At this point, I think it’s pretty well known that I appreciate a big, soft, luxurious sedan. There’s something about a low rumbling V8, miles of rich leather, a silent and soft ride and the elegant good looks of a well put together full-sized luxury sedan. I am generally a little partial to Cadillacs, and following my test last year of a Chrysler 300C, even with the 3.6L V6, it has earned its place as a favorite of mine. I was all the more eager to try out a brand new 2015 Chrysler 300C this time that is much more equipped to my tastes, namely rear-wheel drive and with Chrysler’s famous HEMI V8.
Firstly, Chrysler has made a few visual tweaks to the car for 2015. Both front and rear fascias have been revised, with the front taking on an even more aggressive lower grill. The taillights have also been revised and somehow look a little too plain to me. Taillights aside, I still maintain that the 300C is one of the best looking sedans on the road. It has enough of a presence that it doesn’t blend in with common traffic, yet it’s reserved enough that it doesn’t draw unwanted attention. My test car rolls on gorgeous polished 20” rims wrapped in Firestone Firehawks. These are costly to replace I’m sure, but they really set off the looks of this car. It also means that winter tires would be a must as the combination of performance tires, rear-wheel drive and winter conditions typically doesn’t end well.
Sitting right at the top of the range, my 300C Platinum is safely the most luxury you’re going to find at this price point. With a base price of $43,595, the Platinum is decked out with incredible quilted Nappa-leather seats, quilted leather door panels, a leather wrapped dashboard, a massive panoramic roof, ventilated front seats, heated seats all the way around, a heated steering wheel and even heated and cooled cup holders. My test car included a handful of options to round out the set, such as bi-xenon HID headlamps, a very impressive 900-Watt Harman/Kardon sound system, navigation and of course the all-mighty 5.7L HEMI, bringing the total as tested price to just shy of $50,000. Look around and I promise you won’t find a feature set like this anywhere else in a full-sized sedan for under $50,000. It almost feels wrong saying it, but that makes the 300C the real value option.
Now, what really separates the 300C from just another sedan with a boat-load of gadgets crammed in is the fact they are all expertly executed. From the 8.4” touchscreen UConnect system powering Chrysler’s exceptional navigation system, to the clear and easy to use climate controls, I quickly found myself at home in the 300C. The interior looks and feels top-notch, but is also perfectly functional as well. Rear head and legroom are superb; there is plenty of storage up front and every seat in the 300C is extremely comfortable. Attention to detail inside the 300C isn’t exactly German levels of obsession, but all the soft leather and beautiful stitching in the Platinum trim level do distract from the handful of plastics used.
The heart of the beast is the 5.7L HEMI V8. This is an engine that the engineers at Chrysler have been perfecting for years, and in my humble opinion, is one of the best all-around V8s out there. I’ve loved this engine in the Ram trucks, and I love the tweaked 363-horsepower version in the 300C as well. The biggest reason for my infatuation with the HEMI is just how sharp the throttle response is across the rpm range. Whether you’re taking off from a light or passing at highway speeds, the V8’s thrust is almost instant when you put your foot down. The V8 is capable of propelling the bulky car at a striking rate when asked, yet remains very quiet and very smooth until awakened. Giving some consideration to efficiency, I made use of the Fuel Saver MDS cylinder deactivation feature and was able to achieve really impressive highway fuel economy, with numbers down 9L/100km. That’s ideal for the many full-size buyers who spend a lot of time on the highway. In the city, the V8’s performance is less impressive and I ended the week with a respectable 11.8L/100km average.
The thing with a HEMI in a 300C is that the car is capable of very quickly reaching highway speeds. While competent for cruising, steering in the 300C lacks road feel in a big way, which inhibits it from inspiring confidence when it comes to spirited driving. The Touring suspension equipped on the Platinum trim level does an excellent job of absorbing high speed bumps and keeps passengers in the utmost of comfort on the highways, but it’s certainly not set up for corner carving. In the city, I feel like the massive rims on the 300C make their presence known, as I detected a little more harshness than I would expect through low speed bumps.
So, is opting for a big powerful V8 in a soft cruiser like the 300C a good idea? Well, it would have been the norm just a couple of decades ago, and knowing that makes me appreciate what this car is. It is one of the very last of its kind- an affordable V8 full-sized luxury car, and done right too. The same car can also be had with the trusty 3.6L Pentastar V6, which still has more than enough power and great fuel savings. It can also be had with a nice set of 18” rims and AWD that’ll get you through winter’s worst. Equip it however you like and the 300C is still a great car; but for me, nothing can replace the gurgle of that V8 starting up in the morning or its instant on-demand power. What better way to put that power to the ground than through the two rear wheels– the way it was meant to be.
Shortly after reluctantly dropping off my 300C test car, I was sitting in early morning traffic on the Allen Expressway in Toronto in my 30-year old Trans Am. As traffic crept by me on the right, a mid 1980s Chevy Caprice pulled up alongside me. It wasn’t perfect but it was obvious that to the old man behind the wheel, that car was his pride and joy when he bought it 30 years ago and it still is today. He smiled at me and carried on, but I couldn’t help but think back to the 300C. It is one of the few new cars I could buy today, and I am confident I’d still enjoy 30 years from now.
2015 Chrysler 300C Gallery