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Chrysler 300 CRD

Ballin' Diesel Style

Photography by Courtesy DaimlerChrysler

Almost overnight, the Chrysler 300 created a sensation when it splashed onto the scene in 2004 with its in-your-face styling. Its combination of refinement, performance and value was nearly unprecedented. For engine options on this hot new sedan, Americans got two V-6s as well as two powerful Hemi V-8s to choose from, but Europe has a fifth option, a thrifty diesel that returns a combined 29 miles per gallon. For perspective, that's about the same as a Chevy Cobalt 2.2L 4-cylinder.

But the 300 is no stripped-down econo-sedan. Among the standard or optional features are: 18-inch polished wheels, heated eight-way power leather driver and front passenger seats, power adjustable pedals, dual driver memory system controls for adjustable steering column, driver's seat, mirrors, radio presets and power adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic temperature control with infrared sensing, a Boston Acoustics premium sound system, navigation system, and HID headlamps.

The all-aluminum turbodiesel V-6 engine cranks out 218 ponies, about equivalent to the standard gas V-6 engines offered in North America, but the torque ranks right up there with the mighty Hemi at 376 lbs./ft. To help achieve this level of efficiency and power, the fuel pressure is an astounding 23,000 psi, aided by new Piezo injectors that can do up to five rapid-fire pulses per power stroke for quietness and fine fuel atomization. To minimize lag, a variable-geometry turbocharger is also part of the package. The exclusive transmission for this engine is the Mercedes W5A580 five-speed automatic with AutoStick. This powertrain combo helps push the big 300 from 0-62 miles per hour in just 7.6 seconds.

And for all you wagon fans, Chrysler also offers the 300 in a "Touring" version, essentially a Dodge Magnum with a 300 nose on it, also available with the new turbodiesel. The models are currently built in Brampton, Ontario, right alongside the regular North American models, but the bulk of LX-series production for the European market will soon transition to Graz, Austria.

The burning question of course, is when will we see this model stateside? Although Chrysler has not made any firm commitments to bring any diesel passenger car models to the U.S. yet, there is some speculation that this model's chances may be better than most. Although Americans balk at $3+ per gallon, they're still loathe to give up the size and comfort they've become accustomed to. The prospect of a livin' large 300 returning more than 30 miles per gallon on the highway would likely be an easy sell to "have your cake and eat it too" Americans.

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