No I don’t have any secret intel that says the next generation Chrysler 300 is headed for front wheel drive, but I do have some eerily bold facts that suggest this may be the case.
Fact #1 – The Chrysler 300 SRT is to be phased out soon. We all knew about it after SRT was announced to become a part of Dodge again and the apparent lackluster 300 SRT sales were put under a spotlight. The Detroit News soon after reported that the car wasn’t long for this world (but the Grand Cherokee SRT was).
Fact #2 – During the post 5-year FCA plan news conference, Sergio Marchionne was asked by Automobile Magazines Todd Lassa if the RWD LX vehicles would eventually be underpinned by Alfa Romeo rear-drive platform architectures for the next generation. Sergio said that its possible for the Charger and Challenger “with all the Alfa bits removed” but shook his head and said “not the Chrysler though”.
With Dodge now being solidified as a performance brand and Chrysler as a volume brand to compete against Ford, Honda and Toyota, it doesn’t leave much room for a large rear wheel drive Chrysler 300 anymore. FCA has also been busy removing vehicles that compete against other vehicles in the portfolio. I assume you’ve already heard about Dodge losing the Grand Caravan, well, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger compete against each other in similar fashion. Not only do similar vehicles compete against each other on the same showroom floor, for every dollar they save in joint development costs they lose when they end up marketing both separately at millions a piece for the same sales numbers that one could do, at half the marketing expenditure.
Ask GM how this worked out for them back when Pontiac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Buick were all shilling the same cars with slight changes – Pontiac and Olds aren’t even here to talk about it.
Further, if Chrysler is gunning for Ford, Chevy and Toyota they will need a large front wheel drive car to properly compete against them. A new era 300M could cause havoc for the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala, all while directing all RWD buyers to the Dodge Charger, instead of confusing them with a 300C.
Time will tell, and if they do I vote to retire the 300C name and bring back the (FWD) 300M.