During my lifetime (thus far) I have witnessed Chrysler, Dodge and the late Plymouth (R.I.P.) deliver a wide range of vehicles, taking consumers and enthusiasts on a wild roller coaster ride. Ultimate highs courtesy the likes of Super Bee, Barracuda, HEMI (of course) and Viper and bottomless lows, a.k.a. K car, Jeep Compass and bankruptcy (twice). They even invented an entirely new segment known as the minivan and sent Lee Iacocca golfing with Snoop Dogg.
Most likely, the future will be just as storied as the past, especially with the approaching stiff fuel economy standards. What is to become of the large-bodied, rear-drive sedans we have come to know and love of late? I am sure that somewhere in a back office guarded by several burly security officers and laser beams someone is sketching the future for this beloved platform. “HEMI” may have to describe the shape of the battery instead of the shape of the cylinder head.
This fall we will see new versions of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans but these are just updates – evolution, not revolution as some put it.
The rumor mill is running at warp speed right now and spy photographers are burning the midnight oil to send back shots of heavily disguised models in final testing.
For me, I am a “fanboy.” I love the big sedans, I love rear-wheel drive and I LOVE the big HEMI. I was rewarded recently with a last look at the current SRT8 powertrain (albeit backed by an automatic gearbox) in the stately Chrysler 300C performance chassis. It re-affirmed my affection for the automaker, for the engineers and for the American driving experience.
I am eager to see if designers have answered the critics concerning Chrysler’s notoriously “cheapish” interiors (of late). I see in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee things are looking greatly improved and I have hope this continues throughout the breadth of the model makeovers.
I will concede the SRT8 package in the likes of the 300C is overkill. The 5.7-liter HEMI engine is more than enough power and the performance suspension and tires cause ride quality to suffer a bit. For (Dodge) Charger and Challenger, certainly, SRT8 makes sense but on the 300C I feel a luxury package would be better suited – something akin to a 300 Platinum that would eliminate nearly all the plastic from inside the vehicle.
With the base price of the 300C SRT8 at nearly 44 grand (and our loaded tester sporting a sticker of $49,125) I believe the vehicle would be better suited laden with the finest wood and leather as opposed to iron and horsepower.