It’s still around?! It feels like the Chrysler 300 has been around for an eon, but it’s actually only been around in its current iteration since 2011. Since then it’s received special editions, minor tweaks, and a new 8-speed gearbox, but this is fundamentally still the same square-jawed 300 we’ve known all along – available in 3 engine flavor variants, none of which bear SRT designation, and with options of two or four driven wheels (engine depending). The 300 can be had in one of 4 trim lines, with a sum total of $10 000 separating the entire range.
The 300’s large exterior may seem like it bodes well for interior space, and to an extent, it does. There’s lots of room for 5 occupants to inhabit and stretch out in, but the low roof impedes head room – particularly when equipped with the sun roof. Head room aside, occupants are living the lush life – despite the archaic design. The 300’s interior design feels old school cool, and it looks good too – old money good. Sadly, the materials fall way short of that same level of class. Cheap plastics, faux trim pieces, and general cheapness don’t inspire the levels of class the visual appearance does. But from the onset, the base Limited model still features cushy heated 8-way power adjustable front seats in leather upholstery, and an 8.4-inch uConnect touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
A sportier 300S trim nets buyers a stiffer suspension with a few more ponies, but the discerning buyer should rather opt for either a base Limited model or the luxury-based 300C trims, if for nothing other than their suppler suspension setup. It rides wish a soft, squishy nature that soaks up heavy bumps and potholes – but the damping leaves a little to be desired and the ride can become influenced by a jittery subtest on severely pockmarked roads.
This 4000+ lbs behemoth may have a name with genuine racing pedigree, but the handling is more luxury cruiser than NASCAR racer. Twisty bits of tarmac quickly reveal just how heavy the 300 is, and the syrupy steering feel doesn’t quite inspire confidence. Grip is fairly neutral, even in default RWD models, but all-wheel drive is a V6-only option that will help with grip in slippery climates.
The default engine choice is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. 300S models get an extra 8 ponies and 4 lb-ft, that don’t really get this heavy hitter moving much quicker. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is no SRT engine, but its 363hp and 396 lb-ft are just about enough to get the 300 moving at a decent rate. An 8-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox is standard on all models, as is RWD, with V6 models getting the option of AWD. RWD EPA highway figures stand at 30 MPG for the V6 models and 25 MPG for the HEMI V8.
Despite the poor interior quality, Chrysler hasn’t skimped on available equipment. Even Limited spec models get a rear-view camera and leather upholstery, with higher specced variants getting premium audio systems, heated rear seats, heated wood and leather power steering wheel, and driver seat memory. In the way of safety equipment, the 300 can be optioned with front and rear park sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, active forward collision avoidance and rear cross traffic alert, earning the 300 Good ratings from the IIHS and 4-stars out of 5 from the NHTSA.
The big bruiser no longer has the character of the SRT model, nor the quality of some of its newer rivals. They’ve traded racing pedigree for old school style – but one has to wonder if there’s any substance behind those good looks… there are better full-size sedans out there.