- Matured styling that's still a standout
- Responsive eight-speed automatic
- Smooth, fuel-efficient V-6
- Upscale interior look and feel
- HEMI's muscle-car attitude
- Five-speed auto on HEMI models
- Ersatz Bentley Continental look is gone
- Dash plastics attract dust
The Chrysler 300 is loaded with comfort and technology features, and it comes as either a near-luxury sedan, or an monstrously powerful muscle car.
The 300 and 300C are largest sedans in the Chrysler lineup, and with a variety of drivetrains and available features, they make for compelling options in the segment. With a sleek exterior, competent performance even from the V-6 models, and a long roster of technology and luxury features, these sedans flirt with the edge of the luxury market–and in some cases, qualify as legitimate premium cars.
From the exterior, the 300 always seems to find an attractive blend of traditional, ornate and modern design. With one foot planted firmly in the past, the 2014 Chrysler 300 remains a swaggering hulk of sedan. A redesign in 2012 brought a level of subtlety to the 300's design–softer shoulders, smoother lines and a somewhat less cartoonish grille modernized the model. Inside, the look went decidedly upscale and high-tech, with soft lines wrapping upward to house the dash's new oversized LCD touchscreen. Depending on the trim level, chrome, carbon-fiber- or wood-look accents made the car feel either more luxurious, or more like a sports sedan.
Even the base 300 includes power windows, locks and mirrors; LED daytime running lights; pushbutton start and keyless entry; a power driver seat; cloth upholstery; dual-zone climate control; satellite radio; a USB port; and an 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen display. Step up to the 300S and you get leather front seats; shift paddles; piano black trim; and performance tires. Premium leather, natural wood trim, power-adjustable pedals, and a heated steering wheel all contribute to the top-lux feel of the 300C, which also includes navigation--and the Garmin-based touch-screen nav system includes real-time traffic info and was enhanced in 2013. On top of all their performance upgrades, SRTs get carbon-fiber trim; heated and ventilated front seats; and a layer of instrumentation in its navigation system that displays performance stats like acceleration times and lateral grip.
There's also a Beats by Dr. Dre premium audio system, offering a 12-channel amp, proprietary equalization, and trunk-mounted subwoofer. Also, a special Chrysler 300 Glacier model brings Gloss Black mirrors, Black Chrome grille blades, special eight-spoke Satin Carbon-finish aluminum wheels and special paint hues, along with Piano black interior finishes, special upholstery with leather-wrapped bolsters and French seams, and steering-wheel paddles with a Sport mode.
Base V-6 versions of the Chrysler 300 perform well enough to satisfy anyone who mainly looks to the 300 for its styling and luxury. The 292-horsepower version of the company's Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth, strong, and responsive with the eight-speed automatic that's included in most versions. Times to 60 mph land at around eight seconds, while highway fuel economy is up to 31 miles per gallon--extraordinary for a large sedan in this class. Also on the step-up 300S, the V-6 gets a cold-air intake and performance exhaust making it good for 300 hp.
For some, the real appeal for the 300 will be in the brash V-8 powertrains in the 300S and 300C, as well as the top-performance SRT. The 300S and 300C are offered with a 363-hp, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and a five-speed automatic. While the V-6 is smooth and luxury-car-like, the HEMI is more aggressive and muscle-car-like in sound and responsiveness. These models can get to 60 mph in less than six seconds, but the SRT can get there in less than five seconds with its 470-hp, 6.4-liter V-8. A NASCAR-like throb completes the sensory experience in the SRT.
The 300 doesn't drive or feel small at all, but it has a big-car charm without the usual body roll and mushy, pitchy body motions. As you might guess, 300 models move up the ladder from more comfort-oriented to firm and sport-sedan-like as you step up in engine performance. All models have an absorbent ride and responsive electrohydraulic steering, but as you move up to the 20-inch wheels in some of the models there's a bit more ride harshness. SRT models get an adaptive damping system with normal and sport modes, which helps.
You'll find the 300 to be one of the more spacious sedans in its class, even though it doesn't quite have the sprawl-out space of a Toyota Avalon. In front, the seats are well bolstered, and there's plenty of headroom even if you get the sunroof. Back seats tend to be a little tight on legroom, although they're comfortable enough for two adults. Trunk space is quite good, too. These current versions of the 300 don't feel quite as claustrophobic as the previous version, due to thinner pillars and a little more side glass, so visibility is a bit better, too.
Safety-wise, the 300 includes all the usual electronic controls and airbags; Hill Start Assist, Rain Brake Support, and Ready Alert Braking are also included. On higher trims, you can get a SafetyTec option package that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a forward-collision warning system, rear fog lamps, and power-folding exterior mirrors.