2011 Chrysler 300

The 21st Century icon is remade for a second round.

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Story: Marcus Amick

Model Tested: C

Shooting for the follow-up to a ride like the Chrysler 300 is like trying to fill LeBron James’s shoes with the Cleveland Cavaliers. You’ve got to do something to stay in the game, but where do you start?

Betting on the popularity of the last generation, Chrysler kept most of the original lines intact for 2011. The new model features a few unique styling cues, including Chrysler’s new grille, a more sculpted hood and new headlights with LED daytime running lamps. The 300 lineup comes in Base, Limited and “C” trim, which comes standard with a rear deck-lid lip spoiler, new taillights and optional 20-inch wheels.

Trouble is we’ve seen so many tricked-out versions of the previous model that you could easily mistake the 2011 for just another customized 300. It’s not until you’re behind the wheel that you really get a sense of how different the new car is from the old.

With real wood accents complementing an all-new instrument face with sapphire-blue lighting, the interior of the new model has undergone a complete makeover. Chrysler’s 300C (still powered by the legendary and slightly tweaked 5.7-liter V8 Hemi) is also more responsive on the road thanks to a stiffened chassis and a finely tuned suspension, which provides well-composed road manners and a happy mixture of luxury and sporty responsiveness. Plus, the available all-wheel drive is a great option for a car in this class. The Base and Limited models are equipped with a fresh V6 engine generating 292 horsepower, which is a great improvement over the previous garbage V6s more suited to rental cars than something you’d like to call your own.

Other interior refinements for the 300 include Napa leather seats, a dual panoramic sunroof and an Alpine audio system with nine speakers powered by a pretty diesel 506- watt amplifier. After all, when trying to compete in a game that now has so many major players, it’s what you can dig up inside that’ll give you the edge.

Specs:

Damage: $43,475

Power: 363hp, 394 lb.-ft.

0-60: 5.7 secs.

Gas Cash: 16 city, 25 hwy

Miles Driven: 250

Interior: With all-new comfort features and extra room for front and rear passengers, good luck finding a better car for rolling deep.

Exterior: Most of the changes in the exterior design are too subtle to notice on the road, but there’s talk of adding a matte-finish model under a new “S” line, which would stand out.

Floss Factor: Playing with the hands-free Uconnect Touch multimedia system will definitely impress that hot chick you’ve been trying to holler at.

Flaw Factor: Though the last generation’s exterior design was groundbreaking, the 2011 model doesn’t have quite the same wow factor on the street.