Let’s get this out of the way right now. Yes, our 2005 Chrysler 300C had a Hemi in it. So, to everyone at every gas station, drive-thru, car wash, church social, or what have you who thinks they’re being coy by asking, “Hey does that thing have a Hemi?” We’ll say it for the last time: Yes, it does have a Hemi.
And what a good thing that Hemi is. It’s 5.7-liters of good ‘ole American, kick-you-in-the-pants horsepower – the kind of stuff we used to dream about as Uncle Roy told us about his jet black 1968 Charger R/T with the 426 Hemi. You know, the one that had the Magnum pistol grip shifter, the Dana Sure-Grip rear end and ran low 13′s from the factory. Uncorking the exhaust put him in the 12′s, but he eventually sold it when Aunt Shirley announced to Roy that she was pregnant. Man, how he misses that car…
Back in the day, Detroit knew just how to do one thing – crank out cars with obscene amounts of power. But more recently, the boys from the motor city have been struggling to match the power of most European (and even some Japanese) sedans, so thank heavens Chrysler has rediscovered how to extract a healthy serving of HP from the Detroit power tap.
And they’ve done so in spectacular fashion – Chrysler’s 5.7-liter, pushrod activated, overhead valve, hemispherical combustion chambered motor spits out 340 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, which when summoned upon will propel the 4100-pound 300C to sixty in just over five seconds. Praise the Lord and pass the horsepower – Chrysler’s back and bigger than ever.
Perhaps the only thing more obvious than the Hemi powerplant is the styling of the 300C. With narrow window openings, high beltline and sharp edges, it’s been called everything from a gangster-mobile to a gunship. We call it gorgeous, with its masculine lines and all business body.
But there’s more to that body than good looks. The Daimler side of Daimler-Chrysler has shared a few engineering secrets with the Chrysler side, of which one of those was a nifty sheet metal forming process (known officially as Dual-phase steel) that allows the metal to be thinner (read: lighter) yet more rigid than traditional body metal. The gurus from Germany also lent a helping hand with the 300′s suspension and interior bits.
Take a peek underneath the 300C, and you’ll find plenty of aluminum bits. The front and rear axle assemblies share an uncanny resemblance to the E-class Mercedes, with cast aluminum independent suspension pieces (both front and rear). Take a closer look, and you’ll find beefy blocks of aluminum shaped to form calipers, all of which squeeze large rotors that reside behind larger, 18″ wheels.
Inside, you’ll find more Mercedes-Benz touches, like an electronic, tilt-telescoping steering column and a shift lever that mates to the Daimler-designed 5-speed automatic transmission, complete with Mercedes-esque manumatic controls. An all-wheel-drive option is available when you order either the 3.5L or 5.7L engine. Our test model wasn’t equipped with the AWD option.
We found the 300C to be extremely roomy and comfortable, offering a great driving position complete with supportive seats and a bolstered steering wheel. Gauges are well placed, and we especially liked the chrome-trimmed black on white gauges. The 300C lends an immediate impression of luxury, with a fit-and-finish that’s much better than anything in a similar price range.
Climate, radio and navigation controls are well placed, and simple to use. Our only complaint with the radio/navigation unit is that some of the radio functions can be a bit confusing to operate, but the confusion goes away as the miles accumulate.
The 300C offers a relatively quiet ride, with just a hint of wind noise and hum from the large 18-inch wheels making its way into the cabin. The kind of noise that we’ll never complain about is the sound of power, and when you plant your right foot to the floor, the 300C is more than happy to sing for you. And while the 300C is fast (our 0-60 times showed 5.4 seconds and we managed a quarter-mile time of 14-flat at just over 102-mph), it isn’t hamfisted fast. The 300C definitely conveys a feeling of confidence through its precise and controlled nature, and that translates into a great driving experience.
Thanks in part to the aforementioned German influence, the 300C feels right at home when the going gets twisty. Technically challenging switchbacks, off-camber corners and decreasing radius turns are handled with complete confidence and ease. We’ve never experienced a Chrysler so eager to tackle (and conquer) the twisty stuff. Body roll only becomes noticeable when you’re really pushing the 300C, and feedback from the leather-wrapped steering wheel is great. It conveys what’s happening under the front wheels and it responds crisply to driver input.
There’s a slight hint of understeer, but most of that can be corrected with input from the right foot. The 300C’s electronic stability system can’t be completely disabled, but it does allow for some pretty sophomoric antics. On the track, we found the stability control to be a bit intrusive, but most folks won’t be tracking their 300C.
So, how does the 2005 Chrysler 300C compare to the competition? It devastates it. The 300C has raised the bar for domestic sedans to stramospheric levels, thanks to its bold styling, potent powerplant, smooth chassis and delicious interior. Ford, Chevy (and for that matter Acura, BMW, Nissan and Toyota) take note: The 300C means business. Serious business.
- Love the styling
- Incredible driving dynamics
- Wonderful interior, with great styling, fit and finish
- Hemi, baby – Hemi!
- Available all-wheel-drive
- Would be even more fun with a 6-speed
- Stability controls can’t be fully disabled
- Everyone asks you if it has a Hemi