Used Chrysler 300C review: 2005-2012
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For some reason the guys and gals at Chrysler Australia don’t like their 300C being called the ‘gangster car’. Which we can’t quite understand because it sounds like a great selling point to us. Just look at the love-it-or-hate it shape of the first model and see what you think.
For the record, when the 300C was launched in Australia in November 2005 we immediately ticked the ‘love it’ box.
Buyers of cars like this are seldom satisfied with following the boring crowd and the moment they buy the car they start to add individual touches, some of them outrageous - which ticks another box for us.
Only sedans came off the boats in November 2005, the first station wagons arrived in Oz eight months later, in June 2006.
Though there’s no doubting that the all-new model introduced in July 2012 is a Chrysler 300, its appearance has been toned down from that of the original. It’s far from being mainstream, but the our much-loved gangster look has gone, sob.
The big Chrysler has good legroom, headroom and shoulder space for four adults. There's sufficient width in the centre of the rear seat for another person, though the transmission tunnel steals a fair bit of comfort from that position. As is often the way, four adults and a smallish child is a better load.
There's a huge boot in the tail of the sedan, and it has a nicely regular shape so can carry bulky items with ease. However, there's a long stretch under the back window to reach the far end of the boot. The rear-seat backrest can be folded down, in a 60/40 split, to permit long loads to be carried.
Chrysler 300C wagon’s luggage area is reasonably large, but not to the expansive extent as that of our homegrown Commodore and Falcon.
The original edition of the Chrysler 300C isn’t particularly easy to drive. You sit a long way from the front of the car, staring over a large dashtop, then through a small letter-box windscreen, and over a very long bonnet. The 300C’s tail is also a long way away and the sedan’s bootlid is not visible from the driver’s seat. Standard rear parking sensors relieve the problem. The new model of 2012 answers many of these criticisms.
The 300C's V8 petrol engine is an old-style pushrod, two-valve number, but good cylinder-head design and a sophisticated engine management system that can cut-out four cylinders during easy running. It produces plenty of V8 punch and sound without being excessively thirsty.
If the 5.7 litres of the first 300C V8s isn’t enough why not go for the 6.1-litre SRT (Sports & Racing Technology) models? Not only do you get more grunt, but also a sports chassis to further increase driving pleasure. The SRT engine was lifted to 6.4 litres in the new 2012 SRT8.
For those who want less performance(!!) there are V6 turbo-diesel and V6 petrol engines on offer. It comes as no surprise that the V8 Hemi engine is by far the most popular. If you do find a turbo-diesel on the used-car scene, be aware it may have been a hire limo in a previous life.
Australian 300Cs have what Chrysler calls ‘international’ specifications in their suspension. However, there are still traces of the traditional American softness. The upside is comfortable cruising. The exception is the SRT8 with its muscle car setup.
Chrysler is reasonably well represented in Australia with, naturally enough, most dealerships being in metro areas. Chrysler was connected with Mercedes-Benz for a while, these days its controlled by Fiat. You may find a crossover with the European marques at your local dealership, we suggest asking the question before proceeding with purchase
Spare parts for the 300C cost more than those for Commodores and Falcons, but aren’t outrageously expensive. These big cars have good underbonnet space so working on them is easy. Amateur mechanics can do quite a bit of work due to the simple layout and components.
Insurance isn’t overly expensive. Some companies charge quite a bit more for the SRT8, others only increase their premiums by a modest amount. As always, make sure you study the fine print before making your final decision on insurance.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Quite a few 300Cs do time as limousines and are favourites with those bored with the usual German and Australian limos. Diesels tend to be the more popular choice with the limo companies despite the ‘V8 gangster car’ image. Look for a car with a lot of wear in the rear seat and the boot.
Watch out for a Chrysler 300C that has been customised to the max as it may have been driven hard to prove some sort of a point. Then again, many are used only as cruisers.
Uneven tyre wear is probably a sign of hard driving, perhaps even burnouts or doughnuts. Check inside the wheel wells for evidence.
Lowered suspension and/or huge wheels may have led to a Chrysler 300 crunching on kerbs or bottoming on speed bumps. If unsure, get a professional to put the car on a hoist and do a complete inspection.
Look for crash repairs: paint that doesn’t quite match and a ripply finish are the easiest to spot. If there’s the slightest doubt call in an expert - or call off the car...
Make sure the engine starts easily. The V8 will have a slightly lumpy idle - beautiful! - but if a V6 petrol or diesel doesn’t idle smoothly there may be hassles.
CAR BUYING TIP
Check logbooks for evidence of routine maintenance. Also, compare the distance travelled in these books with the reading on the car’s odometer. We’ve seen more than one car that’s done a lot more miles on paper than shown on the speedo...
Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 183kW/340Nm, 3.0-litre 6 cylinder diesel 160kW/510Nm, 5.7-litre V8 265kW/528Nm, 6.1-litre V8, 317kW/569Nm
Body: four-door sedan
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, RWD
Thirst: from 10.5L/100km (diesel) to 14.2L/100km (STR-8)
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|3.5 V6||3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$10,230 – 14,080||2005 Chrysler 300C 2005 3.5 V6 Pricing and Specs|
|5.7 Hemi V8||5.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$10,010 – 13,640||2005 Chrysler 300C 2005 5.7 Hemi V8 Pricing and Specs|
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