Car of the Year 2005 Chrysler 300C
The Chrysler 300, as proven by multiple sightings of black, white, and blue variants on the roads of Napa Valley, cannot claim exclusivity as one of its trademarks. While only several dozen fortunate owners will pocket the keys to the convertible version of the Lamborghini Murciélago each year, thousands of drivers have already acquired the new Chrysler. But many thousands more will fall under the Chrysler’s spell because of the car’s excellence, which is enhanced by a 5.7-liter V-8 engine in the 300C version.
Most of the entries in this year’s competition flaunt dashboards with cavalcades of buttons and switches and gauges promising to massage backs, optimize climates, and balance the national budget, but the 300C, with its comparatively spartan amenities, bases its appeal on three basic tenets: power, styling, and comfort. The Chrysler excels at all three, and most important, the car provides these virtues at a discount that our Car of the Year guests found impossible to ignore. The buttery 300C gobbled up the roads of St. Helena, smoothing out the few bumps and holes that mark the smaller side avenues, while its muscular stance and Bentley-like grille turned heads like no other American sedan can.
Collectively, our corps of judges—whose garages house Mercedes-Benz SL55s, Aston Martin Vanquishes, and Porsche 911s—could purchase a healthy slice of DaimlerChrysler. Nevertheless, during the dinnertime discussion that followed the day of test-drives, one sentiment was expressed continually when debating the appeal of the 300C. “Good value,” said Ann Colgin. “Great value,” said Bruce A. Erickson. “Fantastic value,” said Steve Levitan. Clearly, that Chrysler could produce a 340 hp, rear-wheel-drive sedan with a signature look and melt-in-your-seat comfort for $33,500 was an accomplishment that impressed our guests.
The 300C affirms that luxury can be commensurate with value, and given the multitude that appears on our highways—looming in mirrors and charging down left lanes—the car could signal a renaissance for big, bold, American design.
Engine 5.7-liter V-8
Power 340 hp at 5,000 rpm
Torque 390 ft lbs at 4,000 rpm
Zero-to-60 time 5.3 seconds
Top speed 130 mph
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 120 inches
Curb weight 4,066 pounds
Base price $33,500