3/4 Front Glamour 2005 Chrysler 300

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Introduction

For some time Chrysler has been threatening to re-invent the sedan back to the way it used to be. And now they've done it. The all-new 2005 Chrysler 300 is the first big rear-wheel-drive sedan to come out of Chrysler in many years. It replaces the front-wheel-drive LH line, which Chrysler has used for years. Back then, there were engineering cases for front-wheel drive, including reduced manufacturing costs and more compact packaging. But new technology has made rear-wheel drive preferable again. Traction control, electronic stability programs, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brake distribution all improve the driver's ability to control the car. And one thing hasn't changed: Rear-wheel drive is much better than front-wheel drive for managing horsepower. The 300C, which comes with a 340-horsepower Hemi V8, is too powerful for front-wheel drive. The 300 might be a case of back to the future, but there's little that's retro about it, except maybe the giant grille, with a shape like the 1958 300C. The Chrysler 300 was introduced in 1955 with an engine having hemispherical combustion chambers, called the Hemi; it also had two four-barrel carburetors, and it achieved early fame as the most powerful engine built by Detroit, winning the NASCAR championship in its first year and setting top speed records on the beach at Daytona. There have been some successful Chrysler 300s along the way, but nothing to match the impact of the '55. One of the advantages of front-wheel drive is traction in snow, but that too has been erased over the years. To prove the 300's traction and handling in snow, Chrysler invited automotive journalists to its testing facility on a frozen lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in early March, and the 300 received excellent reviews. All-wheel drive will be available for drivers who want more traction. The Chrysler 300's styling is distinctive, and its interior is roomy, efficient and stylish. The instrument panel and switchgear are easy to read and operate. Pieces of Mercedes-Benz are slipping into Chrysler cars nowadays, and the 300C features a Mercedes-like steering wheel, leather under an arc of wood at the top. While the 5.7-liter Hemi grabs the headlines, there are 2.7- and 3.5-liter V6 engines available. A standard Chrysler 300 with a 2.7-liter V6 can be had for the eye-popping low price of $23,595 including destination. You can't buy any new car that looks more expensive in your driveway for less. It's a large, modern, stylish, comfortable car for a small price. Better is the Touring model with leather, a powerful 3.5-liter V6 and all the latest active safety features. With the 300C, it's all about the growl, a sweet-sounding exhaust note coming from subtle pipes under the rear bumper. The 340-horsepower Hemi has to carry 4046 pounds, so it won't run with a Corvette, but it is plenty fast, with a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds, according to Chrysler. At the same time, the ride is smooth, solid and comfortable and the cabin is very quiet. With a base price less than $33,000, that's a killer car.

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