Thinking about a 300C, 300C AWD, TL, RL. Experiences please

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I'm about to buy a new car in the next few weeks. I test drove a number of cars yesterday and I'm torn between the Chrysler 300C AWD and the Acura TL. Here are my impressions of the cars that I drove, listed in the order
that I tried them.
Toyata Avalon. Good driving experience but nothing special, great gas mileage for a car this size. Horrible ergonomics, the CD player and NAV system use tilt out control panels. The user interface to the NAV system was the worst of any car I drove. To put a CD into the player involves having a front panel lift itself up and then having to reach over it. The UI issues are a deal breaker.
Toyota Camry. Driving experience not as good as the Avalon. Better Nav system then the Avalon. Not a particularly interesting car.
Chrysler 300C AWD. I drove a 300C last year but I'm afraid of owning a RWD car in New England, they now have a AWD version which is what I tried yesterday. The high on this car is the driving experience, it's in a completely different class then everything else I've driven. The handling is awesome, it's quiet and smooth and the performance is incredible, too good in fact, the acceleration is so quick and the feel is so smooth that you risk going to prison. With every other car I tried when I put my foot down a little (I didn't floor any of them) they jumped up to 80MPH and they got a little rough. When I touched the gas on the 300C I was at 100MPH and I only knew it because I was looking at the speedometer. The other high point is that it's comfortable, by far the most comfortable seat of any car I tried. The NAV system is better than the Avalon's but not as good as the TL's. It lacks a touch screen and uses a joy stick which I don't like. Unfortunately the 300C has some down sides. One is the looks, it's a pimp car there are no two ways about that. Another is the visibility which is very poor towards the rear and mediocre in the other directions. However that didn't feel as bad to me this year as it did when I test drove a 300C last year. Also this seems to be a common problem these days, the Avalon also had a tiny rear window. Finally there is the fuel consumption issue, the demonstrator that I drove was averaging 16MPG. The car is rated 17City, 25Highway, and it needs premium gas. One way to rationalize this is that I figure the 300C will consume an extra 200 gallons a year over a TL which is only $500 at todays prices and is only $1000 if the price of gas goes up to $5 gallon.
Honda Accord and Honda Accord Hybrid. These are terrible cars. I was very surprised, I was expecting that they would be superb. The engines in both are very rough and noisy. The acceleration was good, especially in the hybrid, but I couldn't get over how rough they felt. The seat was also just terrible. There is a lumbar support mechanism that was out and out painful even with it cranked down as far as it could go.
Acura TL. Even though it is related to the Accord it's a vastly better car. The driving experience is very good but not in the same class as the 300C. The seat shared a little of the same problems as the Accord but it was tolerable. The NAV system is great. It has a touch screen and voice recognition. The car also comes with bluetooth standard. Overall they did a great job with the electronics, these are the features that I like best about the car. The downside is that it's a little on the small side. Also it doesn't come in all wheel drive but my current car is FWD and it's handled our winters just fine. The gas mileage is OK, not great for a car this small, but respectable especially considering the fact that it has a fairly powerful engine.
Acura RL. The driving experience is very good but overall I didn't like the car as much as the TL. The NAV system is placed higher up on the dash where it is harder to see and which precludes the use of a touch screen. It does have voice recognition but overall it's a step in the wrong direction. The RL is AWD which is it's one plus over the TL but I don't think AWD is worth an extra $15K.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm interested in hearing from owners of the 300C and TL. For 300 owners I'm especially in if you have found the poor visibility to be a problem. How hard is it to parallel park? What gas mileage are you getting? How reliable has it been? From TL owners I'd like to hear you general impressions. How well does it handle snow, 270HP is a lot in FWD car, is this a problem in the winter?
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Can you get the features you want in a 300 with the 3.5 6 cylinder? It will be plenty fast, get good gas mileage and save you plenty of money over the others. You should also drive a Ford 500 though I'm sure people will slam me for mentioning that here.

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On Sun, 15 May 2005 13:51:49 +0000, Art wrote:

The difference between the 3.5 and the Hemi is only 1MPG. Frankly the whole reason to get a 300 is the Hemi, that's what distinguishes it. The styling is awful but the driving experience is incredible. If you put an ordinary engine in it it would still be an ugly car, but it would be a slow ugly car.
The Ford 500 doesn't have a NAV system so I won't even look at it.
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On Sun, 15 May 2005 10:30:38 -0400, General Schvantzkoph wrote:

I think the 300 looks awesome! There is no accounting for taste, I guess. I would be weary of anything by Chrysler, though.
Toyotas are boring and uncomfortable. And I hate them for personal reasons.
The Ford 500 is ugly. Period.
Apparently, the new generation TL has rear-end geometry problems when passangers are sitting in the back. Goes through tires real bad.
I love my '01 TL, but my next car will probably AWD. I will be taking a serious look at the G35.
--
"I'd far rather be happy than right any day."
- Slartibartfast
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On Sun, 15 May 2005 11:06:31 -0400, Bruno wrote:

Would owners of the '04 like to comment on this. Is this true?

I just test drove the M35. It's got some really neat features like a rear end video camera and it's voice recognition works well. However it's over $50K which is a lot considering that it only has a 6 cylinder engine.
I also just test drove a Lexus ES330. It has a lot of vibration and it's GPS has a lock out feature that prevents you from changing the destination when you are moving. The salesman tired to claim that the vibration was because the tires developed flat spots from sitting in the lot all week. Between the Lexus and the Acura, I prefer the Acura. So I'm still trying to decide between the 300C and the TL.
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You either love the styling of the 300 or you hate it. I wouldn't buy any car I considered ugly, I'm puzzled why you would consider a car you think is so ugly. BTW, my 300C does not require premium gas, only mid-grade. Are you sure the 300C AWD requires premium? As for having AWD in New England, that's a wise decision on your part. I kept the 300C in the garage here on Long Island after the first time I drove it in the snow.
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On Sun, 15 May 2005 18:20:54 -0400, Peter A. Stavrakoglou wrote:

I have two reasons for considering the 300C even though I don't like the styling. 1st I've been happy with Chryslers, I had a LeBaron GTS Turbo in the 80s and it was a decent car for the money. I'm currently driving a 94 Concord 3.5L which was a wonderful car in it's youth. It's on it's last legs now, it needs a complete brake job, probably shocks, the engine has gotten rough, the air conditioning is dead, and I've just had the transmission rebuilt for the second time (the first rebuild lasted two months). I'm not going to throw anymore money into it.
The most important reason why I haven't been able to reject the 300C is the driving experience. I've now driven all of the Japanese cars in it's price range and higher (the RL is 49K and the M35 is 51K, the sticker on the AWD 300C that I test drove was 40K). There is simply no comparison between the way the 300C behaves and the Japanese cars. The TL, RL, M35 and Avalon were all competent. Their handling was decent and their acceleration was respectable. But the 300C stuck to the road like glue and it was glass smooth. I touched the pedal on the 300C and it was at 100 and I wouldn't have known it without looking at speedometer. The Japanese cars were all working hard at 80 even though the power to weight ratio is similar for the TL and the RL. On the other hand the NAV system is extremely important to me and the user interface of the Acura system is much better than the 300C's. The 300C uses a joy stick which sucks. I'm not sure if it has voice recognition, that's something I need to check on, but without it the system will be fairly unusable when the car is in motion. The Acura TL has a touch screen and voice recognition, it's beautifully engineered. It also comes with bluetooth standard but I can order that option on the 300C.
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You should also check to see what Chyrsler puts on their navigation system. I was in the UK last year and a guy with a brand new Chrysler minivan told me it was crap. I think he said it was missing hotels and the like and since he was a driver who picked up people at hotels it was worthless. He said his cheap hand held portatable system was far superior.

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The few times I've relied on the NAV system to get me to a hotel or restaurant, it worked fine taking me right to where I wanted to be. I've not had a NAV system in any other car and actually always thought that I would never find it useful. After using it I don't ever want to buy another car without one.
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"Peter A. Stavrakoglou" wrote:

note - "few times"

It's a toy, like the stereo system with 11 speakers and 300 watts (the last time I had a CD in my 300m's 4-CD changer was a few years ago).
If you like GPS, then get a hand-held unit. At least you can take it with you. I take my Geko when I travel. Shove it between the dashboard and windshield of the rental car, push a few buttons, bring up the way-point I'm going to that I programmed into it ahead of time (terraserver.microsoft.com) and follow the compass.
If you want fancy, then hook your hand-held up to your laptop running something like MS Map-point. Will show you where you are in real time on a detailed street map. Map-point Europe too.
Took my Geko to Germany a few months ago. Worked great.
I'd never choose a car based on whether or not it had built-in nav system.
Give me ventilated seating first. That's what I'd be looking for. Then laminated side glass. AND very important -> glass that doesn't block radar signals enough to render radar detectors useless.
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On Sun, 15 May 2005 22:52:47 -0400, MoPar Man wrote:
It's not a toy, they are absolutely indispensable. I have a handheld, a Garmin GPS V. I couldn't go anywhere without it. However it's slow, has a tiny memory and it's hard to read because the screen is so slow. The built in units can recalculate the route instantly (the Garmin takes a couple of minutes), they have the entire country in their memory, have big easy to read screens, voice output, and a better antenna.
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wrote:

I disagree that it's a toy. I've had good dash top units for years and now I have the built-in GPS in my '04 TL. The integration of the built-in is well worth the price. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with the dash top units either. But in either case, I'd not be without one in any car again.
To each their own, I guess.
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MoPar Man wrote:

Agreed! I'd never base a car-buying decision on something as trivial as a nav system, stereo, or electric turnip-twaddler. Engine, suspension, drivetrain, chassis- that's where to look because that's the foundation that everything else is built on, and that's were the 300 trumps the competition.
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On Sun, 15 May 2005 19:04:25 -0400, General Schvantzkoph

Wait, wait, wait... You're telling me that you're considering buying another car from the same company that made you rebuild a whole transmission twice in 11 years? I drive a 1994 Civic DX, which I drive like I stole it. It has 188,000 miles and still has the original clutch, shocks, springs, and drums. I only just recently had to replace the radiator for $100. The most money I ever spent on a repair was $385 to replace the A/C compressor. If my Civic gave me half the trouble your Concord did, I would never buy a Honda again. Think about it.
Nate
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The Ford 500 and Mercury Montego are nice cars - the interior is very nice and put together well. The exterior is nothing like a 300 but I still find it attractive. It's a different kind of car than the 300C, no doubt. It might be considered "boring" compared to a 300 but it's a good "boring" car that should sell well. I wouldn't mind owning one myself but I'd have to sell my 300C to get one and that will not happen.
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By what you have said you basically like the 300 the best. I would not buy a car because it has a touch screen navigator, you could buy the model without one and add your own touch screen for less than the manufacturer would charge for one. The 300 looks like a pimp car now, because it is new and a little odd, but in a year it will be as normal as a sunfire (over in north america anyways). Buy the car you feel the best in, the one that adds to your ego the most. The most important thing is to feel good about yourself when in a car. The xtra expense is nothing compared to the initial cost of the car. Your going to lose more in deprieciation on any car that you can save in gas, so don't worry about it. If you really wanted to save money you would buy a used car and save more than 5 years worth of gas up front.
BTW : You should floor all the cars you test drive. Any car should handle this fine.
Steve

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I have a 2005 TL I trade in my 2002 TL Type S, I can tell you the 2005 is better in everyway. It is solid, great interior gets about 22 mpg in NY mostly stop & go. My 2002 got 29 on the open road. I simply wouldn't by an American car. I also had a 1986 Chrysler Turbo Lebaron. I remember the ads where it out handled, out accelerated ..out everything a BMW. What they forgot to tell you is that the power windows would break every three months. The repair would last only 3 months. In between repair the windows were duct taped in the up position so they would fall down into the doors. That's the last American car I will own. The Acura will feel & ride the same 5 years from now, do you think the 300C will? What about trade in value? You can't go wrong with the TL.

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You must have had a bad dealer and you are blaming Chrysler for bad local service. I've seen lots of LeBaron's over the years and none had duct tape holding up the windows. Many are still on the road.

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Then by all means,,buy the Chrysler...good luck.

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JOSEPH Castro wrote:

That was 1986. You DO realize that was 20 years ago, don't you? How many parts do you think an 86 LeBaron shares with a 2005 300C? And aside from that I see a lot of 1986 LeBarons are still on the road (power window problems notwithstanding). More than I see 1986 Honda products, in fact.

Your loss, not mine. If you want to live 20 years in the past, be my guest.

I think the 300C will ride and feel the same TEN years and 240,000 miles from now, if my wife's 1993 Chrysler product is any example.
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