DETROIT -- The restyled 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan, scheduled to be introduced today, Jan. 10, at the North American International Auto Show, has giant shoes to fill.
Its predecessor, introduced in 2004 as a 2005 model, was a smash hit and arguably the best product of the decade-long DaimlerChrysler union.
But now, 300 sales are a fraction of their peak. And the Dodge Charger, which shares a platform with the 300 and also appeals to shoppers seeking bold styling, outsold the 300 about 2-to-1 last year.
Chrysler strategists are hoping the 2011 300 will help define a new identity for the lagging Chrysler brand and separate it more from Dodge.
Chrysler is pitching the 300, the more conservative looking of the two cars, as an alternative to European luxury sedans. The Charger is aimed at a more youthful, performance-oriented audience. Chrysler executives say the two cars appeal to different customers.
The new 300 has a sleeker look than the outgoing model with a more raked windshield and a new chrome grille with Chrysler's new winged logo. With its new interior and quieter ride, it is a more refined vehicle than the outgoing model.
Chrysler has not announced prices yet. If Chrysler Group follows the same strategy it followed with its minivans, the 300 will carry a higher sticker than the Charger.