It’s a well known fact that Chrysler is owned by Fiat, saving the company from near certain bankruptcy. Few people look back on the DaimlerChrysler days with much fondness, with many holding the opinion that Daimler practically acted like they never even wanted Chrysler. Yet, in this era of an Italian owned Chrysler, there remains a car with a slight German accent. If there was a bright spot of the Daimler days, it is without a doubt the Chrysler 300.
If we turn back the clock to 2005 when the 300 debuted, the car was a revelation. The world hadn’t seen a rear wheel drive Chrysler since 1981. More importantly, Chrysler showed that America could still build an unapologetically full size, rear drive luxury car that people actually wanted to buy. With plenty of big German sedans and Lexus LS’ on the road, the Big Three had seemingly forgotten about a class of car Americans once dominated.
An instant hit upon release, the 300 is now a familiar sight. And as much as a success the car was, Chrysler, strapped for cash was sadly unable to keep the car fresh for years. Finally, in 2011 the 300 finally received a long overdue reskin. While some will argue to current 300 is not as “gangsta” as the original, there is no denying the car has presence. Chrysler may have refined the look some, but the 300 remains an imposing car with swagger to spare, a ‘brute in a suit’ as I was inclined to describe it.
Thankfully, the subpar interiors of Chryslers from the 2000’s are a fading memory, and the current 300 manages to deliver a convincing luxury experience for driver and passengers. This is a big American car for well, big Americans, so there is plenty of room to stretch out. Seats provide excellent comfort and should be perfect for long trips. Chrysler’s large touchscreen infotainment panel remains one of the best in the business, with an impressive sound system to boot. On hot summer days I appreciated the ventilated seat and thoughtful cooled cup holders. However in our black interior the chrome trim on the steering wheel would get scalding hot.
As always, the 300 offers a choice of two engines, a 3.6L V-6 rated at 292hp, or a 5.7L V-8 good for 363hp (Europeans can opt for a V-6 diesel). Either engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic. All wheel drive is available, but only with the V-6. Our test car had all wheel drive, and on paper 292hp may not sound like much to move a car with this amount of heft with much authority, but I was pleasantly surprised. After living with the 300 for a week I wasn’t really missing the V-8 at all, and to live with on a daily basis the V-6’s fuel economy (18/27MPG city/highway) is far more palatable. The 300 definitely shows its Mercedes DNA with a solid as a rock chassis and sure footed handling.
The 300 is offered in our trim levels; ours was the top of the line 300C Platinum. Predictably, the list of standard equipment is generous, including dual zone auto climate control, navigation, Harmon Kardon premium audio, heated steering wheel,power heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seat, heated and cooled front cupholders, 19″ wheels, LED foglights, and a panoramic sunroof. Options on car include the SafetyTec Plus package (power folding mirrors, front and rear park assist, blind spot/cross path detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, brake assist, rain sensitive wipers, automatic high beams) and premium leather on the dash, console and door panels. Including destination, our 300 retails for $51,050USD.
The 300 may not be as attention grabbing as it was when it first appeared over ten years ago, and its sales figures reflect that. Yet in its current iteration this is the best 300 addressing, having addressed any of the original’s shortcomings. This is a car that not only looks like modern American luxury, but acts like it too, offering a true luxury environment. True, there are other choices for a full size car to be had, but none provide the amount of attitude as the big Chrysler.