One of the highlights of the short marriage between Daimler and Chrysler was the all-new Chrysler 300 in 2005. Based on components derived from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the S-Class, the full-size sedan became one of the only rear-wheel drive sedans in the category and at this price point. Rear-wheel drive isn’t magic, but it does produce better handling dynamics. The 300 was also offered with an all-wheel drive (AWD) system developed from the Mercedes 4Matic system, again unique in this grouping.
These structural elements combined with a unique muscular styling that is sometimes referred to as ‘gangster chic’, because of the chopped-top persona derived from its signature high beltline. The polarizing design caught on and through the years evolved into a more stately elegance. For 2015 the 300 shows an even more refined look and an enhanced sophistication.
The 2015 Chrysler 300 design is evolutionary, and shows the brand’s commitment to building a high quality and technically sophisticated large American sedan. The large wheels and tires give it an even more planted look, and they certainly contribute to its road-holding abilities.
Chrysler emphasizes the made in America theme and designers have carried that forward into the interiors, which they label geographically based on the look: La Jolla, California – Indigo / Linen; Manhattan, New York – Black; Detroit, Michigan – Black / Ambassador Blue and Sausalito, California – Black / Linen. The interior feels roomy but the high beltline can makes for a snug feeling. The cargo space is about average for a large car at 16.3 cubic feet.
The large, perforated leather seats and quality materials give the 300 an opulent feeling, but with no excess bling, just the solid business-like look of large dials and buttons. We like the large 8.4-inch Uconnect screen mounted at the top of the center stack, just under the traditional clock. Uconnect is intuitively designed with large icon buttons that respond quickly to control the audio, navigation, communications, emergency and some other vehicle functions like the heated and ventilated front seats and the heated steering wheel. Most of the menus are only one or two touches deep so you don’t have to go through a complicated search to find what you need.
Our test car even had standard heated and cooled drink holder compartments in the center console that help keep a beverage hot or cold. At night, the interior design is accented with a cool blue lighting. We like the large console mounted dial that controls the eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission along with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters (on some models) for drivers that like to be more personally involved with gear selection.
The standard 2015 Chrysler 300 drivetrain is the award winning 292-hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine with eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The drivetrain gets an EPA rating of 19 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. With the available AWD the rating drops to 18/27 mpg.
Our 300C Platinum model had the optional ($3,000) 363-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine with an upgraded eight-speed transmission with the auto stick and paddle shifters. This rear-wheel drive only version includes high performance brakes to handle the extra speed and power. This engine earns a 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway EPA fuel economy rating; we averaged 21.1 mpg during a week of mostly local and mountain driving. A buff magazine lists a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. The Chrysler 300 tips the scales at just over two-tons for the base limited model with the Hemi adding about 300 pounds more.
The big Chrysler trim levels include the 300 Limited, 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum. Pricing ranges from $32,390, including the destination charge, for the RWD Limited to $43,390 for the 300C Platinum. All-wheel drive adds $2,500 on the top three trim levels and $4,195 on the Limited – it’s only available with the V-6 engine, however. With all the options the RWD 300C Platinum edition price can go as high as $52,670.
Although the two Safetytec option packages add $1,695 each we think they are ‘must haves.’ They add ParkSense front and rear park assist, adaptive cruise control with a full-speed forward collision warning system and full stop, Rear Cross Path detection, blind-spot monitoring automatic high beam headlight control, lane departure warning and rain sensor wipers along with a few other features that help keep you safe – a huge bargain!
Bill went to the 300 introduction in Austin in December and in early February we spent a week driving a 2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum edition on our home turf. Driving on the winding mountain roads near our home, the large car feels solid and quite agile, plus very fast. It’s a very comfortable car to drive and ride in and a good example of taking something good and making it even better.