The Chrysler 300 is a unique champion of versatility, a large American rear-wheel-drive sedan that is quiet, comfortable, and well-built. It has a timeless style, so you can’t exactly say it looks dated, although the body hasn’t changed much since it was introduced for 2005.
Last refreshed for 2015, it gets updates for 2017 including a faster UConnect system with sharper graphics, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Three new packages are added to the 2017 Chrysler 300S, including an Alloy Edition.
Base engine is a smooth 3.6-liter V6 whose 292 horsepower and linear torque easily propel the weight of the big car down the road. The Chrysler 300S gets 300 hp out of its cold-air intake and tuned exhaust system.
All-wheel drive is available with the V6. The system doesn’t send any power to the front wheels unless traction is needed there.
Next engine up is the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that makes 363 horsepower, driving the 300S or 300C from zero to sixty miles per hour in 5.8 seconds, using an 8-speed automatic transmission. If you want a real throwback Chrysler 300 hot rod, get one of these.
The Chrysler 300 rates 19/30 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined with rear-wheel drive, two less mpg with all-wheel drive. The Hemi V8 gets an EPA-rated 16/25/19 mpg.
In crash tests by NHTSA, the 300 earned four stars overall. The IIHS gave it the top Good grade in every category except the difficult small front-overlap test, where it scored Marginal.
The 2017 lineup includes the Chrysler 300 Limited ($32,340), the sporty Chrysler 300S ($35,675), and the luxurious Chrysler 300C ($38,635) and 300C Platinum ($42,770). The V6 is standard, the V8 is optional. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional ($2500). Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, seven airbags, and hill-start assist. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Many optional safety features are available, including forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, and emergency call-assist.
With its upright profile and squarish nose, the Chrysler 300 looks American all the way. It has both swagger and elegance, with a certain brawniness and athletic sills. The grille is simple, a tweaked trapezoid with mesh and Chrysler wing logo, with LED foglamps and available bi-Xenon headlamps.
At the back end there are LED taillamps with an illuminated halo, and an integrated lip spoiler.
The 300S gets a black mesh grille that we think adds a lot, and 20-inch black wheels. The 300C gets platinum trim.
Smooth curves and organic shapes prevail in the cabin. The base 300 Limited uses a lot of hard black plastic, which upgrades to hand-sanded, open-pore wood trim complementing two-tone leather in the 300C Platinum. Fit and finish is good. The rubbery dash has a slightly gummy feel. It’s not the best place to toss a sweater, because lint sticks to it.
Being an all-American full-size sedan, there are a bunch of storage bins, and big cupholders abound. Bottle holders are molded into the door pockets.
The seats are built for Americans, which is to say a nation of overweight people. They’re big, firm but compliant, multi-adjustable, and have good bolstering. Headroom and legroom are excellent in front, but in the rear, tall people will want more legroom, although they’ll find the seats back there comfortable enough. There’s plenty of room for three passengers in the rear.
The 16.3 cubic-foot trunk is big, but only average for a full-size sedan. Visibility is good in all directions, thanks to thin roof pillars.
The Chrysler 300 maneuvers with stability and composure, and rides with comfort, as a big car should. It also corners on winding roads like a big car. In the Limited and 300C, there’s a good amount of body roll, and some soft heaving during acceleration and braking. Still, the electric power steering makes light work of the turn-in, and the suspension is sorted well enough to hustle at a fair pace. You just can’t push things.
The 300S has a firmer suspension that better controls the body motions, without being too firm. On the 300S and 300C with the V8 engine, there’s a Sport mode on the rotary gear selector that quickens steering response and resistance, throttle response, and cuts shift time form 400 to 250 milliseconds, using the paddle shifters. There’s a second Sport button on the dash that can select these settings separately and individually.
The Chrysler 300 offers value in a large car, but the 300S is the more compelling car with its 3.6-liter V6, 8-speed automatic, and stable road manners. It’s a full-size sedan that works, and says Detroit all the way.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with staff reports by The Car Connection.