Life and Religion
|Chrysler’s 300 has the design and power of a winner|
|Tweaks improve the sedan to another level|
|Published Thursday, May 21, 2015 8:21 am|
When Chrysler introduced the 300 sedan in 2005, it caused quite the stir in the automotive world. “Is that a Bentley?” some asked. If you changed the grille and plunked down more cash for the Hemi engine version, then yes, you had something kinda Betnley-ish. That was Ralph Gilles’ intent when he designed it and, wow, did he ever achieve.
Like anything else that’s hot, the fuss about the 300 has cooled a bit but it hasn’t stopped Gilles from making major improvements for 2016. This is the best this car has been in its rather short history.
The exterior has received nips and tucks – nothing drastic. You know this is a 300 at first glance. Yet those LED headlamps and smoothed grille are unmistakably new. The trunk has been tidied up and it looks a bit smaller when opened. Still, room is ample.
The interior is where the 300 once lacked, now it’s where it excels. The look is far more upscale and the fit and finish is great. The really big touch screen is he center of the dash and controls many of the car’s functions. There are physical buttons for the audio system (Harmon International ) and the two zone automatic climate control but each is mimic on the control screen.
The leather seats are power articulated and heated for the front passengers. The rear bench is comfortable for three abreast seating but I think two would feel more special. Leg room is plentiful, as well as hip and head.
The slickest feature is the gear selector. It’s a rotary dial on the console. It’s very BMW and Jaguar in execution.
The 300 is powered by 292 horsepower V6. It makes 262 pounds-feet of torque and is coupled to an eight-speed transmission that’s slightly balky in the lower gears from time to time. At speed it changes gears with a finesse usually found in cars that cost twice this.
Trounce the gas peddle and you get really good acceleration. I even chirped the front tires coming out of a parking lot (strictly coincidental).
The ride is smooth, but not bouncy. There’s a good bit of road feel communicated by the four-wheel independent suspension. This car is very comfortable cruising down a straight stretch of highway or attacking some twisties. Move up to the SRT8 and, well, you really can do some fast-paced sightseeing. The steering is a little heavy but in a good way. It’s now electronically controlled.
The 300 is still based on some Mercedes hardware from the ‘90s, which is OK and says a lot about that E-Class chassis. Chrysler continues to refine the setup with marvelous results.
My only complaint is the lack of a rear view camera. I thought that was pretty much standard now. Oh, well.
My 300 was the limited model, which is just up from the base model. All 300’s are rear-wheel driven or some can be fitted with all-wheel-drive. The limited comes with a load of standard equipment which includes dual zone air, leather seats that are heated, auto dimming mirrors, eight-speed transmission, keyless entry and start, Sirius/XM Radio, automatic headlights, UConnect telematics, all speed traction control, antilock brakes and stability control. That’s what $31,335 buys you. Throw in another $995 and you get navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and high definition radio.
The test price of my 300 Limited was $33,385. Not bad, but you can pile on the options or move up a couple of models and see yourself pushing $50,000. That’s not necessary. The as-equipped 300 Limited is more than enough car for the above average person.
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