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Chrysler 300C 2006 review

Big and bold in an almost threatening manner, Chrysler's 300C is a family car with a difference.

Let's talk about the styling first, because we’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to discuss it in detail as soon as they see this new Chrysler. The 300C is big, bold and deliberately different in its squared-off aggression. It’s all sharp angles and positive lines, from its huge egg-crate grille, over the chop-top style roof, to its square boot. Blokes just love this car and the word ‘gangster’ came up more than once…

The blokes are also very impressed by its relatively low price and the fact that it can do an excellent job as a family car.

But we got a surprise when the ‘everyday driver’ member of our test team, my wife Shirley, who has absolutely no interest in things like exhaust notes, steering precision, throttle control and other items much loved by driving enthusiasts, made her decision on the Chrysler.

Given the choice of the 300C or a large, diesel-engined 4WD to drive to her exercise class this morning, she walked straight past the American machine. “It’s like a tank to drive,” she muttered, “I don’t like it”.

Which has to be a warning to the blokes; partners who are willing to put up with a lot on the automotive front to keep their husbands happy may well draw the line at this one.

In the driving seat of the 300C you’re a long way from the front of the car. Firstly there's a large dashtop that’s almost to people-mover dimensions, then a small letter-box windscreen, followed by a very long bonnet. You do seem to be a long way from the action and we can understand some not liking the sensation.

It’s much the same when you look backwards, the tail’s a long way away and, despite its height, is not visible from the driving seat. However, a lot of the guesswork is removed by the parking sensors that are fitted as standard.

2006 Chrysler 300C. 2006 Chrysler 300C.

The big Chrysler has good legroom, headroom and shoulder space for four large adults. There's sufficient width in the centre of the rear seat for another one, though the transmission tunnel probably means its most comfortably occupied by a child. 

It comes as no surprise that there's a huge boot under that big square tail. It has a nicely regular shape and can carry bulky items with ease. But there's a long stretch under the back window to reach the far end of the boot.

Versatility is another feature, the rear-seat backrest can be folded down, in a 60/40 split, to permit long loads to be carried.

The 300C's Hemi engine is an old-style pushrod, two-valve number, but high-tech cylinder-head design and a sophisticated engine management system give it plenty of punch without using too much fuel.

Not that it’s economical in absolute terms. Despite running for most of the time on only four of its eight cylinders during easy motorway cruising, it still managed to consume 11 to 13 litres per hundred kilometres during that stage of our test period. That quickly rose to the wrong side of 15 litres per hundred in suburban work. 

A five-speed automatic transmission with manual overrides takes power to the back wheels. It’s smooth and pleasant to sit behind and the oodles of torque produced by the big-cube V8 means it has a pretty easy life.

Australian 300Cs have what Chrysler calls ‘international’ specifications in their suspension. But there are still fairly strong traces of traditional American feel. The dampers take longer than Australians are accustomed to stop oscillations following bumps and dips in the road. And there's some lateral movement of the body on the suspension before the Chrysler changes direction. None of this is anywhere near as extreme as in American cars of yesteryear.

The comfort offered by this big American sedan will make all but the most enthusiastic of Australian drivers enjoy the easy cruising that’s the chief feature of the 300C's suspension setup.

Road grip is comparatively high and there's plenty of safety built into the traction-control-assisted suspension setup.

The Chrysler 300C comes to Australia at a very reasonable starting price of just $53,990. That’s for the 3.5-litre V6 engine, but almost all private buyers are paying an additional $6000 to get the Hemi 5.7-litre V8. Not all that extra money goes into the bigger engine, the interior also features genuine timber inserts in the interior trim that add to the ‘gangster car’ image, as well as an upgraded Boston Acoustic audio system with a six-CD changer.

Model Range

300C 3.5-litre four-door sedan - $53,990
300C Hemi 5.7-litre four-door sedan - $59,99

Pricing Guides

$11,995
Based on 24 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,888
Highest Price
$22,987

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.5 V6 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $9,888 – 12,499 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 3.5 V6 Pricing and Specs
5.7 Hemi V8 5.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $8,888 – 16,717 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 5.7 Hemi V8 Pricing and Specs
CRD 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $9,990 – 12,999 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 CRD Pricing and Specs
SRT8 6.1L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,885 – 22,987 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 SRT8 Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$3,000

Lowest price, based on 14 car listings in the last 6 months

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