2000 Chrysler 300M

2000 Chrysler 300M Prices
Blue Book® Suggested Retail Value
2000 Chrysler 300M Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy (city/hwy)
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2001 Chrysler 300M

This 2001 review is representative of model years 1999 to 2004.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

A highly qualified American import-fighter sport sedan.
Pros:
  • Fast
  • Distinctive
  • Spacious
  • Excellent handling
  • Upscale interior
Cons:
  • Uncomfortable "performance" option
  • Small audio controls
  • Needs refinement

Many owners of the first Chrysler 300 probably would give a thumbs-up to the current model, which stacks up well against costlier foreign sport sedans.

The 1955 C-300 was the initial 300 model. It was the first American car with a 300-horsepower engine since the supercharged 1930s Duesenberg, which was a low-volume auto strictly for wealthy folks.

Colorful Heritage
The $29,640 300M was designed to compete with foreign sport sedans before Daimler-Benz bought control of Chrysler. Unlike most American high-performance cars, the equipment-loaded 300M has a colorful heritage, which Chrysler heavily emphasizes in promoting the car.

As with the cleanly styled C-300, which became an instant champ on the NASCAR stock car racing circuit, the slick 300M is big, fast, luxurious and generally affordable.

The C-300 was a two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe powered by Chrysler's famous-but-complex "Hemi" V8, which got its nickname from ultra-efficient hemispherical combustion chambers.

Derived From LHS
But times change. Big U.S. coupes haven't sold well for years, which is partly why the 300M is a sedan The 3,591-pound 300M also has a 4-door body, along with front-wheel drive and a potent V6, because it's derived from the front-drive Chrysler LHS sedan, which has the same drivetrain.

But let's not throw bricks because the legendary 1955-65 Chrysler 300 coupes and convertibles also were derived from regular Chrysler models for the same reason: to hold down costs.

New Features
The 300M still is relatively new, so there are few new features for 2001. They include optional side airbags up front and a Luxury Group option with California Walnut dashboard trim, a partial wood steering wheel and chrome shift knob insert.

Also, side mirrors now fold to prevent parking lot damage, and there is a new internal emergency trunk release.

Potent V6
A V8 would be nice, but the 300M's 253-horsepower V6 performs like a good V8. And the 3.5-liter engine has features classic 300 V8 models lacked, such as an overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder. The V6 provides strong acceleration and loafs at 2300 rpm at 70 mph.

The engine works with a responsive 4-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted like a clutch-less manual.

Fuel economy isn't bad for such a big, fast car—an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. I only got in the low- to mid-teens in town, but actual highway economy matched the estimated figure.

Roomy Interior
The 300M shares a 113-inch wheelbase with the LHS, but is 9.9 inches shorter because it's offered in foreign markets where a smaller size car is necessary in urban areas. But there still is impressive room for four big, tall adults—or five in a pinch. However, the rakish styling causes rear doors to have an elongated shape that hinders entry and exit.

The trunk is impressively large. Its opening is low, but should be shaped to allow easier loading of bulky cargo. Also, reaching objects at its far end calls for an awkward stretch. A 60/40 split-folding rear seatback significantly increases cargo capacity.

The 300M has key styling differences—inside and out—that make it look sportier than the LHS, which is aimed at traditional U.S. luxury-car buyers.

Handling Option for Buffs
The $560 Performance Handling Group option now has 17-inch wheels, instead of last year's 16-inchers. This option allows sharper handling and braking. But leave it to hard-core buffs because it provides uncomfortably stiff steering, a clunky "performance"-tuned suspension and aggressive tires that generate tiring road noise.

The option shows DaimlerChrysler still has a ways to go to make the 300M as refined as, say, a BMW.

Besides, the 300M without the option has 17-inch wheels, an all-independent sport suspension, wide tires that aren't noisy and easily modulated brakes. The result is a supple ride and excellent road manners.

Easily Driven Fast
The solidly built 300M is easy to safely drive fast—as I found during a quick trip from Chicago to Detroit during blizzards that left many vehicles in ditches on the sides of interstate highways.

There's too much average-looking plastic in the interior, which has comfortable front seats and is quiet unless the 300M has the Performance Handling Group option.

The ornate gauge markings look as if from a classic 1930s Bugatti. But they occasionally make the instruments hard to read quickly, compared to conventional sport sedan instruments. The markings make it seem like the 300M is straining for visual effect.

Anyway, the small analog dashboard clock is a nice touch. Not so nice are the small audio and climate controls that call for too much driver attention. But the power window controls are strategically positioned on the driver's door and cupholders are large. Powerful windshield washer jets show good attention to detail.

Sport sedan fans who like a bargain should love the accomplished 300M.

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BB01 - 4/16/2014 3:27:19 AM