What's New for 2002
A special 300M debuts this year, called the Special. Designed to appeal to performance enthusiasts, the Special comes with 18-inch wheels wearing 245/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, a firmer suspension, increased-effort steering and an upgraded brake system. All 2002 Chrysler 300M models get a revised grille.
Introduced back in 1955, the original Chrysler 300 was an immense two-door coupe (and later, a convertible, too) with an equally massive V8 driving the rear wheels. Successive years saw a letter attached to the car's name (300C, 300D, and the like), though inexplicably some letters were left out of the sequence. After being killed off in the mid '60s, the 300 was revived by Chrysler in 1999. Only now it's a four-door sedan with a muscular V6 sending power to the front wheels. Well, at least it's still roomy and fast. And the new one doesn't mind going around corners or slowing down.
This year, the 300M gets spiced up with the addition of the Special model. Along with big 18-inch wheels wearing 245/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, a firmer suspension, increased-effort steering and an upgraded brake system, the Special has a few more horsepower than the standard 300M, for a total of 255 snortin' ponies. And torque swells to 285 pound-feet, an increase of 7 lb-ft.
Separating the Special from other 300Ms are dark gray ground effects, twin exhaust pipes and "300 Special" badges. Exterior color choices include Black, Deep Sapphire Blue and Bright Silver. Inside the cabin, the Special has either dark gray or two-tone light taupe/dark grey leather seating with "waterfall" style inserts. Silver-toned accents highlight the dash and doors, and a 150-mph speedometer hints at the serious performance nature of the Special.
All 300Ms come loaded, with features such as heated/power front seats, leather seating and a 240-watt Infinity sound system with CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls. A tire pressure monitoring system is now included in the optional Luxury Group, which also features real wood trim (even on the steering wheel) and auto-adjusting mirrors.
Hardware components include four-wheel independent suspension, 17-inch wheels wearing low-profile rubber, ABS and traction control. Unfortunately, an automatic gearbox is still the sole transmission, though it does have Chrysler's "AutoStick" feature, which allows manual control of the gear changes.
Though some of us don't care for certain design elements of the 300M, such as the funky headlights, chopped-off tail and gruff engine note, we agree that this Chrysler has plenty going for it. Offering room for five adults, big horsepower and surprisingly agile handling, the 300M is further proof that Chrysler has come a long way since the days of the K-car-based New Yorkers.