The Chrysler 300 sedan is a stylish, rear-wheel-drive, full-size retort to mundane four-door offerings like Honda’s Accord or the Toyota Camry. Since this historical nameplate was reintroduced back in 2005, it’s brought more passion to the segment than most of its competitors put together.
And to ensure that it keeps charming customers, the folks in Auburn Hills have evolved the 300, refining its styling, adding new features and, in short, making it better than ever for the 2016 model year.
The car’s updated styling is as bold and brash as ever, but perhaps with a touch more sophistication than model years past. Its grille still dominates the front end, taking up at least a third of the 300’s face. This a styling element people will likely either love or loathe.
And I fall into the former category, because I think it looks particularly handsome. The 300S I evaluated had a black-mesh grille, dressed up with a black trim ring. On S models, the pieces surrounding the daylight opening are also black, something that gives the car an unexpectedly sporty look for a large sedan.
Furthering its aggressive appearance is a liberal slathering of Redline 3-Coat Pearl exterior paint, which looks as hot as an ingot of steel rolling out of a blast furnace; so do the Hyper Black-finished aluminum rims. Rear-drive models roll on 20-inch wheels while variants with all-wheel drive make do with 19s. For drivers who want a truly sporty feel, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires are available.
Power and Performance
Smartly, Chrysler offers several powertrains in the 2016 300. Kicking things off, the base propulsion unit is the company’s award-winning Pentastar V6, though it’s anything but entry-level.
Thanks to special tweaks, output of this bent-six has been enhanced slightly. In the 300S, it puts out 300 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of twist. Helping it breath more easily, these sport-tuned models feature a special, freer-flowing exhaust system, though you’d never really know it. The car is still too quiet to please true enthusiasts.
Like any proper, rear-wheel-drive American sedan, the 300 is also offered with a V8 engine. As in years past, it displaces a burly 5.7-liters and appropriately also delivers a suitably throaty rumble when provoked. Output measures 363 horses along with 394 lb-ft of twist.
Singing backup for both of these lead vocalists is an eight-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox shifts well and makes the most of each engine’s output while simultaneously minimizing fuel consumption.
Speaking of efficiency, the all-wheel-drive 300S I evaluated was equipped with the Pentastar V6. Accordingly, it stickered at 18 miles per gallon around town and 27 on interstate jaunts. Combined, it should average 21 mpg.
However, if you don’t need the extra grip afforded by all-wheel drive, you can expect a serious boost in fuel efficiency. Six-cylinder 300s return up to 31 mpg on the highway. If you’re curious, rear-drive models with the optional Hemi sticker at 19 mpg combined.
Given its premium positioning and up-level features, it should be no surprise that the 2016 300S comes with a wealth of amenities, many of which could have been pilfered from luxury rivals.
Drivers are treated to standard bi-halogen projector headlamps, a cap-less fuel filler and LED fog lights. Beyond this, there’s automatic dual-zone climate control with a built-in cabin air filter, keyless entry, remote start and a pair of USB ports to keep your mobile devices topped up.
Upping the luxury ante, customers can also opt for things like adaptive headlamps, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a dual-pane sunroof. This is all included in the 300 Premium Group package.
But if you want the latest driver-assistance technology, the SafetyTec Group should be on your list. This adds things like full-speed collision warning, adaptive cruise control with full stop capability, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and much more.
Uconnect is NEWconnect
Uconnect gains a host of valuable enhancements for the new model year. Drivers can drag and drop icons for their favorite features, and keep them right in the menu bar for quick access.
iPhone users can tap into the power of Apple’s Siri digital assistant. Using natural language commands, they can send text messages, play music, make phone calls and even get turn-by-turn directions safely while driving.
Chrysler’s Uconnect system also offers a do-not-disturb setting for 2016. Motorists who wish to be left alone can enable this feature, which sends phone calls to voice mail and can suppress text messages.
Finally, engineers have made the 300’s owner’s manual available right in the center of its dashboard. This also includes quick reference guides to help with frequently asked questions. Additionally, this feature can be updated over the air so it’s always current. Try that with a paper owner’s manual!
As in years past, the updated Chrysler 300 has a high quality interior; it’s well thought out and constructed of materials that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury car. Its controls, notably the Uconnect system, work without fuss and are a snap to decipher.
The blue-tinted instrument cluster looks classy and is easy to read at a glance. Additionally, it’s augmented with a large, customizable digital display making it even more information dense.
Outward visibility is more than livable and the back bench has plenty of space for even lanky adult passengers.
However, seating is one of my biggest gripes with the Chrysler 300. Front or rear, the accommodations are far from ideal. Overly soft and squishy, the seats’ padding brings to mind sitting in a dish of polenta, minus gritty bits of corn mingling with your nether regions. These seats need a good bit more starch to be long-haul comfortable.
Putting it all in motion, the 2016 Chrysler 300S is seriously quick, even with “just” a V6 engine. That Pentastar is a real performer, delivering ample amounts of thrust. Refinement is another benefit; it’s also one of the smoothest running V6s on the market today.
The car’s all-wheel-drive system seems to help with dry-weather grip, though it’s likely much handier in inclement conditions, which will soon blanket much of North America.
Running through its ratio stack, the transmission works well enough and its rotary shifter is an improvement over the awkward electronically controlled lever of years past, though its placement on the center console looks like a complete afterthought.
Overall, the 300S drivers like a big car that’s trying really hard to be small. Through corners, its body rolls a bit, but not as much as you might expect. It’s quick on its feet and reasonably nimble. The focus here is definitely luxury over sport, but for the most part this machine is enjoyable to pilot.
The Verdict: 2016 Chrysler 300S AWD
The 2016 Chrysler 300S is a large sedan with a spacious passenger compartment, roomy trunk and luxurious interior. It drives well and is quite efficient, especially if you get one with a V6 engine and rear-wheel drive. But is it better than rival sedans like the Camry or Accord? That’s a tough question to answer.
The 300s is certainly more interesting than these models, with a bigger body and more tasteful styling both inside and out.
The 300S evaluated here cost around $42,000 out the door as it was loaded up with many of the high-end options Chrysler offers. If value is important an entry-level version of the car can be had for less than 33 big ones.
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