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First Test: 2011 Chrysler 300C V-8


To hear Chrysler tell it, the 2005 300 was the most awarded new car in the history of wheeled vehicles. Whether that's the case or not, it sets a dauntingly high bar for the 2011 car. Perhaps it's appropriate, then, that the car wears a new set of wings on its hood.

The 2011 CHRYSLER 300C is more than just a new car, though. It's a new way of thinking for a company that desperately needed a course correction. Chrysler's plan to defend its honor from the critics placed one priority before all others: the customer. The company's engineers and designers say that every last detail went through multiple consumer clinics with owners not of Chryslers but of luxury marques including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. If the consumers didn't like the way the fan control knob on the dash felt, it went back to the drawing board and wasn't cleared for production until they signed off.

 That's hardly a revolutionary idea. Automakers have been running clinics for decades. The difference this time is that Chrysler seems to have listened. After all, what consumer dropped into the Seat of a last-generation CHRYSLER 300C and said, "There's nothing here that could've been done better?" There was room for improvement, and Chrysler found it.

This newfound commitment to customer satisfaction is the most obvious inside. Gone are the bulky shapes and hard plastics, and in their place are smooth lines and high-quality materials. Everything is soft-touch plastic, with real leather and wood trim that looks like it was hand-carved. The truck steering wheel has been banished, as has the old Mental Hospital Green backlighting, replaced by cool ice blue lights. The clock-face gauges have been pumped up with rich detailing, and the new 8.4-inch touch screen navigation and entertainment system is refreshingly easy to use. In response to customer requests, Chrysler even went so far as to add redundant climate and audio controls below the touch screen for the most commonly used functions.

Chrysler's commitment to self-improvement is also evident as you hit the road. The 300C's interior is whisper quiet, and the ride is soft enough to transport newborns on cobblestone roads with nary a peep. Sans kids, the optional Alpine stereo can be turned up to ear-splitting levels without provoking any rattles. Is this really a Chrysler?

(Source)


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