Few cars reflect the essence of American design as forcefully as the 2019 Chrysler 300.
With an illustrious ancestry dating back to 1955, the 300 is now in its 15th model year in modern form. In addition to retro appeal, this bulky sedan competes against large four-doors on the basis of value.
Changes are few for the 2019 model year. â€œBlack Noiseâ€ finished 20-inch wheels are new for the 300S sedan, while the Touring edition can now incorporate a Sport Package.
Chrysler continues to produce muscular V-8 models, but V-6-powered Chrysler 300 sedans attract the bulk of buyers. Touring, Touring L, Limited, 300S, and 300C trim levels are available.
In the bottom three trim levels, the 3.6-liter V-6 develops 292 horsepower, sent to the rear or all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Under 300S hoods, a cold-air intake and performance exhaust system boost output to 300 horsepower.
Every 300C sedan has rear-wheel drive and packs a hefty 5.7-liter V-8. Generating 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, the V-8 also mates with an 8-speed automatic. The V-8 is also an option for the 300S sedan.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 300 four stars overall and for frontal impact, but five stars in the side-impact test. Rollover prevention (a calculated figure) rated four stars, which is not unusual.
Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 300 sedan â€œGoodâ€ in frontal moderate-overlap and side-impact tests, but â€œMarginalâ€ for the small-overlap test on the driver’s side. (The passenger side was not rated.) The 300 was judged “Superior” for frontal protection, provided an optional safety feature is installed. Headlights earned a “Poor” rating.
Two highly desirable safety features are options on top trim levels. A Safety Tec option package includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. The $2,995 group also includes blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control, as well as parking sensors and automatic headlights.
Prices do not include $1,495 destination charge.
The 300 Touring V-6 ($29,220 with rear-wheel drive, $31,720 with all-wheel drive) comes with a power driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, 8.4-inch touchscreen, and 17-inch wheels.
The Touring L V-6 ($32,865 with RWD, $35,365 with AWD) includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed heated front seats, keyless entry, and 18-inch wheels. A panoramic sunroof adds $1,995.
The 300S V-6 ($36,395 with RWD, $38,895 with AWD) may have the standard 300-horsepower V-6 or optional 5.7-liter V-8. Included are 20-inch performance tires, Sport mode with shift paddles, heated power front seats, sport-tuned suspension, and blacked-out trim.
The Limited V-6 ($38,245 with RWD, $40,745 with AWD) includes perforated leather seat inserts, heated and cooled front seats, driver’s seat memory, heated rear seats, 276-watt audio, and wood trim.
The 300C RWD V-8 ($41,695) gets the 5.7-liter V-8 with rear-wheel drive, along with quilted nappa leather upholstery, natural-pore wood bezels, adaptive HID headlights, and 20-inch wheels.
Visually, not much has changed since the modern-day 300 was launched for 2005. Elegant and powerful in its presence, the sedan has aged quite nicely through the years. Natty and crisp in design, Chrysler’s 300 holds up remarkably well.
Up front, rounded corners offset some neat angles, which play across the classic long-hood, short-deck shape and its big grille. Even with pugnacious 20-inch wheels, Chrysler’s big, upright-profiled four-door manages to maintain an assertively masculine aura, without turning to pseudo-aggressive doodads.
All cabins feature a smoothly curved dashboard. Base-level cabins look somber in the 2019 300, but more expensive models have quilted leather seat upholstery and an analog clock. High-grade leather goes into the 300C, complemented by open-pore wood accents.
The 300’s front seats are sized for larger builds; wide backrests and cushions provide ample support, with a broad adjustment range. Seats are even more supportive at upper trim levels, though prominent bolsters can make large occupants feel a tad confined. Head and leg room are fine.
Back-seat passengers can also expect sufficient space, though leg and head room are on the slim side. Three adults can fit across the back if needed.
The base audio system, with 8.4-inch touchscreen, offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Storage space abounds, including door pockets for bottles and big cupholders. Trunk capacity totals 16.3 cubic feet.
Performance is a highlight, with eager powertrains at the ready. Disarming and charming, the 300 delivers easygoing big-car handling along with a comfortable ride, suggesting an earlier era.
Chrysler’s V-6 delivers fine power, helped by a masterful 8-speed transmission, making those 300s capable of brisk two-lane passing maneuvers. In accord with the sedan’s muscular demeanor, though, the smoothly powerful 5.7-liter V-8 in the 300C (optional for 300S) may be the more authentic choice. Its 394 pound-feet of torque catapults the heavy 300C to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
With V-8 vigor, the 8-speed automatic adds paddle shifters. Sport mode retunes shift and throttle behavior for sharper responses.
Steering provides plentiful feel, compared to many modern vehicles. The stable and confident Chrysler 300 behaves predictably, even when rolling through a corner.
Handling is edgier in a 300S, which approaches sport-sedan character. Bushings are firmer, steering quicker, and springs stiffer, for a more taut and composed experience.
Available all-wheel drive gives V-6 models all-season traction. While V-6 models are quiet, the throbby V-8 makes its presence known in a way that rings true to the car’s shape.
Fuel economy also tends to suggest the past. Most frugal, as expected, is the V-6, EPA-rated at 19/30 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. With all-wheel drive, the estimate dips to 18/27/21 mpg. Rear-drive, V-8-powered 300 sedans are EPA-rated at 16/25 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined, and rated for mid-grade gasoline.
In any form, the modern-day Chrysler 300 is a quick, fun-to-drive big sedan, promising overtones of Detroit’s past and the muscle-car era of a half-century ago. The best value may be the Touring L edition, but some buyers will be satisfied with nothing less than a V-8-equipped 300C or 300S.
Driving impressions by Martin Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.