I wouldn't get a chance to drive it seriously again until my trip back to Detroit the following weekend. Though cold weather and snow were something of a problem, rolling down I-70 east towards Dayton, Ohio, let the 3.5L mill wind out a bit, and with 1,000 miles or so on the odometer, the car easily walked up to big numbers. This is the sport model, with a speedometer that tracks to 150 mph; we were nowhere close to that in this weather. The white-faced gauges are very easy to see and read, though only four are present (speed, tach, fuel level, and engine temp).

The consoles, above and below, are also well laid out. The Auto-Stick shifter is easy to grab, and is one of my favorite things about all the automatic Chrysler products that use it. I like to drive, and this thing gives the car's pilot a chance to do a little more than just sit there. The stereo is very well-balanced in terms of sound quality (as it should be); although I never tried either the CD player or cassette player, I was picking up AM talk radio from as far away as New York and St. Louis in northern Indiana. There were a variety of options in the upper console, none of which I tried except to see what type of big number I could get on the instant mileage counter; it read 81 mpg at one point! That'll keep them Washington boys off our backs (of course, with the wood to it, numbers like 8 mpg can happen as well).

Were there any drawbacks to the car? In my mind, only the big wheels and tires. Perhaps I'm just not used to them, but they transferred an inordinate amount of road feel through the suspension to the chassis, and I guess I would expect it to be a smoother ride despite the sporty name. I didn't get the sense of total control I tend to feel through the tires in smaller, late-model vehicles. On the rugged highways of Detroit, keeping things in alignment and tire damage to a minimum might be a little difficult.That aside, everyone from the car-wash guy to the parking valet thought it was a pretty impressive deal, and they see a lot of cars. If you're looking for the modern GTX, this is where we are now. It's plush, but has enough performance acumen to put a smile on your face. Now, once PVO does that SRT-6 mill

2002 Chrysler 300M Special Specs
Base price$31,940
As tested$33,920
ColorBright Silver Metallic
Interior..Dark Slate Grey/Leather-trimmed buckets
Engine3.5L High Output 240hp MPI
TransmissionFour-speed AutoStick
ExhaustDual rear
BrakesAnti-Lock four-wheel discs
Traction ControlYes
Wheels18-inch Aluminum
Tires245/452A18 black wall
SpareFull-size aluminum
StereoAM/FM/cassette w/4-disc CD changer in dash
Speakers11 infinity units in 9 locations
SuspensionSport
SteeringPerformance
Gas tank17-gallon capacity