some of the few options available for shoppers wanting this type of vehicle.
With its debut for the 2005 model year, the Chrysler 300 forged a new direction, and since then, its rather boxy but low look has aged well. It’s still a head-turner—something that can't be said of most other big sedan competitors. New for 2010 are some minor styling upgrades, including chromed door handles and front and rear fascia accents for the 300 Touring model.
A number of different trim levels are available for the 300, and they each bring a different driving experience. The base 2010 Chrysler 300 models come standard with a 2.7-liter V-6 that pumps out 178 horsepower. These versions are equipped with a standard four-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the Chrysler 300 Touring brings a 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 250 hp through a five-speed transmission, with both rear- and all-wheel drive available. The higher-spec Chrysler 300C comes with a standard HEMI V-8 that now makes 360 hp, 19 hp more than the 2008 model, while the top-of-the-line SRT8 trim offers an impressive 425-hp 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, along with sports suspension, 20-inch rims, and a number of other upgrades. There are also all-wheel-drive versions of the 300 and 300C. Last year saw the introduction of a new active-transfer case that disconnects the front axle for better fuel economy and performance, and this feature returns for 2010. Base, Touring, and Limited 300 editions offer a softer ride, thanks to the more commuter-friendly suspension, so again, the driving experience varies quite a bit. The 300C and the 300 SRT8 target the performance enthusiasts with high-horsepower HEMI engines and stiffer suspensions—stepping up to the 300 SRT8 nets drivers muscle-car performance in the form of sub-14-second quarter-mile times and a top speed of over 150 mph.
The 300 received an interior update for the 2008 model year—substantial enough to include new materials and surfaces, feeling like a significant upgrade. You'll note upscale touches everywhere, from the chrome accents to the soft-opening glove box and, in limited availability, Poplar Burl real-wood trim. There's not nearly as much backseat legroom as you might expect from such a large sedan, though seating itself is comfortable and the trunk is vast.
Meanwhile, the 2010 Chrysler 300 makes improvements to its safety credentials with some new standard safety equipment. Last year we complained that side-curtain airbags were only available as an option, even in the expensive SRT8 models, and it seems Chrysler has decided to offer side airbags as standard this year on all models. Still, there are areas for improvement—for example, the base 300 models lack standard anti-lock brakes; they’re only available as a $1,025 option package that includes electronic stability control. This is unacceptable, considering that these features have even begun appearing as standard in econo-boxes. The other niggle we have with safety is that the high beltline doesn't afford very good visibility outside, especially for shorter drivers.
Safety aside, infotainment and technology options are plentiful in the 2010 Chrysler 300. New for 2010 are keyless entry and a rear-parking assistance system, both of which are standard on the 300C. Other features include a Bluetooth connection, iPod connectivity, a six-disc changer, a MyGIG audio entertainment system, a Boston Acoustics speaker package, Sirius Backseat TV, remote start, and adaptive cruise control.