Making its first pubic appearance in Detroit, the 2011 Chrysler 300 benefits from a comprehensive makeover that touches on virtually every key element of its design. The flagship of Chrysler's sedan fleet has stepped up its overall game, enhancing sinister exterior styling cues with more contemporary flair, gaining structural and handling refinements and adding a new dimension of luxury and elegance to its passenger compartment. Available in four different trims, including the V6-powered 300 and 300 Limited and the 300C and 300C AWD that pack a Hemi V8, this full-size four-door also arrives with a decidedly solid value story, including pricing that starts below $28,000.
While its basic proportions carry forward, the 2011 Chrysler 300 boasts a more aerodynamic overall profile. A significant part of that gain is attributable to its far more steeply-raked windshield. That, plus thinner door pillars, help improve outward visibility by 15 percent over its predecessor. Upward visibility also is enhanced thanks to a new dual-panel panoramic sunroof. Even bolder fender forms linked by a rising shoulder line and an integrated decklid lip spoiler further emphasize the Chrysler 300's aggressive persona, as do the availability of 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels.
Rounding out the 2011 Chrysler 300's exterior transformation are well-rendered fascia revamps. Up front, a new grille with seven horizontal blades finished in liquid chrome replaces the egg-crate insert used before. It's flanked by redesigned "key slot" headights that match projector beam main lamps with LED running lights to create a look that that impart a greater sense of style plus improved functionality. The LED theme also turns up out back, where the 300's new rear lamps carry the signature "light pipe" design and are complemented by a pair of 3.5-inch diameter dual exhaust outlets. As a final flourish of flash, the exterior also sports a fairly tasteful selection of brightwork accents.
Inside, the 2011 Chrysler 300 displays equally meaningful changes. Higher-grade materials, better fits and finishes and more soft-touch surfaces help redefine a quieter and more comfortable cabin that now offers available heated/cooled front buckets trimmed in Nappa leather and real wood appliqués (optional on the 300 Limited and standard on the 300C variants). Cool-looking sapphire-blue illumination adds a touch of elegance to the new main instrument cluster as well as the 300's LED ambient interior lighting. Centerpiece of its all-new dash is an 8.4-inch multifunction display used to command Chrysler's Uconnect Touch infotainment center that integrates everything from navigation and climate control to audio functions and a host of real-time traffic assists.
Beyond a long list of standards that grows ever more expansive going up the model hierarchy, the 2011 Chrysler 300 offers two main option groups on all but the entry-level variant. The Sound Group I nets a 506-watt/nine-speaker/12-channel Alpine premium audio system with 7.1 Matrix surround sound while the Safety Tec Group bring items like HID adaptive forward lighting, Forward Collision Warning with adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path detection, Park Sense front/rear park assist and more. Also on offer for the 300 Limited is an aptly named Luxury Group that includes virtually all of the best 300C-level luxo upgrades and the Garmin navigation system that's also part of the 300C kit.
The 2011 Chrysler 300 offers two distinct powertrain lineups. Beneath the hood of the 300 and 300 Limited is the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 tuned to make 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the 300C or 300C AWD brings a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that cranks out 370 horses and incorporates cylinder-deactivating Fuel Saver Technology. Both engines will be backed by a five-speed "Auto Stick" automatic transmission, and the 300C AWD package incorporates Chrysler's segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle disconnect package that automatically decouples the front wheels when AWD is not required and further helps improve fuel economy.
To take full advantage of the new 300's far stiffer, stronger unit body, Chrysler engineers also made major changes to the chassis tuning and suspension geometry. In addition greatly improving cabin isolation they endow the car with far better responsiveness and handing precision, whether its fitted with the standard Comfort-tuned setup or the Touring-tuned upgrade that's standard on the 300C AWD and available on the 300 Limited and 300C fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels.
The 2011 Chrysler 300 goes on sale in the spring. Pricing will open at $27,995, with 3200 Limited at $31,995, 300C at $38,995 and the 300C AWD at $41,145. As for Chrysler's slick ZF-designed eight-speed automatic transmission and a new take on the even-mightier 300 SRT8 with its 425-horse/6.1-liter Hemi, they're still lurking somewhere off in the distance.