There’s no doubting the huge popularity of SUVs and crossovers and that’s where so much of the action can be found these days in the auto industry. Even so, there are still lots of buyers around who prefer a sedan, especially in the full-size segment.
Of course, Chrysler has always had something from this class in its lineup and has done ever since its first car rolled off the line. We tend to forget nowadays that Chrysler’s name was made with elegant, upscale, large sedans and although cars like this don’t dominate the market anymore, the company still offers luxurious big sedans with its 300 series.
The 300 we best know today was a design success right from its introduction and much admired for its low-slung look, big wheels and opulent appearance. It just ‘looked right’ from the start in 2005, so no serious changes have been made over the years and I’d be the first to applaud that. As the old saying goes, ‘if it’s right, don’t fix it.’ Changes over the model years have included lots of detail upgrades like lighting, brightwork and other elements of the bodywork, but the car is still only in its second generation. Incidentally, the car is sold in Europe as a Lancia Thema, top of that Italian maker’s line. Lancia has a diesel variant that’s not sold here.
My most recent 300 test drive was in a 2017 Touring AWD, a car that’s very well equipped in just about every department and to add to its year-round driving appeal, all-wheel is included. I’ve always believed that 300s were excellent cars dynamically with nice taut suspension, light steering and a feeling for the driver that the car will go anywhere you point it regardless of how tortuous the roads are. With all-wheel drive, there’s another measure of safety, especially on wet or snow-covered roads.
The 300 is powered by a very satisfying 291-horsepower 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 but for buyers who want even more power, there are several models with bigger engines, right up to an awesome Hemi V-8 developing 363-horsepower. The basic engine has an 8-speed automatic transmission. There are many performance enhancements available for these cars and the best plan is to discuss specific needs with your dealer who will know the intricacies of the options list. I thought that the fairly basic car was very good indeed and half the price of a luxury import from Europe that doesn’t offer much more in terms of equipment, style and driver enjoyment. Inside, the car is again highly satisfying. It’s roomy and comfortable to ride in and has outstanding visibility all round. The big 8.4-inch touchscreen is a fine piece of work and quite possibly one of the best in the industry. It’s very easy to use without studying the manual (although all owners should do that as a matter of routine) and mobile phone hookup is a 30-second job.
Similarly, the navigation system is intuitive to operate and highly accurate. Chrysler has made many improvements to its infotainment system for the 2017 model year, but it’s always been a reliable and easy-to-use feature. The instrumentation and controls are well executed and there’s even a ‘proper’ clock with hands – very classy! There’s lots of interior stowage space and the trunk is huge, so the name “Touring” is not misplaced on this car.
Whichever 300 you opt for, you’ll be getting one of the better large sedans on the road. It may not have a “prestigious” European badge on the grille, but it ranks up with the best and the prices are remarkably fair.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Full-size, four-door sedan
ENGINE: Options include V-6 and V-8 power units
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed Torqueflite plus AWD
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in under 6-secs with the Hemi V-8
FUEL ECONOMY: 11-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: Base, $42,745. As tested, $50,200