Still one of the best values in the premium class The rounded lines over its underlying boxy architecture, its hunkered down stance and low roofline all contribute to the 300C's sinister attitude.
I am well known for my love of classic cars; for me there’s something exciting about the simplicity, heritage and stories behind each old car. One thing I’ve been asked a lot over the years is which modern cars I think will become desirable classics 30 or 40 years down the road from now. Assuming these now-aging inventions are not completely outlawed by then, the easy answer to that question is the performance based cars; the muscle cars, the factory tuners and almost anything with a drop-top. However, I usually include in that list the Chrysler 300. My rationale is that since it’s quasi-reintroduction in 2005 the 300’s aggressive styling and promise of affordable luxury has allowed it to carve out a distinctive identity that sets it apart from everything else on the road. So I couldn’t have been happier to spend a chilly week in December with one of the best Chrysler has to offer.
The styling of the 300 has always been a little controversial, for most it’s a love it or hate it thing and after picking up my $48,700 fully loaded 300C AWD Luxury Series, I have to admit that I’ve fallen for its looks. The rounded lines over its underlying boxy architecture, its hunkered down stance and low roofline all contribute to its sinister attitude. Yet, the car still manages to look modern and elegant with its swooping profile, chrome accents and surprisingly refined exterior fit and finish. My tester 300C came with a fine mesh front grill flanked by adaptive HID headlamps that really set off the front end. The only part of my tester that I didn’t find gorgeous was the wheels; the AWD models have a different set of wheel options than the RWD models, and while the RWD 300C Luxury comes with brilliant looking 20inch chrome rims, my AWD tester came with grey painted 19inch rims, which felt a little out of place on such a bold and flashy looking sedan.
The same bold styling is carried into the interior of the 300C and my tester came equipped with a truly luxurious two-tone ivory and chocolate brown interior. The interior doesn’t just look luxurious, it backs up its game with exceptionally comfortable heated and ventilated seats, real wood trim with an interesting matte finish, a massive panoramic sunroof, heated and chilled cup holders, heated steering wheel and everything else you’d expect in a top of the line luxury sedan. Everything inside the 300C is fully adjustable, and I truly mean everything, as I quickly found out after leaving some mischievous colleagues waiting in the car a little too long. This makes it easy to find a perfect driving position that makes the miles just melt away – a ideal highway companion. As pleasant as it is inside the 300C, there is a lack of storage space up front as I wasn’t able to find a handy place to keep my phone or appointment book within arm’s reach. My other gripe with the interior would be the use of some cheap feeling materials on the door panels. They look great, but given that the door panels are a high-touch area, in a car with an MSRP that’s approaching $50K, they should feel great too.
At this price however, my tester included the optional 8.4” Uconnect multimedia touch screen with navigation. The multimedia interface itself is excellent, there is virtually no lag and the menus are very intuitive. I do find having to use the touch screen to operate the heated seats and steering wheel rather cumbersome and would prefer a normal button, but it’s easy enough to get accustomed to. The navigation system is great and is one of the few systems that seem to provide reliable traffic data in Toronto. One issue though is that unlike some competitors’ systems, certain functions are always locked out while the car is moving.
With all this luxury and the coveted 300C designation, you might be expecting to find a big V8 under the hood, but you’d be wrong. While the 5.7L V8 is still available, the standard engine for the 300C is now the 3.6L Pentastar V6 pushing out a respectable 292hp and mated to an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. I am a fan of the new V6 for its smooth power and surprising efficiency. The 8-speed keeps the rpms right in that sweet spot so it doesn’t feel like the V6 is struggling to move the mammoth sedan around, yet still managing impressive fuel economy numbers. In my rush hour commute I saw an average of 10.2L/100km, which is a couple points better than I got out of the Chevrolet Impala, and most recently the Kia Cadenza. So as much as I’d love to say you need the V8, the truth is you really don’t. V6s have come a long way and the Pentastar puts many V8s to shame.
On the road the 300C proves itself a perfect highway cruiser. Even equipped with with winter tires, I couldn’t pick up any road noise on the highway and only a slight amount of wind noise. The suspension is clearly tuned for ride quality as oppose to sharp handling and cruising along the highway at 110km/h, enjoying the quite confines of the 300C is a truly relaxing experience. Off the highway is where the weak points of the 300C’s driving dynamics start to show their colors. The car seems to take any steering input made through the numb steering wheel as merely a suggested direction, making spirited cornering a little dicey.
After spending the last few weeks driving family SUVs it was a pleasant change to come back into a car and it got me wondering why you almost never see families in proper family cars anymore. It seems that the modern family has completely abandoned the car in favor of SUVs and minivans, leaving these much more exciting, distinctive and efficient full-size sedans relegated to the commuter, fleet and retiree markets. I’d argue that these families are missing out on something well worth considering; the 300C is easily capable of comfortably hauling 4 full sized adults and enough gear in the massive trunk for a weekend away. Additionally, the AWD system provides the traction and security that many families seek out in SUVs and most of all, it’s much more enjoyable to drive, and be seen driving!
While I think I’d have a very difficult time choosing between the 300C and the new Impala as my favorite in the category, the 300C has one very clear advantage and that is the fact that it continues to offer both RWD and AWD configurations. That said, if there is one car today that most closely represents what the American full-size sedan has evolved to, the Chrysler 300 certainly holds that spot, and that’s what I believe ultimately makes it a modern classic.
2014 Chrysler 300C AWD Gallery