Chrysler is in a position that most journalists and consumers had not anticipated 10-15 years ago.
In the case of the 2020 Chrysler 300S Limited here, this car carries a torch to a segment that has all but been abandoned by its American competitors. Looking at the websites of Ford and General Motors in search of full sized sedans, nothing is. If you are looking for a pickup or SUV, you literally have any pick of the litter. Though Chrysler and its brands are also moving in this direction, they still offer the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 available for those looking for a full sized sedan.
Better yet, buyers still have the option of moving up from the V6 to a good old fashioned V8. In a world stuffed with turbochargers, getting a naturally aspirated V6 or V8 is a genuine treat, so let’s enjoy them while we still can. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 on board of our 300 pulls strongly and is very smooth in day to day operation. This V6 is a good old fashioned American engine used throughout the Chrysler family lineup. Matched to the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic, drivers looking for a relaxing, fuss-free drive will be very happy.
That said, those looking to jump ahead of a Toyota Camry V6 (reviewed here) may need to rethink that action and remind themselves that the 300S AWD comes in around 4,267-pounds and comes with a 0-100km/h time of around 6.5 seconds. The Pentastar comes in with 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Those who want extra grunt and are willing to forego the all-wheel-drive can opt for the desirable 5.7-liter HEMI V8. This model was also equipped with all-wheel-drive, a rear-biased system that that spins the rear wheels during normal driving conditions but when slippage is detected, sends power to the front axle.
Chrysler has the 300 running on an updated LX platform that had been introduced back into 2004, so expect a more dated, traditional large sedan ride. Handling and responsiveness is not what the 300 is all about, even with the all-wheel-drive system optioned here, but body roll is surprisingly well controlled. Absorbing large potholes in and around Toronto is what this car does best; coming out of a 2020 Mazda MX5 and jumping into the 300 was much better on my old man back. If you want to be coddled on your daily commute, this is a great option.
Looks-wise, the 300 has evolved from its heyday with the overly large front grill yet retained the basic styling cues such as the slab-sided design and boxed-off roof line. It’s a more dated look than say, the Genesis G80 (reviewed here). As the 300 has aged, it no longer gets the attention it commanded when it first arrived to market 16 years ago – it’s hard to believe that much time has passed.
Unfortunately, the interior has not aged as well. Looking at it in photos, it appears clean and well thought-out. In person however, it becomes evident that the 300 is aging. Material fit and finish is not up to the premium name the car has made for itself. To put it into perspective, the new Mazda3 (reviewed here) has better quality. The gauges remain traditionally analog with a small TFT screen for additional information. The 8.4-inch touch screen infotainment system looks tiny in this full sized sedan, but thankfully the Uconnect interface works well as ever with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Driver aids and safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control are all optional in the 300S, which is a huge mistake in 2020. The majority of other automakers offer an active safety suite as standard equipment, often in vehicles with half the price of the 300. If Chrysler wants to do their part in keeping this segment alive, the packaging strategy needs to change a bit.
The great thing about large sedans is the spaciousness for the driver and passengers. Occupants will be able to take long drives in comfort as the 300 can easily seat four adults with ease. Leg and headroom are cavernous. Putting a fifth occupant in the rear is possible, however the floor hump between the two rear seats will make the journey uncomfortable for said individual. As expected, trunk space is massive with 462-liters of capacity.
My fuel economy during the week in mostly city driving (80%) and with air conditioning at full blast was a very reasonable 10.8L/100km, which is slightly better than Chrysler’s suggested average of 11.0L/100km. This isn’t bad by any means for a four-thousand pound sedan with all-wheel-drive and a V6. Another saving grace is that the 70-liter fuel tank is perfectly happy on 87-octane regular fuel.
A base Chrysler 300 has a starting price of $40,171, though the higher equipped 300 Limited starts at $43,368 with all-wheel-drive. Add the various packages on our tester here, and you are shelling out around $55,000 before taxes and fees. The Chrysler 300 may be the most luxurious car in its segment but at this price point, you are into luxury car territory and need to make some serious decisions on what you truly want.
Alternatives to the Chrysler 300 in this segment are few and far between. If you want to stay within the FCA brand, your alternative option is the Dodge Charger (reviewed here). Those wanting to stay American will have to move up to the Lincoln Continental (reviewed here) or Cadillac CT5 or CT6. Otherwise, for similar amounts of space, options include the Toyota Avalon or Nissan Maxima, both of which also offer similarly powerful V6 engines though only get front-drive setups.
The 2020 Chrysler 300S Limited is a hard sell today in a market that has quickly moved to SUVs and crossovers. It’s on a dated platform that stretches back to Chrysler’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz. The engines are naturally aspirated in nature, which isn’t a bad thing, however interior quality isn’t up to par for this price point. Even still, it’s an exceptionally comfortable vehicle that will handle the daily commute with ease year-round. Sometimes, that’s all buyers are looking for.