Chrysler 300C Maspeth NY

In person, the 300C is a bona fide eye-catcher. It's stately and mature, and yet powerful and compact-looking considering its generous overall length of 196.8 in., on a 120.0-in. wheelbase.

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"Change is good." It was Andre Agassi's mantra when he lost the shoulder-length hair and headband for the Bruce Willis look, and it could be Chrysler's with the new V-6-powered 300 and our test car, the 300C, which resurrects the Hemi label for its V-8 powerplant after a half-century of absence. It's the third car, after the Crossfire and Pacifica, to bear the fruits of the Mercedes-Benz/Chrysler merger, and it's radically different from the François Castaing-era LH cars it replaces — to scratch the surface, this new LX platform is rear drive, and let's just say the cab-forward look is squarely in the rearview mirror.

In person, the 300C is a bona fide eye-catcher. It's stately and mature, and yet powerful and compact-looking considering its generous overall length of 196.8 in., on a 120.0-in. wheelbase. Its proportions suggest that the rear wheels are providing the motive force, with a long hood, a nipped tail and bold wheel wells showing off the 18-in. rolling stock. In profile, two things are immediately obvious: The 300C is very high-waisted, with a chopped greenhouse reminiscent of a 1950s' custom; and the windshield angle, in a total reversal of the LH cars, is relatively upright. Moving around to the front, there's a face you'll never forget and can't ignore. Inspired by Chrysler's 1998 Chronos show car, the 300C's dramatic, imposing grille and bejeweled headlight clusters project a certain confidence...and disdain for more meekly styled cars, perhaps? In my humble opinion, it's a very successful look, alluding to Chrysler's famed Letter Cars of the 1950s and 1960s without crossing over and becoming a caricature of them.

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