What's New for 2004
Notable upgrades on the 2004 Chrysler 300M come in the form of a six-disc changer and optional Sirius Satellite Radio. Both the 300M and 300M Special now offer a navigation system that offers voice prompts and comes with a 360-watt premium sound system.
In 1955, the original Chrysler 300 was introduced. It was a large two-door coupe equipped with an equally massive V8. Successive years saw a letter attached to the car's name (300C, 300D and so on), though inexplicably some letters were left out of the sequence. In 1965, the 300 series was dropped. Chrysler revived the series and introduced it in May of 1998 as a 1999 model. Unlike its original introduction, this version has four doors but it is still featuring a powerful engine; a strong 3.5-liter V6 with 253 horsepower. The current version carries on the tradition of classy styling and plenty of room for the whole family.
The 2004 Chrysler 300M still comes in two flavors, a base model and Special version. The Special differentiates itself by having a few more horsepower, a few more pound-feet of torque, a different aerodynamic package, sport suspension, an upgraded ABS system and a choice of a few different colors. The Special version is meant to carry on the tradition of the original Chrysler 300 series, a car that some would consider the original muscle car.
In driving the Special, we found a noticeably harsh ride and the tendency for the giant tires to wander and tramline on grooved pavement. There's also plenty of road rumble evident in the cabin. The trade-off in ride comfort and straight-line stability results in dramatic dividends in handling. The upgraded brakes on this car are fantastic, a point proven with the Special coming to a stop in just 114 feet from 60 mph. This is almost unheard of for a vehicle of this size. Despite the 300M's girth and 3,650-pound curb weight, we found it to be a genuinely fun sedan to drive on a curvy road. Grip is outstanding, and the tightened suspension quells body roll nicely. The Special's stiffened suspension allows the driver to pitch this car hard into a turn without fear.
Chrysler touts its styling as a major selling point over its competitors. It is geared for traditional American automotive tastes, thus this is a traditional American sedan, and that's obvious the moment you enter the cabin. The leather-upholstered seats are wide and softly padded, almost mushy, though they provide acceptable support during relatively short trips. The 300M is undoubtedly a large car and competes against cars like the Chevrolet Impala, Mercury Grand Marquis/Ford Crown Victoria, Lexus ES 300 and Acura TL. Only the equally large Ford Crown Victoria and its twin the Mercury Grand Marquis can offer more luggage room, beating the Chrysler's spacious 16.8-cubic feet.In this market segment, the 300M is for those wanting an American sedan with better than average handling. But compared to Japanese or European entry-level luxury sedans, the 2004 Chrysler 300M is a step behind in refinement and feature content.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The front-drive 2004 Chrysler 300M is a four-door sedan that comes in two trim levels: base and Special. Both are equipped with an automatic transmission that has "AutoStick," a feature that allows manual control of the gear changes. All 300Ms come loaded with features, the highlights being heated/power front seats; leather seating; and a 240-watt Infinity sound system with CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls. Separating the Special from other 300Ms are dark gray ground effects, twin exhaust pipes and "300 Special" badges. It also includes a stiffer suspension and 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot tires. Silver-toned accents highlight the dash and doors, and a 150-mph speedometer hints at the serious performance nature of the Special. Optional packages for the 300M include a cold weather package, a luxury package and a performance-handling package for the base model.
Powertrains and Performance
The base model 300M is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. The 300M Special is equipped with a tweaked version of that engine which produces 255 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 300M is available as an automatic only, though Chrysler does equip it with AutoStick.
The 2004 Chrysler 300M comes with four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS) with low-speed traction control and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Side airbags for front occupants are optional. The IIHS gave the 300M an overall "Acceptable" crash rating, while the NHTSA awarded three out of five stars in a front crash test for the driver.
Interior Design and Special Features
This is a traditional American sedan, and that's obvious the moment you enter the cabin. The leather-upholstered seats are wide and softly padded, though they provide acceptable support. The seat heaters work quickly and effectively. The rear seat is positively huge, with generous legroom. But entry and exit, to either the front or rear seats, are hampered somewhat by the 300M's arched greenhouse. The trunk is generously sized at 16.8 cubic feet.
Though the sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels on the Special can be harsher than the base model's, it offers a surprisingly responsive drive for such a large vehicle. Either version of the V6 engine is powerful enough to get the 300M moving at a reasonable clip, and the strong brakes can bring it to a confidence-inspiring quick stop.