2001 Chrysler 300M Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D

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2001 Chrysler 300M
Mitch McCullough, Editor-in-Chief

Designed as an American sports sedan, the 300M is a contemporary interpretation of Chrysler's historic letter cars sold from 1955 to 1965. Its suspension is tuned on the firm side to deliver the handling and performance benefits associated with European sedans. It isn't a BMW 5 Series, but its handling is exceptional for a full-size front-wheel-drive sedan and that makes the 300M a joy to drive.

Safety has been improved for 2001 with optional front side airbags. Also, a three-point shoulder belt has been added to the rear center seat as standard equipment. Model Lineup
Retailing for $29,640, the 300M comes with a 3.5-liter V6 and AutoStick transmission. One model is available.

An optional performance handling package ($560) includes a high-performance suspension, steering, brakes and tires. Otherwise, options are limited to a few items: power moonroof ($895), chrome wheels ($750), premium stereo system ($515). Walkaround
300M sports European design cues: short overhangs, a high rear deck, big tail lamps. An aggressive front end adds to its sports appeal. Chrysler exports the 300M to Japan and Europe.

New tail lamps with a clear lens design distinguish the 2001 model. New 17-inch silver wheels, chrome exhaust tips and bright side window moldings freshen the appearance further. Interior
300M's interior was designed to be functional, yet inviting, with the purposeful look of a performance sedan. Simple flowing shapes grace the interior. The dash is sleeker, more organic, and less cluttered than a Cadillac Catera. The 300M interior shares much in common with the Chrysler LHS, but some of the details, such as the shifter surround, are more elegant in the 300M. Surfaces are soft to the touch for a luxurious feel. No seams are visible where the passenger airbag resides. Elegant white-faced analog gauges, surrounded by a thin chrome bezel, use electroluminescent lighting. Stylish typefaces give them a classic look and an attractive analog clock in the center of the dash carries the theme through. Major controls use large twist dials.

Leather-trimmed seating and heated front seats with personalized memory controls on the driver's side are standard. 300M offers a bit more rear headroom than the LHS, but the LHS has the edge in legroom. The trunk hinges were designed to not intrude into the cargo space when the trunk lid is closed. Details like that make life seem just a bit more luxurious.

In addition to its five seat belts and optional front side airbags, safety features on the 300M include next-generation front air bags, child-protection rear door locks, upper interior trim impact protection and an inside emergency trunk release. It comes standard with ABS and traction control. The doors lock automatically once underway (though they can be programmed not to do this). Child seat-top tether anchors have been added to the rear shelf panel. An anti-theft system comes standard. Steering wheel audio controls manage a nine-speaker Infinity stereo. A four-disc CD changer mounted in the instrument panel is optional. Driving Impressions
Designed to compete with the Cadillac Catera, Lexus ES 300, Infiniti I30, and Lincoln LS, Chrysler's 300M is a full-size sports sedan. It feels stable at high speeds. The steering is direct and precise. The ride quality is smooth, yet the car feels connected to the road-it doesn't isolate the driver from what's going on. We felt confident on a wet, winding road through Georgia's Chattahoochie National Forest in spite of vertical drops on the outsides of the turns.

A 3.5-liter high-output aluminum V6 delivers 253 horsepower and 255 foot-pounds of torque to the front wheels of the 300M. Designed to deliver strong torque like a V8, this V6 features 24 valves and single overhead cams. Mid-grade 89-octane gasoline delivers the best performance, but it will run fine on 87 octane. The 2001 300M meets Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) standards.

300M comes standard with DaimlerChrysler's AutoStick transmission, which gives the driver a choice of conventional automatic operation or manual control.

Plenty of power is on tap for accelerating off the line, climbing mountain roads and passing other cars. The engine is smooth and quiet, but growls when provoked. A broad torque curve means it's ready to provide instant throttle response at any speed. Chrysler's AutoStick is entertaining on the daily commute and gives the driver better control on winding roads. Usually, though, we found normal automatic operation the best way to go. It's an efficient transmission that selects the appropriate gears and does not hunt excessively.

The suspension is shared with Chrysler's LHS, but the 300M is tuned more aggressively. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard. Electronic traction control is also standard for improved control when accelerating on slippery surfaces. All-season Michelin touring tires are standard and provide good handling characteristics on wet or dry roads with low tread noise and good snow traction. All tires are size P225/55R17.

An optional $560 handling package (standard on European-market 300M models) includes firmer strut damping, taller rear jounce bumpers, a firmer feeling steering gear, Michelin HX all-season performance tires, high-performance brake linings, stiffer front brake calipers and externally vented brake rotors. The suspension tuning is designed for a more controlled ride, sharper steering response, improved stability in transient maneuvers and increased cornering grip. The Michelins should provide better cornering traction on dry and wet roads, but may not perform quite as well on snow and ice. The brakes are designed to increase stopping ability, enhance pedal feel and resist brake fade in hard use.

The standard suspension works extremely well and provides the driver with a bit more control than the LHS. Steering response is also slightly quicker than the LHS. 300M noise and vibration are not quite at Lexus levels; a small amount of wind noise can be heard and a bit of road vibration comes through. But, overall, the 300M feels like a refined luxury sports touring sedan. Summary
Chrysler has produced a full-size car for people who like to drive. The 300M is a sports sedan with performance and handling that belies its size. An exciting exterior design and an elegant interior with all the creature comforts add to its appeal. Best of all, it's available for a price that makes it even more attractive.

Model as tested
300M ($29,640)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Bramalea, Ontario, Canada
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
300M ($29,640)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual front airbags, ABS, traction control standard; front side airbags optional
Safety equipment (optional)
3.5-liter sohc 24v V6
4-speed automatic with AutoStick

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning with climate control, leather-trimmed interior with heated bucket seats and 6-way power adjustments with memory feature, 240-watt AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with nine speakers, power windows, power mirrors with memory, automatic day/night inside mirror, speed-sensitive automatic door locks, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt steering column, aluminum alloy wheels, foglamps

Engine & Transmission
3.5-liter sohc 24v V6
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
253 @ 6400
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

J.D. Power Rating
Overall Quality Not Available
Overall Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Overall Quality - Design
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Design
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Design
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Design
Not Available

Overall Dependability Not Available
Powertrain Dependability
Not Available
Body & Interior Dependability
Not Available
Feature & Accessory Dependability
Not Available

J.D. Power Rating Legend
Among the Best
5 / 5
Better than Most
4 / 5
About Average
3 / 5
The Rest
2 / 5

* The J.D. Power Ratings are calculated based on the range between the car manufacturer or car model with the highest score and the car manufacturer or car model with the lowest score. J.D. Power generates a rating of a five, four, three, or two. If there is insufficient data to calculate a rating, a dash (—) is used in its place.

J.D. Power Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards, visit the Car Ratings page to learn more about awards and ratings.

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