Chrysler is hoping a re-engineered and expanded lineup will restore the 300's excitement and sales success.
The automaker is doubling the line for 2012 to six models -- keying on what Chrysler says is buyer lifestyles.
The 300 was re-engineered and restyled for the 2011 model year, and sales just began early this year. With the abbreviated model year, the line was limited to three trim levels: 300, 300 Limited and 300C.
The expanded line for the 2012 model year is an effort to generate buzz and attract younger buyers. The S version is designed to reach younger buyers who do not respond to the chrome and wood trim for which Chrysler is known.
The 300's sales have struggled.
The car was introduced as a 2005 model and was largely unchanged though 2010. The top sales year was calendar 2005 when 144,068 units were sold. Last year 37,116 cars were sold, a 4 percent drop from the previous year. Sales plummeted 39 percent in the first quarter this year from a year earlier.
The three new trim levels for the 2012 model year:
- The 300S aims at younger, urban-centric enthusiasts wanting a mixture of sophistication and street machine.
- The 300C Executive Series is what Chrysler calls the most luxurious sedan ever offered by the brand. The car has leather seating surfaces and trim associated with Italian luxury cars, Chrysler says.
- The 300 SRT8 returns, aimed at enthusiasts wanting a high-performance sedan.
Sales of all 2012 300s begin this fall.