Chrysler 300C Sedan

Price range

$43,000 – $66,000

Overall

Good: Bold & Muscular design; Spacious cabin; Value for money; Impressive engine line-up.

Not so Good: Handling is no match for the engine (that’s the 6.4-litre SRT8 of course); Cabin fit & finish refinement; No 8-Speed automatic transmission.

Design and Engineering

Good : Ever since the 300C hit our shores in October 2005 it has received a lot of attention – and for good reason.

The newest generation Chrysler 300C is poised to continue this tradition. Arriving down under in July 2012 the 300C features refined styling and sharp pricing.

The front instantly makes a bold statement with its large chrome grille and sleek headlights. The long wheelbase combined with the slab sided profile and blistered wheel arches, topped off by a ‘chopped’ roofline definitely leave a lasting impression.

The HSV fighting SRT8 grade does without a tacky bodykit and remains very understated.

Not so good : If you don’t really fancy ‘bling’, this car might not be for you, as it demands attention anywhere you go.

Interior and Styling

Good : Inside, the Chrysler 300C is very classy, the dash is covered in soft touch plastics and depending on the model – wood or carbon fibre highlight inserts finish off the cabin.

The dash features a 8.4-inch colour touchscreen multimedia system that includes Sat Nav, USB & AUX connectivity and Bluetooth Phone and Audio streaming. The analog clock that sits above the touchscreen is also a nice touch.

Sitting behind the steering wheel is a set of chrome highlighted dials that are illuminated by an ice blue colour that gels well with the elegant interior. Between the dials is a colour LCD screen that displays vehicle information such as average fuel, distance till empty and average speed.

The leather seats are very comfortable, offering up plenty of support for occupants. The steering wheel adjusts for both height and reach, allowing drivers to find the perfect driving position.

Not so good : The cabin doesn’t feel as special as we’d hoped – but than again it’s hard to match that exterior styling. Overall fit & finish could also be better (some panel gaps are a little too large).

Performance

Good : Chrysler offers up three engines in total – a turbo diesel, a petrol V6 and the heart pounding SRT V8.

Kicking things off is the 3.6-litre 6-cylinder petrol engine, producing 210kW of power and 340Nm of torque when matched to an 8-speed Sports Automatic.

Next up, the 3.0-litre 6-cylinder diesel engine, producing 176kW of power and 550Nm of torque when matched to a 5-speed automatic transmission.

Sitting at the top of the food chain is the 6.4-litre 8-cylinder petrol engine, pumping out a massive 347kW of power and 631Nm of torque when matched to a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The V6 petrol is awesome value for money buying, and best of all it’s smooth and quiet.

Not so good : The 5-speed automatic is no match for the 8-speed Sports Automatic found in the V6 petrol.

Ride and Handling

Good : The 300C features a very relaxed suspension tune, it happily cruises along at highway speeds soaking up any abnormalities in the road.

All grades are impressively quiet, thanks to the acoustic windscreen and heavy use of sound-deadening foam.

Not so good : Weighing in at over two tones the 300C isn’t the most nimble of vehicles, but that’s not to say you can’t have fun driving it. The steering could be sharper and feels a little light.

Buying and Owning

Good : The Chrysler 300C ticks all the necessary safety boxes offering customers electronic stability control (ESC), full-length side-curtain airbags, seat-mounted side thorax air bags, driver’s knee bag, dual seat belt pretensioners on front-row seats, front-row reactive head restraints, ABS, All-Speed Traction Control (ASTC), Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist, Rain Brake Support and Ready Alert Braking.

With the amount of features on offer we highly recommend the V6 petrol as it represents great value for money.

Not so good : The 3.0-litre 6-cylinder diesel engine offers up great fuel economy but comes with the old 5-speed automatic.

Chrysler Grand Voyager MPV

Price range

$57,500 – $77,500

Overall

Good: Lots of space on offer; Diesel’s impressive fuel economy; comfortable for 7 passengers – a super practical interior; we’re big fans of the Stow ‘n’ Go seating.

Not so Good: Van like styling; thirsty petrol V6 engine; high pricing.

Design and Engineering

Good : The current generation Grand Voyager arrived here in March 2008, taking on an all new design direction compared to the previous generation’s curvy styling. Chrysler focused heavily on improving interior space and usability; this is the first Voyager to feature side passenger sliding doors (electric powered on the Limited grade) on both sides. The Limited grade also comes with an electric power lift-gate.

Not so good : Externally this isn’t a striking beauty with more than a touch of the ‘big box on wheels’ look (in Chrysler’s defense it’s partly as a result of such a practical interior). Unfortunately the return to a prominent bonnet ensures the Grand Voyager look a little like a converted 70’s style commercial van (which of course it isn’t). The entry level LX grade looks even less imposing with it’s undersized 16 inch alloy wheels.

Interior and Styling

Good : The highlight here is the excellent seating system which go’s by the catchy name of Stow ‘n’ Go – enabling the second and third row seats to flip and fold fully into the floor. The conversion is quick and easy and with the seats up, there’s lots of under-floor storage. However even with all seats up and seven aboard the Grand Voyager still offers decent amounts of rear cargo space (however with a vehicle length of over 5.1metres long, we’re glad this is the case). Other highlights include the twin rear DVD screens (standard on the Limited grade) enabling a movie to be played on one, whilst a games console can be plugged into the other at the same time (or two different movies can be played at once).

All Grand Voyagers feature multi-function leather covered steering wheel, three zone climate control air-conditioning, and useful features such as seat back trays in the back of the front seats and electric windows in the second row sliding doors.

Not so good : Up front the interior should evoke a more premium feel considering the Voyager’s higher than average price. The interior plastic is nothing special; the green instrument backlighting looks boring and the large slabs of wood grain paneling inserts on the dash looks out of place against the lightly coloured plastic dash. The steering wheel adjusts for rake but not reach.

Performance

Good : The pick of the two engines is the 2.8L Turbo Diesel which generates 120kW of power and 360Nm of torque (it’s the decent torque figure which provides the biggest benefit). In isolation the 3.5L Petrol V6 (142kW and 305Nm) has sufficient ‘oomph’ to get the Voyager up to speed and keep it there.

Not so good : With a kerb weight over 2 tones, neither engine provides quick acceleration. The 2.8L Diesel engine is also a little noisy and a little slow, and we wish its optimum rev range went higher than 4,000rpm.

Ride and Handling

Good : Standard load leveling and height control helps keep the Voyager flat whether it’s just the driver in the Voyager or half the junior soccer team and their gear in crammed in the rear. Dynamics feel acceptable for such a big vehicle, with a lack of body roll. As a result the Grand Voyager is comfortable to drive and to be driven in.

Not so good : The steering feels a little vague at straight ahead.

Buying and Owning

Good : Ticks the safety box with standard dual front and knee airbags and full length curtain airbags for each of the three rows, Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control. Standard rear parking sensors as well as a tyre pressure monitoring system. The Diesel grade’s fuel economy (8.4 litre per 100kms) is impressive for a vehicle with such a large interior. The Voyager is fitted with more standard kit than the competing Toyota Tarago.

Not so good : We’d struggle to call this value buying. Yes, the Grand Voyager comes with a lot more features than say a Kia Grand Carnival, but you’re asked to pay a much, much higher price. The V6 petrol engine is disappointingly thirsty (12.3L per 100km), more so than the competing V6 powered Tarago, yet the Voyager is well behind in the power stakes (142 to 202kW).

Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Price range

$52,490 – $52,490

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA JAN 2011 Elegant exterior styling; roomy interior; competitive pricing; if you’re bored by ‘sports car’ like marketing claims and are after a more laid back convertible it’s worth a look.

Not so Good: Body rigidity and driving dynamics are below average (so best kept to the boulevard – not the race-track!); interior plastics are well behind the class best; thirsty fuel economy.

Design and Engineering

Good : The Sebring Convertible arrived in Australia in December 2007, offering V6 power and a larger than average interior (as it’s based off the medium segment Sebring sedan rather than the typical small segment derived convertibles). The folding metal roof is a three piece unit that folds away under a hard tonneau cover in a respectable 30 seconds (a neat touch is that the roof can be lowered via the key fob, so you don’t even have to be in the car!).

Not so good : The necessary high strength steel reinforcements added to the chassis and the windscreen (to ensure adequate body rigidity) adds weight – as a result the Sebring convertible weighs a hefty 1,865kg.

Interior and Styling

Good : The front seats are big, comfortable, leather trimmed, feature power adjustment and are also heated; the steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach (ensuring a greater chance you’ll be comfortable behind the wheel) and is finished in an elegant wood and leather combination; the in-car entertainment system includes a 16.5cm touchscreen and a 30GB hard drive with an impressive 4,250 song capacity! Rear seat space is class leading and roof up the boot is large enough at 356 litres.

Not so good : The interior plastics and general finishing’s are below average and the ‘tortoise shell’ wood grain trim doesn’t look real (that’s wood real, not tortoise). The front seats lack side support, however as the Sebring never tries to be sporty this could be viewed as a mute point; rear and rear ¾ vision is limited due to the thick c-pillars (that’s roof up) and roof down boot space is a small 193 litres.

Performance

Good : The 2.7L petrol V6 engine generates 137kW of power and 256Nm of torque. It’s a smooth unit and teams up well with the also smooth six speed gearbox. On the move road noise is kept impressively low with the hard top roof up. Roof down, wind noise isn’t an issue either.

Not so good : The Sebring Convertible never feels fast – mainly due to the hefty vehicle weight – as a result performance feels more like a four cylinder (however smoothness is still V6).

Ride and Handling

Good : Driven as a boulevard cruiser (surely the intended purpose), the Sebring convertible is comfortable with the suspension doing a good job of minimising harshness. The 215mm wide and large 18 inch diameter tyres aren’t the grippiest treads we’ve comes across, however they do contribute to a comforting ride.

Not so good : A little too much scuttle shake and windscreen flex is evident over rough surfaces. Further shortcomings appear when driving briskly – the handling becomes excessively floaty and looses a little composure. The steering also does little to inspire driver confidence, excessively light at low speeds and artificial of feel when cornering.

Buying and Owning

Good : Ticks the safety box with Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control and four airbags as standard; however unfortunately the Sebring Convertible misses out on pop-up safety hoops, usually located behind the passenger headrests in a convertible. Comes standard with a decent features list, including climate control air-conditioning, the 30GB hard drive entertainment system, leather interior and 18 inch alloys.

Not so good : The significantly less expensive soft top (cloth roofed) grade is no longer available; official combined fuel economy of 10.5L per 100kms is high and real world figures are likely to be even higher again; should come standard with parking sensors; the mid life facelift shouldn’t be too far away, so keep this in mind if negotiating with a Chrysler salesperson.