Here’s a controversial opinion: The 2018 Chrysler 300 is one of the best American luxury sedans out there.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6/5.7L V8
Output: 292 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed auto
US Fuel Economy (MPG/RWD): 19 city, 30 hwy, 23 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 12.4 city, 7,8 hwy, 10.3 combined
US Price: Starts at $30,090
CAN Price: Starts at $43,040
(All pricing includes destination)
The qualities that define an American luxury sedan should be very different from the qualities of a good European, Asian, or even Scandinavian luxury sedan. Luxury means different things depending on where a car originates, and American luxury sedans must have two things: Road presence and comfortable, smooth cruising.
German luxury sedans would add sharp driving dynamics to the mix (BMW, Mercedes, and Audi), British luxury is all about quiet excess and tradition (think Bentley and Rolls-Royce), and Swedish luxury is minimalist, high tech, and restrained (Volvo).
And in this way, the Chrysler 300 is as American as meat and potatoes.
The 300’s American-sized bigness gives it incredible road presence. There’s no getting around the fact that this is an old car, but it is still one of the best-looking sedans out there. The designers of this sedan did a brilliant job giving this car a classic, bold American style that has timeless good looks — it’s old, but it has aged extremely gracefully with minimal updates. There isn’t a traditional three-box sedan out there with this much road presence and the 300’s boxy lines and imposing stance are instantly attention-grabbing without trying too hard. Tasteful details, a unique light signature, and massive wheels all help give this sedan a lot of swagger.
What About Driving Dynamics?
Believe it or not, good driving dynamics aren’t a hallmark of the traditional American luxury sedan. The Cadillac CT6 is a fantastic luxury sedan that’s refined, high-tech, and drives like a dream. It takes a very German approach to luxury but ends up falling short when it comes to its Teutonic competition — it’s good at driving and luxury, but it isn’t amazing at both.
The Chrysler 300, on the other hand, doesn’t compete with cars like the CT6, but it’s unabashedly American and takes corner carving driving dynamics out of the equation, making it able to focus on what it does best, which is cruise comfortably. It’s a huge mistake to think that every driver out there wants to pretend they’re a race car driver and dive into every apex with the ferocity of a hungry predator. Some people just want to cruise and be comfortable — and Chrysler understands this.
I typically have a very heavy foot and I appreciate manual, rear-drive sports cars like any enthusiast would, but when driving this big sedan, I have no desire to speed. I enjoy the relaxed driving of the 300 because it suits the car’s personality. It’s laid back. It makes me feel too chill to be in a hurry.
The Chrysler 300 comes with a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 that gets the heavy sedan going confidently enough, but you can also opt for a big 5.7-liter HEMI V8 if you wanted a bit more growl and passing speed. Still, with its huge weight, relaxed suspension, and somewhat blunt steering, this car is not made for corners, and that’s perfectly OK. The steering is heavy enough to keep centered in a lane easily but light enough that parking it isn’t hard work.
What you want in a car like this is smooth cruising and the 300 glides over rough roads, although our 300 S model with slightly increased power output has a sportier suspension setup that takes some of that floatiness away. The S isn’t fooling anyone; this isn’t a sporty car, so why even bother? Just get the base 300 because it’s more comfortable, which is what this car is all about.
Like its big American exterior, the 300 is equally big inside and made for larger people. The huge seats easily hold a stereotypical “American sized” person, but for a person with a smaller frame like me, the setup makes the driving position slightly awkward — the seats are massive and the seat back has a shape that isn’t natural for a smaller person. It always feels like I’m leaning back no matter how upright the seat is, but larger folks won’t have this problem. The wheel is also very meaty, but perhaps a bit too chunky for my smaller hands.
One big improvement is that Chrysler got rid of the terrible joystick-like electronic gear selector and instead opted for a user-friendly rotary gear selector knob, which also opens up space on the center console. There is a slot next to the rotary dial that’s supposedly for a phone, but it’s pretty useless, as most phones are way too big to fit.
The UConnect infotainment system, which is available with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, is one of the best systems in the industry and is attractive, responsive, and incredibly user-friendly with simple menu structures, and intuitive controls – everything from pairing a phone via Bluetooth, to entering a destination in the navigation, to finding a radio station is so straightforward a child could do it. It is slightly annoying to have to access stuff like the heated seats and steering wheel through the touchscreen when there should be a physical button for it, but the system is smart because it usually turns those on automatically if they were on when you turned off the car.
Otherwise, the 300’s interior has very luxurious leanings. The materials aren’t cheap, there isn’t a whole lot of hard plastic, the fit and finish are decent, and the design is clean. The seats are available in two-tone leather and with quilting, and the car is available with all the tech and driver assistants you could want.
The Verdict: 2018 Chrysler 300 Review
The Chrysler 300 is old-school in the best way and there’s nothing else like it on the market right now — there’s no other car that has so much swagger and yet makes its driver feel so chill — and it’s also somewhat of a bargain. The naturally aspirated, big-bodied cruiser is a dying breed of car, but one that has defined American luxury for decades. When time leaves this stylish and comfy sedan behind, it will be a sad day indeed.
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