Boasting a mix of high style, luxurious features and potent powertrains, the 300 is Chrysler's flagship sedan. Offered with standard rear-wheel-drive or available rear-wheel-drive form, the full-size 300 can be had with a thrifty V6 that returns 31 mpg on the highway or a Hemi V8 with 363 horsepower.
Like its Dodge Charger platform mate, the latest 300 (which is also available in high-performance 300 SRT8 form) received a very thorough facelift that modernized the styling cues that gave the old car such a distinct street presence. With upgraded materials and a more cohesive dashboard design, the interior is also hugely improved, addressing what was often cited as the biggest shortcoming of the previous model.
Outside, the front end tones down the Bentley influences in favor of something a bit more chiseled and modern, and clearly has familial ties with its 200 sedan little brother. The side sills were also reworked, and there are visible changes to the side window profile. The small triangle at the rear-side window is gone, resulting in an enlarged glass area, but a thin pillar appears to reduce the size of the roll-down portion of the side glass. The rear-end sports LED tail-lights, a reshaped trunk lid, and a reshaped rear bumper with integrated exhaust tips which are more a part of the rear styling.
The cabin features an upscale ambience, plenty of space for five passengers and Chrysler's well-sorted Uconnect Access infotainment system (for a complete description of Uconnect Access, check out Leftlane's Spotlight On: Uconnect in-depth article).
Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the 300's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Underpinning the latest 300 is Chrysler's LY architecture essentially a heavily reworked version of the outgoing LX chassis, though some components were carried over. In order to improve fuel economy, Chrysler employed a combination of improved aerodynamics, axle ratios and drivetrains for the latest 300. At the heart of the improvements is Chrysler's Pentastar V6 engine.
Replacing both the mid-range 3.5 liter V6 and the boat-anchor entry-level 2.7-liter V6 of the old car is Chrysler's 3.6 liter Pentastar V6, which serves up 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The engine is teamed with a impressive eight-speed automatic supplied by ZF (and used in high-zoot luxury machines like the Audi A8) that facilitates good acceleration and noteworthy fuel economy: the benchmark zero-to-60 mph sprint is achieved in the mid-six second range and fuel economy is rated at 19/31 mpg. It should be noted that both figures reflect the standard rear-wheel drive car; the optional all-wheel-drive system slows the acceleration by a few ticks and decreases fuel economy to 18/27 mpg.
For the latest model year, the 300S model includes a slightly more powerful version of the Pentastar V6. Thanks to a cold-air induction kit and a sport exhaust system, the engine is boosted to 300 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque.
As with the outgoing car, the most powerful engine for the 300 (besides the 6.4-liter V8 in the SRT8) is a 5.7-liter Hemi. This motor produces an ample 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque, enough to push the big sedan from zero-to-60 mph in under six seconds. The motor is hooked up to a somewhat outdated (albeit Mercedes-Benz-designed) five-speed automatic, holding mileage to a still-decent 16/25 mpg. Adding all-wheel-drive reduces mileage to 15/23 mpg.
Trim Level Breakdown
Chrysler simplified the 300 trim level lineup for the latest model year, leaving five trims available: 300, 300S, 300C, 300C Luxury Series and 300 Glacier. The Pentastar V6 is standard on all trims, while the Hemi V8 (previously standard on the 300C) can be spec'd with any model.
The entry-level model, simply known as the 300, features the Pentastar/eight-speed auto powertrain combo in addition to leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a keyless Enter'n Go system, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, heated fold-away mirrors, interior LED lights, a six-speaker CD/AM/FM sound system, the aforementioned Uconnect Touch media center, a power adjustable drivers seat, Bluetooth connectivity (including audio streaming) and hill start assist.
To those features, the 300S adds 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, a 10 speaker sound system with a 526 watt amp, an 8.4-inch touch screen display, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, a touring suspension with performance tires, blacked headlamp bezels and a black-bar grille with a bright surround. The 300S also includes the 300-horsepower version of the Pentastar V6. Options include brakes and a performance suspension.
Stepping up the 300C brings perforated leather seats that offer heating and ventilation up front, heated second-row seats, genuine wood trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood trim, a back-up camera, heated and cooled cup holders, rain sensitive windshield wipers, SmartBeam intelligent headlights, power adjustable pedals and a power tilt/telescoping steering column. While the Hemi V8 was standard on the 300C last year, it is now an extra-cost option,
Highlights from the list of optional features include a navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and a blind-spot warning system.
Distinguishing the exterior of the top-spec Luxury Series from lesser 300s is a unique platinum-chrome finish applied to the mesh grille in addition to the door handles, mirror caps and other various trim pieces, while 19- or 20-inch polished wheels complete the look.
The real story, however, is the upgraded interior, which benefits from Poltrona Frau "Foligno" leather upholstery on the seats, dashboard, door panels and center console. 18-ounce Berber mats adorn the floor, while the seats are heated and cooled up front (rear passengers must make due with just the heating function). The steering wheel, which features metal paddle shifters, is trimmed in matching leather and features a unique chrome accent ring. Topping it all off is matte natural pore mocha wood trim.
The Luxury Series can be had with all of the powertrain configurations available on the normal 300.
The new Glacier special edition combines all-wheel-drive with a number of unique interior and exterior touches to create a special, all-weather-capable trim level.
Giving the 300 Glacier a special look are body-color fascia accents, gloss black mirrors and headlamp bezels, black chrome sculpted horizontal grille blades and 19-inch aluminum wheels finished in "black carbon." The interior benefits from front sports seats with black "Falls" cloth center inserts, black leather bolsters and black French-seamed stitching. Black Piano trim, matte carbon hydrographic accents and discreet "Glacier" badges complete the package.
Chrysler has created a unique 300 Motown special edition designed to pay homage to Detroit's musical heritage.
Based on the 300 V6 equipped with Chrysler's new eight-speed automatic transmission, the Motown Edition adds chrome accents on the car's front and rear fascias, door mirror caps and door handles. The package also includes a unique Mopar front grille and 20-inch polished "heritage" design aluminum wheels.
The 300 Motown Edition can be had in four colors - Bright White, Gloss Black, Deep Cherry Red and new Jazz Blue.
Inside the 300 Motown Edition boasts Pearl White Nappa leather upholstery with black piping and accent stripes on the seats, as well as Piano Black and Black Olive Ash wood accents throughout the cabin.
The Motown Edition also comes with 100 tracks from original Motown recording artists loaded on its Uconnect 8.4's SD card reader.
The 300 is fitted as standard with dual front, front side and front and rear head airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, ABS and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Chrysler 300 faces competition from a range of full-size, semi-premium sedans including the Ford Taurus, the Hyundai Genesis, the Nissan Maxima, the Buick Lacrosse and the Toyota Avalon.