Competes with: Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Kia Cadenza
Looks like: The new 300 reclaims much of the swagger of its now decade-old forebear
Drivetrain: 292- or 300-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 or 363-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with eight-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: First quarter of 2015
Starting price: $32,390, including a destination charge
The Chrysler 300 was a smash hit when it debuted as a 2005 model and now, a decade later, the sedan has a new boldness that harkens back to that of the original model. The 2015 Chrysler 300 is offered with V-6 or V-8 power and rear- or all-wheel drive, and besides its new styling and features, there’s a new high-end Platinum trim level with upscale appointments. The 300 arrives early next year with the same starting price as before: $32,390, including the destination charge.
Attitude has been a central part of the Chrysler 300 since the beginning, but it’s been heightened for the 2015 model year. The sedan’s distinctive snout-like grille dives deeper into the bumper than before, and its finish and surround varies by trim level.
The grille is bordered by projector-beam headlights with LED daytime running lights. Adaptive high-intensity-discharge headlights and LED fog lights are optional. New LED taillights, updated rear bumper styling and rectangular exhaust outlets finish the car.
Standard aluminum wheels measure 17 inches in diameter, and 18-, 19- or 20-inch wheels are optional. A panoramic sunroof is also optional.
Changes to the interior don’t dramatically alter the cabin’s appearance, but they do bring new technology to the 300. Right in front of the multifunction steering wheel is a new instrument panel with a 7-inch full-color configurable screen. The car’s previous T-handle console gear selector has been replaced with a rotary-style knob, and the controls layout in the lower middle section of the dashboard is new.
Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, Chrysler’s Uconnect multimedia system with an 8.4-inch touch-screen, USB connectivity and Bluetooth streaming audio, an MP3 jack, heated front seats and a 60/40-split folding backseat.
The upscale Platinum trim level includes hand-sanded low-gloss wood trim and a leather-wrapped instrument panel and center console. Other options include Nappa leather upholstery; remote start; a navigation system; a choice of premium stereos from Alpine, BeatsAudio and Harman Kardon; heated and ventilated front seats; heated rear seats; and a heated steering wheel.
Under the Hood
The standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine makes 292 horsepower (300 hp in the 300S trim level) while the optional 5.7-liter V-8 is rated at 363 hp. Both engines team with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and while V-6 models offer rear- or all-wheel drive, V-8 models are rear-wheel drive only.
EPA-estimated gas mileage for the rear-wheel-drive V-6 is 19/31 mpg city/highway; it drops to 18/27 mpg with all-wheel drive. V-8 models, which have cylinder-deactivation technology to save fuel, are rated at 16/25 mpg.
The performance-oriented 300S trim level includes a Sport button that quickens gear changes, increases throttle responsiveness and modifies the steering feel. Versions with all-wheel drive also gain a rear-biased torque split for better handling when Sport is activated, and the 300S also has a unique exhaust system and a sport suspension.
A number of advanced safety features are available for the 300. They include forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with full-stop capability, a blind spot warning system, rear cross-path detection, and lane departure warning and prevention. Front and rear parking sensors and a backup camera are also optional.