There’s typically quite a bit of turnover on annual lists of automotive favorites, for the simple reason that cars are always getting better and last year’s star might be this year’s incentive-laden also-ran. But the Chrysler 300C, three years into production, has maintained its unchallenged domination for the title of Signature American Sedan. While Ford pushes Crown Vics designed by the ancient Sumerians and Chevy serves up anonymous front-wheel-drive Impalas, Chrysler offers Hemi madness in 340-hp or 425-hp flavors. For entry-level BMW or Mercedes-Benz money, you get a serious big-boy car with a tugboat torque curve and styling that still draws stares. And speaking of Mercedes, shared Merc parts baked into the 300C make it a better (and less expensive) car–check out the cruise-control stalk, pretty much straight out of Lindsay Lohan’s $185,000 SL65 AMG.
Nearly every car has an Achilles heel, some downfall that causes people to say, “Yes, it’s a great car, but . . . ” You’re hard-pressed to find a major fault with the 300C. It’s fast. It looks cool. It rides nicely, yet, thanks to its Mercedes-derived independent rear suspension and rear-wheel drive, doesn’t mind getting chucked into a corner. Ah, but surely this is a gas-guzzler, right? Nope. In 5.7-liter Hemi guise, even with the all-wheel-drive option, the V-8’s Multi-Displacement System allows the 300C to manage 24 mpg on the highway.
While the price is right (about $35,000 for a 300C or $43,195 for the SRT8, pictured above), the 300’s appeal transcends its sticker. With apologies to the Cadillac STS-V, this is the best expression of the American muscle sedan that you can buy–at any price. To wit: Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has career earnings in the neighborhood of $126 million. It’s safe to say, then, that he can fill his garage with anything he pleases. Among his toys is a silver 300C SRT8.
Except, by dint of its four-door body, the 300 isn’t a toy. It’s a practical, roomy daily driver that just happens to stick out of the entry-luxury family sedan blandscape like Pink at a meeting for Oprah’s Book Club. You should want one.