2011 North American International Auto Show recap, 2011 NAIAS, review of the 2011 Chrysler 300
Nissan Maxima

Cars Home / Stuff to Buy Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

When Chrysler asked me to be their guest at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, I jumped at the chance. I was ready to check out what Chrysler will be offering in their reloaded lineup. I'm located in Cleveland so I went back and forth on whether I should drive to Detroit or hit the skies at the airport. I decided to fly out to the show and appreciated the 10 minutes or so the airlines took to de-ice the plane as we were heading toward the runway. Once I landed at the Detroit airport, I ran into a friend who was also covering Chrysler at the Auto Show, so we shared a ride to the hotel and caught up on things. We were taken to the Greek Town Hotel and Casino for check-in and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at the style and comfort of the hotel. I had been to the casino a few years back and had not visited the new hotel since it had been built. Although the project took a while to finish, it was a job well done.

I suggested we get our grub on at Fishbones – the food was simply delicious. I had the Pistachio Crusted Chicken and my friend ordered the Pasta Orleans, so hats off to the chef for two well prepared meals. We then met up with the firm handling the auto show for Chrysler along with other media and bloggers, made some donations to the Greek Town Casino, had a few beers with the group and it was lights out.

Monday morning we headed out to the Detroit International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in a fleet of well appointed Chrysler Town & Country Minivans. The temperature in Detroit was around 20 degrees but Cobo was warm and all lit up with Hollywood-like displays. Mondays at media week are the busiest days, with most of the BIG announcements and reveals hitting the internet at the click of a button. Chrysler's world premiere of the iconic 300 and 300c were a major media attraction. Chrysler's Big Olivier Francois eloquently introducing the all new 2011 Chrysler 300 Sedan to cheers and admiration from the media folks I happened to be seated with. The 2011 Chrysler 300 has a head-turning design that is sleek and refined with craftsmanship that rivals much higher priced sedans. Mr. Francois takes a lot of pride in the fact that the Chrysler 300 sedan is "the most award-winning car ever." Francois summed up his views of the 300, saying:

"From its premium materials, state-of-the-art connectivity features, new chassis architecture and best-in-class power, the all-new Chrysler 300 embodies the brand's new attitude in every detail. And to ensure our all-new Chrysler flagship delivers more than unmistakably bold and powerful American style to our customers, the Chrysler 300 team benchmarked the craftsmanship, technology and refinement of the segment's best sedans to deliver a new world-class quality and performance symbol at an attainable price."

What wasn't quoted here is that the 2011 Chrysler 300c still has the awesome rumble current owners demand. When you add the 22" wheels, the 300 has an attitude that will fit right in when pulling up to the hottest night club in New York and the finest country clubs in Atlanta. The all-new grille features seven deeply sculpted horizontal blades that, coupled with the new Chrysler wing badge, make for a handsome combination. The headlamps are sharp, bi-functional projectors nestled next to LED-illuminated daytime running lamps, which together form a "C" shape for unmistakable on-road presence and attitude. For those looking for increased visibility, the all-new Chrysler luxury flagship's windshield has been raked back three inches, while rolled-framed doors with thinner pillars improve outward visibility by 15 percent.

Nissan Maxima

Shortly after the presentation, I took the opportunity to go on stage and take a closer look for myself. I immediately checked out the interior of the 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan. I was totally blown away with the style, authentic materials, and precise fit and finish. There are so many improvements and upgrades on the all-new Chrysler 300, such as the detail of soft touch materials, premium interior trim, available heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, and real wood appliqués on the instrument panel, doors, center console and steering wheel. The cabin of the 2011 Chrysler 300 is like driving in "a Luxurious Environment with Premium Materials and Best-in-class Comfort."

The buzz around the 2011 Chrysler 300 continued for quite a while. The Chrysler team was beaming with pride, reveling in the congratulations from guests, onlookers and media. I quickly got my hands on a media kit of the new 300 and learned that the all-new 2011 Chrysler 300 and 300 Limited models feature the newest power train from the automaker – the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. When compared to the previous V-6 engines, fuel economy is improved by up to 8 percent with EPA-ratings of 18 MPG city /27 highway. Delivering 292 horsepower (up 63 percent) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (up 36 percent) compared with the previous 2.7-liter entry-level engine, the new Pentastar V-6 engine also produces 42 more horsepower (up 16 percent) and 10 lb.-ft. more torque compared to the 3.5-liter V-6. That was all good but I kept reading to find out about the Hemi and found this: "World-class Power and Efficiency with 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 Engine and its Fuel Saver Technology."

Performance has been a hallmark of the "letter series" Chrysler 300 models since 1955, and the all-new 2011 Chrysler 300C builds upon that legacy with the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 engine delivering 363 horsepower, 0-60 mph performance in less than six seconds and up to 25 highway mpg. In addition, the engine's innovative Fuel Saver Technology allows for seamless transition between smooth, high-fuel-economy four-cylinder mode when less power is needed and V-8 mode when more power is in demand. When running in four-cylinder fuel saver mode, the engine delivers up to 20 percent improved fuel efficiency. That's right – 363 horsepower and 25 highway mpg!

I then ventured out to check out the other offerings from Chrysler and Fiat and, oh my goodness, these folks have launched so many new and refreshed products in such a short amount of time you have to wonder when they sleep. The all new Chrysler 200 received plenty of media attention and was later the focus of a media roundtable I participated in. I must say, Chrysler didn't pull any punches when designing and producing this new midsize sedan. We were all amazed at the strength of the Mopar Chrysler 200 and everyone was like "I have to drive that one". We're going to have the chance to spend some time behind the 2011 Chrysler 200 in a few weeks, as we'll be driving from New Orleans down to Dallas to attend a certain football game that two teams will be playing on February 6th. We really wanted to watch this game live because you never know if any of the networks will be carrying it!

Nissan Maxima

Chrysler came out swinging with the all new 2011 Chrysler 300 and made a statement: not only is Chrysler coming back but Chrysler intends to lead the charge in the large car segment. Some of the features in the Chrysler 300 that stand out to us are the new ultra-rigid structural design, E-segment architecture with redesigned front- and rear-suspension geometry delivering world-class handling, an innovative AWD system that seamlessly transitions between rear-wheel drive (RWD) and AWD with no driver intervention, world class quality, and "State-of-the-art Connectivity with Segment's Largest Touchscreen Infotainment Center." I had a chance to meet CEO Sergio Marchionne on January 10, which was the first day of the show, and he appeared to be focused, a sense of determination that was shared by the other Chrysler and Fiat representatives who were available at the show. Chrysler truly needed a partner like Fiat and a CEO like Marchionne, both of which are all-in when it comes to the future success of this American icon!

The partnership between Chrysler and Fiat has yielded such a range of vehicles that many really have no idea what the possibilities are for this new company. It's good to see Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram back where they belong – in the heat of the battle for U.S. consumers' hearts. On Wednesday, January 12, I had the opportunity to visit the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, MI, which was a real eye opener on just how much Walter Chrysler contributed to the U.S. auto industry. The warm, 55,000-square-foot Walter P. Chrysler Museum is three stories high with more than 65 vehicles and historical exhibits that tell the story of Chrysler's contributions to automotive design, technology and innovation, as well as impact on American culture. The visit to the museum was a fitting way to end my visit to Detroit with Chrysler and I left with a newfound respect for where Chrysler has been and sheer excitement for what the new Chrysler can accomplish. With the 2011 Chrysler 300 leading the way, Chrysler has again made a statement and for me that was loud and clear – there's a new Chrysler in town.

Watch the Video

Click the thumbnails below to see full versions of each photo.

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Around the Web