Chrysler 300 blends size, power and refinement
The Chrysler 300 has evolved from a hulking mass of metal that provided visual distinction but lacked refinement into an exceptional sedan that melds powerful rear-wheel-drive performance with fine interior accouterments.
Coming off a complete rework in 2015, the 2017 version has added some nice upgrades to several of the trim levels, including a completely new infotainment system.
A new 300S Alloy Edition trim starts at $36,170, though the 300 base model, available in either all-wheel drive or my preferred rear-wheel-drive configuration, starts at $32,340.
On the outside, the 300 is a statement of confidence and bold attitudes, from the signature honeycomb grille that is “in your face” immediately to the very sleek, streamlined headlamps that move out from the grille and expand around the fender flares. Those wheel wells are big and have 18-, 19- and 20-inch rims to fill them up. Few sedans can pull off 20-inch rims and still look stylish; the Chrysler 300 makes it look easy.
The belt line of the 300 is high, which gives the whole sedan a tighter, more aerodynamic feel. The higher belt line pinches window glass area a bit but is a nice trade-off of sight lines for an exceptional sight.
Some of the most notable features include an upgraded Beats by Dr. Dre 10-speaker audio system, remote engine start, paddle shifters, a drive mode selector, a black chrome grille and headlight bezels, a sport suspension, painted aluminum wheels and black exhaust tips.
The 300’s base engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 292 horsepower, although in the 300S trim level it will generate a full 300 horsepower thanks to a special cold-air intake. You can jump up to a much more serious 5.7-liter V-8 (363 horsepower) that gets the sedan from 0-60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.
Transitioning all those ponies to the pavement requires some serious technology, and the 300 uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is predictably not great, with the V-6 achieving 19 mpg city/30 highway/23 combined (18/27/21 with AWD) and the V-8 getting 16/25/19.
I really like the feel from the standard RWD configuration, but do not assume it is sporty; it is not a competitor with true sport-sedan DNA, but it is highly athletic, and for the price of admission it is a big, capable and comfortable ride. A sport mode tweaks responses from the electronically assisted power steering, engine, transmission and pedals.
The cabin of the 300 is roomy, and it offers a new level of refinement. Look for enhancements such as real wood trim, memory settings for driver’s seat and mirrors, a power rear sunshade, a panoramic moon roof and a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic.
The dash is not unlike the exterior with big, bold gauges that are easy to see and fun to look at. The center stack holds most control functions and is clean and easy to operate.
My tester featured the leather seating upgrade. It was gorgeous and comfortable and delivered perfect power settings and lumbar support. Rear-seat passengers have ample leg- and headroom — this is a true five-passenger sedan — and 16.3 cubic feet of trunk space. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been added to keep the 300 up to date.
You cannot argue with the degree of performance, equipment and sheer size the 300 provides for the low price point. If you like the exterior statement, then there won’t be another car that can compete for your affections.