Full-size rear-drive American sedans are few. In fact there’s only the Chevrolet SS and the dynamic duo from Fiat-Chrysler, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, which have both gotten revisions of late. But of course, it’s the Charger Hellcat that has garnered the most headlines. But that doesn’t mean the classier cousin doesn’t have a lot to offer.
If you’re looking to add some rolling bling-factor to your life, look no further than this 2015 Chrysler 300.
When the original LX-platform 300 launched for 2005, it did a lot to bring both traditional rear-wheel-drive 4-doors, and what was DaimlerChrysler at the time, back into sedan prominence. But current sales are about half of what they were back in those heady days, despite a major overhaul for 2011. So of course Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is hoping that some well-placed tweaks will reverse that trend.
The updated, still Bentley-est styling is bolder and fancier. But, not garish. More like the 300 is maturing gracefully with class.
The grille is larger, naturally, and headlights are redesigned, with C-shaped LED DRLs for instant notoriety. The rear fascia is visually widened with polished exhaust tips enlarged and pushed to the corners; while new “haloed” LED tail lights add another flash of elegance. And of course the accessories always make or break the outfit, so there are new wheel designs as well.
The 300 has always had an eye more towards international competition than domestic, and the interior gets a new somewhat gimmicky set of themes inspired by American cities…lighter motifs drawn from the sun and sand of La Jolla, California, and the Zen-like peacefulness of Sausalito…while darker treatments draw inspiration from the industrial complex of Detroit and the high finance lifestyle of Manhattan.
All questionable marketing fodder aside, there’s nothing gimmicky about the well-crafted space, with quality materials that suggest they got a Groupon deal with Audi. Everything directly in front of the driver has been updated, including the steering wheel and gauge panel.
The 300 joins the smaller 200, by employing a rotary shifter for the standard 8-speed automatic transmission that makes for a much smoother design.
And if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to drive the ol’ Lazy Boy to work every day, this is about as close as you’re gonna get.
Provided you can stay awake through your entire commute, you’ll find the 300 drives very solid, and not necessarily as big as it is. New electric power steering surely helps with that illusion.
And in an unfortunate twist of events, Chrysler now forces you to make a tough decision, as while both V6 and V8 engines are still part of the picture, all-wheel-drive is now available only with the V6.
For throttle jockeys like us, the V8 is the way to go, but we realize that more and more buyers want their all-wheel-drive traction with the fuel economy of the 6; so we did here as well.
It’s the well-received Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, with 292-horsepower, and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Those numbers climb slightly to 300 and 264 in the 300S. The V8 is the equally familiar 363-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI.
So, at our test track, we Pentastared our way to 60 in a very respectable 6.6-seconds. The ¼-mile passed in a snappy 15.0-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. Full-halting from 60 averaged a good 124–feet, and the braking experience was quite pleasant.
Front suspension makeup is a short/long arm design with one-piece lower control arms, while the contact patch in the rear is managed by an isolated 5-link arrangement.
The more aggressive you drive, the more the 300’s 2-ton mass shines through, as understeer arrives early. The V6 300 AWD in S trim adds a “Sport” mode that puts power to all four wheels to aid cornering. Obvious, if manageable, body roll, however, doesn’t go away.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AWD V6 are 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a right on 21.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Despite its bling, the 300 is still attainable full-size luxury starting at just $32,565. This all-wheel-drive 300C stickers for $41,565.
In Detroit’s heydays, big, luxurious, rear-drive sedans ruled the American roads. Now, the Chrysler 300 pretty much stands alone in offering impressive luxury for a reasonable price. And 2015 updates should ensure that more Americans take advantage of it.
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Torque: 260 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 95 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 27 mpg highway