The Chrysler 300 has been soldiering on for quite some time now as the unofficial flag bearer for Detroit manufacturing. Forget for a moment that the 300 is actually assembled in Canada using a Mexican built V6 engine; the 300 has become synonymous with Chrysler’s successful ‘Imported from Detroit’ ad campaign.
|1. The base 3.6L V6 engine makes 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
2. V6 models only come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
3. Official ratings suggest 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway. We averaged 18.1 mpg.
4. The 300 AWD starts at $36,540. Our 300C AWD tester costs $46,670.
To keep this car fresh and relevant, Chrysler has been continuously updating the 300 with new engines, more features and better safety technology. The 2014 300 begins at a price of $31,540 after destination charges, while all-wheel drive (AWD) models start at $36,540 after mandatory ‘option’ packages are added.
Start clicking on more option packages and things begin to balloon faster than an investment banker’s bonus payout. With the Light Group, Harman Kardon Audio Group, SafetyTec and the Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof, the final bill comes to $46,670. That is a lot of money for a 300C, especially considering that for a similar price it is possible to get a Cadillac CTS or Lexus GS 350. Of course neither of those cars will come as well equipped as the 300C, but most feature a more refined architecture and carry a higher pedigree from their respective marques.
No Hemi at this Price
Making matters worse, at this price it still doesn’t have a V8 under the hood. Yes, for those not keeping score at home, the ‘C’ after the 300 model name is no longer exclusive to HEMI V8 models. Part of the reason for this change is that the 3.6 liter Pentastar engine is nothing like the wheezy 3.5 liter V6 unit that used to power lesser Chrysler 300s. The Pentastar makes a healthy 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Despite these impressive output numbers, this engine is saddled with 4,235 lbs. of Chrysler metal and plastic. To get the most out of the engine, all V6 models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth shifts and quick enough reactions for this full-size sled. By having a heap of gears to choose from, the first few are set with a high ratio allowing good acceleration from a stand still. As speed increases, the lack of torque is overcome by the laws of physics and the engine can no longer propel the car with the same authority. As well, Chrysler has set the higher gears for improved fuel efficiency, allowing the 300C V6 AWD to be officially rated at 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. With winter tires equipped and temperatures below the freezing mark, we could only muster an 18.1 mpg average during the course of a week.
Surprisingly Capable All-Wheel Drive
With these cold temperatures came snow; a lot of it. Chrysler’s AWD system is designed with an active transfer case that will actually disconnect the front axle from the drivetrain to maximum fuel efficiency and we must say it works flawlessly. Not once was there a delay in achieving traction on wintery surfaces; if the rear wheels slipped, the front wheels were ready to pick up the slack. In fact, when driving at speeds prudent to the road conditions, traction control and stability control rarely ever had to engage. These systems can never fully be disabled, even when pressing the traction control button.
When turned “off,” they will allow a little wheel spin as well as the tail to wiggle around out a bit to help the car out of deeper snow or for parking lot shenanigans. Either way, if things get a little too out of hand, the system will step back in to help save your bacon.
The 300C V6 AWD is not a sporty car in the least, which is good because it isn’t meant to be. This is a traditional, full-size American car aimed at comfortable cruising. With that in mind it came as a welcome surprise that the suspension was actually calibrated to absorbs bumps and offer a smooth, compliant ride. It’s a welcome change compared to so many cars today that are equipped with suspensions stiffened to make the car seem sportier than it is. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here.
Premium and Easy to Use
Inside it is all luxury and comfort. We love the multi-toned brown interior that looks elegant and classy, but the textured wood trim is a fake-feeling turnoff. The front seats drew frustration from several passengers who found the upper portion of the back seat to be uncomfortably hard. Rear seat space on the other hand is still a strong suit for the 300C. With 40.1 inches of legroom and a soft leather wrapped bench, two passengers can easily come along for an extended road trip. The 16.3 cubic foot trunk should hold plenty of luggage.
Perhaps the best aspect of the 300C is how user friendly it is. The button-heavy steering wheel takes a little getting used to, but it makes for hands-free driving once you learn it.
Everything else is a breeze to understand inside the 300. Uconnect still is one of the easiest infotainment units to use on the market today and the climate control system is well presented and simple-to-operate.
But it’s the GPS navigation unit that really stands out. Far too many manufacturers have created navigation systems that are complex, inaccurate or grossly out of date. So what did Chrysler do? They asked the navigation experts at Garmin to create a system for the 300C. It’s a no brainer and we hope more manufacturers seek outside help with navigation set-ups. Most are using well known third party companies for audio systems; why not do the same for GPS?
The 300C does offer a lot of luxury and technology in a full-size sedan. As mentioned though, it does become quite expensive and despite a few technological updates, it can’t mask the fact that the car is in need of a refresh. But, if things like adaptive lighting, adaptive cruise and a premium audio system are not all that important, grab a well-equipped 300C V6 AWD for around $40,000; it is just as compelling of a car with a far more competitive price for this segment.