By on December 6, 2010

For the last several years the 300C has been Chrysler’s band of Spartans, fighting off the apathy and irrelevance that has threatened to overwhelm the brand. And it didn’t just keep Chrysler clawing onto relevance, but it also revived an art form that was also circling the drain: the large, RWD American car. As Cadillac moved towards a sharply-tailored, Euro-fighter positioning, the 300 became the ride of choice for everyone from traditionalist suburbanites to ghetto CEOs. And now it’s back, and like its Charger cousin, the new 300 is a subtle, delicate thing compared to its rough-hewn, unabashedly Bentley-aping predecessor. But has a more sophisticated look actually improved the 300’s appeal? Will concessions to aerodynamics and originality inspire fans of the 300, or is progress a fundamental problem for a car that seems to live in the past? One thing is certain: Chrysler needs its 300 now as badly as it ever did. [Please surf over to Motor Trend for more non-official pictures]

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57 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The 300 Edition...”

  • avatar

    As long as it keeps depreciating enough to show up on buy-here-pay-here lots within 5 years, and as long as Chinese-made 22″ rims stay below $1,000 a set, I don’t see this car’s market drying up any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Although it is an unfortunate fact that many people with questionable taste choose these cars for “expressing” themselves, it is no less true that they are very fine driving vehicles, at least in stock form.  Try a current one in Hemi or 3.5 liter form, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with that picture? Absolutely nothing. Chrysler needed to update its aging design and I believe they did a splendid job. We all have our preference for how we think they should have changed it, but no one asked me, so either I like it and buy one, or I hate it and don’t. is it the “perfect” design? Probably not, but if the influence of Fiat has made any impact as to their being more reliable, than anything is an improvement. Plus, if they can leapfrog someone else toward the upper half of of the pack for “reliability”, all the better. They become heroes.

  • avatar

    This is kinda like 2010 Mustang refresh. Small overall changes that turn “blingy” into “handsome”. I like!

  • avatar

    As a complete six-year-run vehicle the 300 did not do well.  The styling won it awards and immediate sales in year one, but if you look at the sales (especially retail sales) over time they fall off a cliff around year 3.
    The 300 was very attractive to a few, and those people bought the car when it was novel.  But the majority of car buyers who want a large sedan didn’t appreciate the styling (or anything else about the car); so they went elsewhere when they were car shopping in 2009 and 2010.
    There seems to be a mutually exclusive rationale in the marketplace that prohibits polarizing designs from having a long sales cycle.  The good volume automakers shy away from radical designs because they need the vehicle to sell well, but without severe dropoff over the lifecycle.  Most cars remain round and boring since customers show little long-lived demand of interesting designs.
    Does the B&B recommend that Chrysler should try to re-establish a fundamental business model in its current market position utilizing radical designs … or recommend that Chrysler should strive to be upscale?  Based on the commentary of the Town and Country it seems like TTAC doesn’t think Chrysler can succeed at a higher price point.  I suppose the fear is that Chrysler is crowding in on that massive (sarcasm) potential customer pool currently occupied by Buick and Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar

      I might agree with you slightly, but I also think that the car went 6 years basically unchanged.  An interior upgrade or slight refresh would likely have made a big difference.  Today, exterior-wise, I still find it a very very attractive car.

    • 0 avatar

      The 300 didn’t die because of dated styling.  It died with $4 gas in 2008 and carmageddon afterwards, exactly like every other no longer affordable interesting car no matter how fresh they were.
      The then thoroughly stale (and mechanically awful all along) PT Cruiser sold better in 2006 than any year except 2001, its first full sales year.  Remained respectable in 2007.  And collapsed in 2008 like everything else.

      A rising tide lifts all boats.

    • 0 avatar

      There were changes in 2008; they re-did the interior and the rear decklid/brakelights:
      Gas prices killed large vehicles, but compare the 300 versus other E class sedans.  The % share loss by the 300 at the retail level was disproportionate versus the competition.
      The PT Cruiser was retro and cute (or so I’ve been told). The 300 relied on styling catering towards “Ghetto CEOs” (quote from above).  Either way, Chrysler is not going to repeat intense styling with the second iteration of the PT or the 300.
      I bet the next versions will receive less initial accolades, but they will exhibit a more business-friendly annual sales volume over the life of their programs.  You don’t want massive peak volumes and a stark decline… you want steady / reasonable manufacturing shift production over the long haul.

  • avatar

    What’s the dual foglight-looking object on the passenger side air dam?

  • avatar

    Chrysler needed this to be their 2008 model, and the 2011 to be a complete redesign.

    The hard points are the same here.  There are some mechanical and chassis updates.

    Trunk should be bigger. 17 cf is barely adequate, plus the battery takes up space. Impala has it beat.

    I guess Chrysler did the best with what they had.  You can’t completely redesign a unibody car from the ground up every two or three years; it’s cost-prohibitive.

    Maybe enough people won’t notice?

  • avatar

    I thought that the previous gen 300 was WAY better looking than the Charger.  Exact opposite reaction now.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.
      The old Charger was a squared off car trying to look smooth and failing at it.  With more glass and better curves the 2011 has it nailed.  Now it’s the 300 with conflicted styling. A smooth car with a few abrupt cues that don’t work.

  • avatar
    That guy

    It was a very good up date if you ask me.  The styling is more grown up/refined and the interior (what we’ve seen of it) looks to be greatly improved.  The chassis was tweaked for a more refined ride/handling package and the lackluster V6s were replaced with the pretty good 3.6L.  I see only one thing worth complaining about, the 5spd auto.  The 8spd is coming, but until it does, the 5spd is a valid complaint.  If prices remain close to the 2010 models (all the other Chrysler updates did), then this is a pretty good value as well.

  • avatar

    An elegant and sophisticated update. This will be HUGE for Chrysler.

  • avatar

    Nice, but the hood falls away a little bit too quickly at the front.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    From the foot it looks like a dead ringer for a 2nd Generation Lexus LS400.
    To paraphrase Dom Deluise playing Ceaser in History of the World: Part Two…
    “It looks nice. Not thrilling, but nice.”

  • avatar

    I don’t know… This one doesn’t have the presence of the old one at all.  I know the old one needed an update, but not much of one.  This new one just seems a lot less bold.  It doesn’t look like a big, beautiful American car anymore.  And the back end is still not quite right.  Looks a bit more like a Taurus/MKS to me now.
    Will have to see in person.  But something is wrong.  Headlights aren’t as pretty, or the grill is too small or something.

  • avatar

    It’s less distinctive, but more handsome. The blockiness of the previous design was unique when it was introduced, and still stands out (thought perhaps not as much as it did six years ago), but it was getting stale. I can see what Chrysler is trying to do here.
    When I first saw the front-end shot, the first thing I thought to myself was “Mercedes W140” (the S-Class made from 1992 to 1999). Actually, the new 300 reminds me of that big Benz from quite a few angles, and seems to have a similarly subtle yet imposing presence. Isn’t this ironic considering the history of Chrysler and especially the 300?

  • avatar

    The grille and badge make me think of those debadged generic stand-ins they use on TV when the producers haven’t got the right to display a trademark.

    In profile and rear 3/4s I’m seeing late model STS and Taurus with some pointy lights and big wheel arches.

    It reminds me of when Cadillac refreshed the 92 STS in 98 or so. The 92 STS design – not mechanicals or anything else about the car – was striking, original, and handsome. The redesign addressed structural, ergonomic and other issues, but dumbed down the controversial styling to be less distinctive, more prissy. I never liked the 300 but it was distinctive; now it’s converging and borrowing from other designs too much.

  • avatar

    I don’t think this car needed an exterior refresh nearly as much as it needed an interior. I’d be driving one of these today if the prior edition’s cabin didn’t have some of the crappiest materials available at any price point. True, I haven’t looked at one since the ’08’s, so perhaps there have been some incremental changes, but I am really hoping the insides get the Grand Cherokee treatment.
    PS – alex_rashev, you’re on it! I reflexively shout “Blingy!” every time I see one of these with the aforementioned Chinese wheels.

  • avatar

    Much, much better.  It has a very handsome and refined look now.

    I think the real surprise for everyone will be inside.  It will be Chrysler’s nicest modern interior next to the 2011 Grand Cherokee and the loaded Pacifica when it debuted originally many years ago.

    Today the only choices you have left in a comfortable/luxury, fullsize American car is the Cadillac DTS, Cadillac STS and Lincoln MKS.  Only one of them is RWD.  The Buick and Mercury entries are toast.  The DTS and STS are soon to be toast and replaced with more FWD milquetoast with a different meaningless alphabet soup name.  And the 300C will still substantially under cut them all in price while providing exceptional comfort and dynamics along with arguably better looks.

    • 0 avatar

      Somehow I doubt many people are cross-shopping the 300C with the DTS.  Or even the MKS.
      In any case, in the DTS buyer demographic (somewhere between retired and dead), it will be a rare buyer who will care about RWD vs FWD.

  • avatar

    The original car made a big, bold splash when it came out.  It was an “in your face” kind of car, and this was its appeal.  I agree with the concensus that that appeal has waned in the intervening years.
    This car is more subtle and elegant, which is where Chrysler needs to go.  If it can keep its performance (and the V6 should be much improved) and improve its reliability, this car should do pretty well.  I understand that the 8 speed is supposed to be available pretty soon.  All this car really needs are some good initial JD Power/True Delta numbers.  Style will get it started, but it needs some quality to keep them moving.

  • avatar

    unabashedly Bentley-aping predecessor
    That seems to be a consensus, one that I shared until I started reading Chrysler Concept Cars 1940-1970 by David Fetherston and Tony Thacker. That big gaping maw of a grille may be a current styling fad (see Audi, Bentley, Jaguar), but I think that in the current and new 300s, Chrysler is really pulling something from out of their own heritage. That grille shape dates to the concept cars that Virgil Exner Sr. designed and Ghia built for Chrysler in the early 1950s.

  • avatar

    I was prepared to hate this version of the 300, but from the sides and back it looks pretty stylish.  I dislike the grill, however, it reminds me of the custom tube grills everyone stuck on their 1978 Chevy trucks back in the day. 

    If the interior is as fresh as the exterior, I think they’ll have a winner.

  • avatar

    Chrysler isn’t doing as good of a job redesigning their cars as they have their CUVs/SUVs.

    The 300C redesign is alright, albeit a bit bland (nothing really new, just toning down everything from the old 300C), but the 200C is a miss.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Not as much of an improvement as with the Charger, but it should help.  How much?  That may depend more upon how the public views Chrysler than how the car looks.

  • avatar

    I agree with those who say the grill is too plain and it needs a bigger trunk.  Actually, I think the back end needs to be extended at least 6 inches.

    The biggest problem is that the car isn’t in the showroom yet.  None of the 2011 Chrysler models have hit the showrooms.   Dealers can’t sell what they don’t have.  

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Now that Pontiac is dead, this thing might have a chance, but only if people buy on looks, and looks alone.

  • avatar

    I don’t see anything wrong with this picture.
    It looks evolved, refined, and… yes… classy in a somewhat vintage American Car way. Why the hate for the chrome?
    Considering time, money, and what they had to work with, it’s impressive. I can’t wait to see the interior.
    Even better: I wonder about what will replace it. I have no doubt it will be evolutionary.

  • avatar

    not bad but the headlights remind me too much of audi, maybe should have kept them slightly blocky and do those led’s serve any real purpose?

  • avatar
    Brian E

    It needs a hood ornament badly.

  • avatar

    I can’t place my finger on what exactly is missing….but somehow, it looks incomplete. Not bad, but I still prefer the older version.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    If the quality reports confirm the 2011’s reliability and durability are acceptable I’ll look at a Chrysler 300. The front ends were falling out of the 2005s at six months.

  • avatar

    The original had a unique, bold and coherent design. This looks like a design pastiche, like a Chinese Audi knockoff. Not good.

  • avatar

    What they did is remove what made the car look dated, and by doing so, removed it’s distinguishing characteristics. Then they called it a day and left.

    Ever see the last years of the Studebaker Lark?

    There was no money to do anything except offer less of what it once had, hoping that the stripped look made it appear new.

    They should have been done three years ago. Day late and a dollar short.

  • avatar

    As a proud owner of a Studebaker Lark, I resent suggestions that the 300 looks too Lark-ish. If you go from a typical sedan of today to a Lark you will be delighted at the wonderful visibility front and rear. And I daresay this 50 year old car is even more reliable than the stuff Chrysler has been peddling. It’s pretty sad to think Chrysler is looking to Fiat to help improve quality.
    Black paint and shiny chrome are sleek, but the 300’s hard points are the same, so the car still has a too-high beltline and a squashed greenhouse. Put on 22 inch rims and it’s all Gangsta!

    • 0 avatar

      Funny how people keep bashing Chrysler. I didn’t seem to see any major problems with My 1999 Grand Cherokee, 2003 Ram, and 2008 Charger. Or my friend’s cars, two 300’s, three Chargers, 2 Magnums, and recently 4 Challengers. My car had a rattle from a cable in the dash. That’s it, in the almost 3 years I had it. I only traded it because I got the chance to get a hell of a deal on a 2010 Challenger R/T. If it is a “unreliable” as my Charger was, I’m going to be very happy.
      The high beltline and “squashed greenhouse” are two of the big selling points! For me, the greenhouse is the right size, the bigger ones just make a car really ugly, for no reason. Who cares about seeing more pavement when you look down?
      Anything over 20″ wheels just look stupid. I got 18″ ones on my Charger to avoid even the 20″ wheels that came on them. UGLY.

  • avatar

    It’s a good looking car.  It looks like it’s matured a bit compared to the outgoing model, but i also don’t care for the grille, and the tail lights make me think of Oldsmobiles from the 70’s/80,s

  • avatar

    It looks like a 2009 Hyundai Sonata, or a 1999 Camry, in other words nice, unispired, safe for middle class Americans to buy again and not look like gangstas.

  • avatar

    I for one am really getting tired of the “what’s wrong with this picture” tack that TTAC keeps taking.  So is this some sort of bully journalism that titillates its readers by disemboweling a weekly weakling before the readers’ eyes?
    Give me an article that makes the case that the Aveo really is a decent car, that Chrysler is digging its way out of hole… or really anything creative for that matter.  And if this isn’t clear enough: be positive, be factual and curb your lack of enthusiasm.

  • avatar

    I really don’t know what to think…I like the front end, but it reminds me too much of an Audi (also: Chrome mirrors?). I think it should have gotten a more “American” face because that would be more in line with what the 300 stands for. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good looking front end.
    The side view however is very American, which I also like. Unfortunately it’s not a perfect fit for the Audi like front end. But still not bad
    The trunk however looks somewhat Hyundai-esque with its unnecessary dent. They should have sticked to the clean design language of the rest of the car. Even though this is just a minor point, it almost ruins the car for me…
    Overall I preferred the predecessor in terms of general shape. This 300 however looks more classy and up-scale. But I guess I’d rather get an Audi…

  • avatar

    This is an excellent update. It brings a touch of class to a very distinctive design. Along with the new Charger, Durango, Grand Cherokee and Ram, it shows that Chrysler’s styling, at least, is still among the best. In many respects, this car has more “mojo” and better displays its American heritage in a good way than any Cadillac or Lincoln.

  • avatar

    Typically, recent Chrysler products don’t photograph as well as they look in the flesh, but this redesign looks like a winner to me. It offers a nice upgrade for the faithful, who’ve been waiting a long time for a new flagship, and a more refined appearance to appeal to a broader clientele worldwide.  I predict this will be a hit, maybe not out of the park, but a good three bagger. And please, please give us North Americans a wagon (estate) version!

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