Few cars express a greater sense of capability and confidence than the Chrysler 300, the marque’s largest sedan. Even fewer are so quintessentially, boldly American in essence, with a heritage that dates back to 1955.
Classified as a large family sedan, the Chrysler 300 provides abundant helpings of space and luxury amenities. In addition to a smooth-running and fuel-efficient V6 engine, it’s available with brawny V8 power. More than most comparable vehicles, the Chrysler 300 occupies a position between near-premium and mainstream categories.
Following a major refreshing for 2015, the 2016 Chrysler 300 gets some updates to its technology and suspension.
For 2016, a new 90th Anniversary Edition option package celebrates 90 years of Chrysler automobiles. Technical changes include a new Drag and Drop menu bar on the 8.4-inch touchscreen control interface, and addition of Siri Eyes Free voice control. A new safety package for 2016 Chrysler 300 models can prevent or mitigate forward collisions and keep the car in its lane. The base suspension is a bit firmer for 2016, while 2016 Chrysler 300S models are offered with a performance suspension.
With its boldly upright design and unabashedly squared off profile, the Chrysler 300 looks ready to swagger and quarrel. Yet, there’s a substantial degree of elegance.
Inside, it’s a blend of smooth curves and organic shapes. The top model boasts unique two-tone leather upholstery. Space is plentiful for five, in an interior aimed toward comfort, featuring supportive bolstering and firm (but compliant) seat cushions. Headroom is spacious, but the back seat can be short on legroom.
Both the 292-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 and the 363-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 mate with an 8-speed automatic transmission. In the Chrysler 300S, the V6 is rated 300 horsepower, courtesy of a cold-air intake. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive optional for the V6. A Hemi V8 model can quickly reach 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.
Despite hefty weight and large dimensions, fuel economy is decent, at least with the V6 engine. Chrysler’s 8-speed automatic transmission helps. With the V6, the Chrysler 300 is EPA-rated at 19/31 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimates to 18/27 mpg, 21 Combined. With V8 power, the 300 is EPA-rated at a hardly frugal 16/25 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 300 a Good rating in all categories, except the small front overlap test.
The modern-day Chrysler 300 retained the basic profile it adopted when introduced as a 2005 model. More than nearly any vehicle, the Chrysler 300 flaunts its emphatically American look, building upon a tautly upright, square-shouldered profile that’s both burly and sleek.
Up front, the large, simple, trapezoidal grille uses a mesh pattern encompassing the winged Chrysler logo. The lower air dam has chrome accents or black surrounds depending on model. LED taillamps feature an illuminated halo. he 300S gets unique side sills, to enhance its sportier image.
Spacious and refined, the Chrysler 300 delivers an indisputably American take on luxury motoring. Quiet and comfortable, constructed solidly, this big sedan lets in just enough noise from engine, road, and wind to keep you closely connected with the pavement below.
In addition to high-tech appearance, the interior exhibits good fits and finishes. Lower-trim versions aren’t quite so appealing, with expanses of hard plastic. Rubberized material covering the dashboard looks, and feels, pleasant.
One tech highlight is the Uconnect control interface, with an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Icons are large enough so hitting them with a finger isn’t difficult. Strong processing power translates to quick reactions, and the design is as easy to understand as any such system on the market.
Seats mirror American tastes: large and supportive, with plenty of head and leg room up front. Rear-seat passengers may also expect comfort, but taller occupants might lack full leg room. Visibility is quite good in all directions.
Handling is more about comfort and ride quality than performance. When the road starts to twist, the 300 driver will become aware of the 300’s size, though standard electric power steering eases the task of taking those curves.
Not surprisingly, the 300 drives like a big car: confident and stable, even fun, though it leans in hard cornering. You’re also likely to notice soft, heaving motions while accelerating and braking. Those motions are controlled better in a 300S model without impairing ride comfort.
We found the V6 propels the big Chrysler 300 smartly. Whether accelerating onto the freeway or passing on a rural two-lane, most buyers will deem it more than adequately powerful.
Even so, the 363-hp V8 ramps up the power substantially. Power is conveyed in a smooth, controlled manner, befitting a car that leans toward luxury.
Sport modes (on 300S, 300C with V8, and 300C Platinum) sharpen performance: The S mode on the rotary shift selector adjusts engine, transmission, throttle, and paddle-shift settings. A dashboard Sport button adds sport-tuned steering.
The Chrysler 300 is a traditional American sedan that comes in four distinct trim levels, so there’s a model for every big-sedan fan, whether they prefer luxury, sportiness, or performance. Not everyone applauds the 300’s blocky profile or chrome detailing, but any aesthetic displeasure will probably be overpowered by its roadgoing behavior.
Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.