When it debuted as a 2005 model, the Chrysler 300 revived the long-dormant tradition of the full-size, high-style American performance car. While a 2.7-liter V6 was standard, and a 3.5-liter V6 optional, the engine that grabbed the headlines was the top-tier 5.7-liter Hemi V8 developing 340 horsepower.
The 300’s namesake and inspiration, the original Chrysler C-300 of 1955, was one of the defining members of the big-muscle breed, powered by the original edition of Chrysler’s famous hemispherical-head V8 known as the Hemi. With 300 horsepower from dual four-barrel carburetors and a solid-lifter cam, the C-300 achieved early fame as one of the most powerful automobiles built by Detroit. It won the NASCAR championship in its first year out, and set top speed records on the beach at Daytona.
Later 300s featured bigger Hemi engines and better-handling chassis. And now Chrysler is following this tradition, too. Released in the spring of 2005, the 2006 Chrysler 300 SRT8 upped the Hemi ante with 6.1 liters of displacement, 425 horsepower, and a chassis tuned for grand touring.
Meanwhile, Chrysler announced more than a dozen refinements across the 300 model range for 2006, including new colors, new special editions, higher levels of standard equipment, and a new DVD entertainment option integrated into the center console.
The Chrysler 300 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.
The 300C brings the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 mated to the five-speed automatic with AutoStick, in both rear-wheel versions. Also standard are 18-inch chrome wheels, dual exhaust, projector low-beam headlamps, a premium leather interior and, new for 2006, power adjustable pedals. It gets 17/25 mpg on 89 octane recommended (87 acceptable). It also has bigger and more powerful front brakes, because the engine is some 300 pounds heavier than the V6, and the car is considerably faster. The Hemi engine was brutally tested by Chrysler engineers, and is covered by Chrysler’s 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.
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