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Second-hand: 2005-2008 Chrysler 300C

With its slab-sided flanks, bunker-sized windows and massive wheels, the 300C is the epitome of badass.

  • Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away

It’s fitting that a scarred mobster, played by Ed Harris, would come calling on Viggo Mortensen in a jet-black Chrysler 300C in the film A History of Violence.

With its slab-sided flanks, bunker-sized windows and massive wheels, the 300C is the epitome of badass.

It was an inspired moment when Chrysler decided its flagship automobile would swap a proven front-wheel-drive platform – the V6-powered Chrysler 300M – for a new chassis that spun its rear tires like God, and the late Dodge brothers, intended.

After decades of downsizing and drinking from the front-wheel-drive fountain, Chrysler’s 300 heralded the return of the big rear-drive sedan.

CONFIGURATION

While Ralph Gilles – a Haitian-American who grew up in Montreal – gave the new-for-2005 300 its distinctive look, it was partner Mercedes-Benz that donated many of its best mechanical bits.

E-class-sourced hardware included the five-speed automatic transmission, the control-arm-front and multilink-rear suspensions, rack-and-pinion steering and the electrical architecture.

Rear-drive V6s used Chrysler’s own four-speed automatic transmission. Aluminum was specified for the control arms and brake calipers to reduce unsprung weight.

The 300 was propelled by the 250-hp 3.5 L V6 yanked from the Chrysler 300M. The range-topping 300C featured another Chrysler throwback, the 5.7 L “Hemi” V8 making 340 hp and 390 lb.-ft. of torque.

In a nod to environmental stewardship, the 5.7 offered cylinder deactivation, shutting down four cylinders during limited load conditions (such as highway cruising), resulting in fuel-saving claims of up to 20 per cent.

Chrysler believed the 300 was stable in winter. But some drivers begged to differ. “Absolutely horrible on even the slightest amount of snow, even with aftermarket snow tires on all fours,” blogged the owner of a 2005 model.

Buyers could opt for all-wheel-drive hardware pilfered from the Mercedes’ parts bin. With the 4Matic system, the Mercedes-designed five-speed automatic transmission graced the V6 model.

The burly SRT-8 model arrived halfway through the 2005 model year. It included a new 425-hp, 6.1 L Hemi V8 as well as embossed leather seating, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, sport-tuned suspension and Brembo brakes.

Chrysler added an elongated body style for 2007, with a 15-cm-longer wheelbase, assembled by Accubuilt for the American livery market. All 300 models for 2008 got a revised dashboard and front fascia.

ON THE ROAD

The V6 models can sprint to 96 km/h in eight seconds, while the V8-powered 300C (V8s get the “C” suffix) can do it in 5.9 seconds. The SRT-8 has a sprint time of 4.7 seconds to highway velocity.

Thanks to its Teutonic breeding, the 300 handles well in the corners and provides a decent ride, although some felt the suspension was overly stiff.

WHAT OWNERS REPORTED

Built in nearby Brampton, the 300 is a local hero that has won fans.

“There was no shortage of power whatsoever with this car, even with the V6, and I found the engine to be a smooth and willing runner,” reader Steve Chilton wrote of his 2005 AWD model.

Owners adored the car’s bold styling, muscular drivetrains, refined handling and good use of space.

But early production models exhibited a tendency to pull to the right, which was corrected. The cars do have a voracious appetite for tires; plenty of owners reported replacing rubber relatively early on.

Electrical faults were also noted, especially power windows that wouldn’t operate. Some drivers said visibility to the sides and rear of the 300 was poor and awful, respectively, and the air conditioner was criticized for its meagre output.

All things considered, though, the 300 is a game-changing automobile for Chrysler, and a good used-car purchase to boot.

We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Toyota Camry, Ford F-150 and Smart Fortwo. Email: toljagic@ca.inter.net.

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