2020 Chrysler 300

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Byron Hurd Byron Hurd Contributor
October 3, 2019

Buying tip

The V-6 might get the job done, but the 300’s party piece is its throaty, satisfying V-8. If you ask us, don’t settle.

If it’s a certain retro appeal you’re after in a four-door sedan, few vehicles can compete with the moderately priced 2020 Chrysler 300.

The 2020 Chrysler 300 is a testament to dedication. Not only because it’s a full-size sedan available as a new car, but also because the 300’s bones date far back to the last decade.

The 2020 300 is sold with either a V-6 or a V-8, and while the 6-cylinder may be down on power compared to the V-8, the V-6 can be a pleasant cruiser if properly equipped.Back for its 15th model year (relatively ancient among new cars), the 300 is the sophisticated, Savile Row alternative to the Armani-clad Dodge Charger with which it shares the vast majority of its mechanical componentry.

We rate the 2020 Chrysler 300 a 5.7 out of 10, which is probably generous, but we dish out honesty where we see it returned, and the 300 is a sedan that doesn’t put on airs. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Despite its early Bentley-on-a-budget reputation, the 300 is a solid car that has earned its keep. The 300 is offered in Touring, Touring L, Limited, 300S and 300C trims. It relies on classic lines and big-body proportions to sell an understated, high-class look despite its relatively humble mission.

The cabin is dark and rubbery if you neglect to climb its trim ladder, but well equipped models boast high-quality materials such as leather and open-pore wood. In some cases, the 300 can pull off the luxury look better than premium nameplates costing half-again as much.

In the lower trims, the standard V-6 does a thoroughly adequate job of powering the 300 down the highway or through the after-school pick-up line, but the better way to build a 300 is with the 363-horsepower V-8, which transforms it from your Uber ride home into something that would be just as suited to a rip down the autobahn.

The 300 manages to deliver competent rear-wheel-drive dynamics despite its comfort-tuned suspension and noticeable body roll. We mentioned before that the 300 is honest, and that shows in its dearth of advanced driving aids and nannies, but that has its downsides in terms of safety.

Fortunately, its fundamentals are sound, and the 300 offers them in spades. All-wheel drive delivers year-round confidence, and comfort features such as wireless device charging, heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel solidify its value proposition.

Sadly, the 300 suffers in terms of crash avoidance and safety thanks to an archaic platform and up-charges for safety equipment that is creeping down to the standard-equipment level in other lineups, such as automatic emergency braking.Stubbornness is often rewarded, however, and the Chrysler’s refusal to re-engineer the 2020 300 warms our hearts.

It remains a steadfast alternative to the everyday, front-wheel drive sedans we’re told will do the job more efficiently and unobtrusively.

7

2020 Chrysler 300

Styling

The 2020 Chrysler 300 may be an old soul, but it still looks fresh. This sedan may go down as one of Chrysler’s true timeless classics, which is high praise.

It’s easy to look at older designs and dismiss them as also-rans. That is, until you take a look at the 2020 Chrysler 300. Despite celebrating its 15th birthday, Chrysler’s big sedan still manages to look elegant, sculpted and luxurious, without offering the pretension of more-expensive brands.

That’s why the 2020 Chrysler 300 still scores a 7 in the styling department. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Like Helen Mirren or George Clooney, the 300 ages with unmatched grace and dignity. It hasn’t managed to put a foot wrong in 15 years, and we don’t suspect that will change any time soon.

Up front, the 300 wears an understated grille surrounded by a bumper that bears little in the way of exaggerated sculpting or “look at me” elements. Some trims pick up a few superfluous trim pieces, but all-in-all, it’s good news here.

The slab-sided flanks are lightly contoured and accented by 20-inch wheels that fit the 300’s wells superbly. These themes continue inside, where the materials (above the base level, anyway) seem to punch slightly above the 300’s price range, making us wonder why some competitors insist on charging thousands more for cars with lackluster cabin treatments.

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2020 Chrysler 300

Performance

The 300 once dabbled in more raucous territory, but has matured into a sophisticated touring sedan.

The 2020 Chrysler 300 straddles the line between luxury limousine and retro family sedan. While its age may call into question whether it’s retro-chic or just plain old, we can’t help but be charmed by its execution. Whether you need six or eight cylinders, rear- or all-wheel drive, the 300 has you covered in style.

Unfortunately, while Chrysler has been content to let the 300 age gracefully, the competition has come nipping at its heels. The new Kia Stinger and Genesis G80 are encroaching on the 300’s territory. We’re still comfortable rating the 300 a 6 for performance, but we’re skeptical that it will hold out much longer. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Most 300 models leave the factory with a 292-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. This is tuned for another 8 horsepower in 300S models with a little help from a revised intake and exhaust. The 3.6-liter V-6 offers adequate acceleration and enough power for highway merges and overtaking. Part of the credit goes to Chrysler’s 8-speed automatic transmission. Found in every 300, it offers an impeccable blend of crisp response and smooth operation.

If you skipped the above paragraph to look for something a little more gnarly, we’ve got you covered. The 5.7-liter V-8 is the engine to get here. Thanks to its 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, this proven engine does the job we expect when slipping behind the wheel of this American sedan.

As an added bonus, when you check the option box for the V-8, you get paddle shifters for more precise control of the 300’s transmission. Push either engine, however, and you’ll quickly find the 300’s dynamic limitations. It’s built for comfort, not for speed, and despite its straight-line competence, it’s no corner-carver, especially on the base 17-inch wheels. Tall sidewalls and soft suspension make for ample body roll. It’s not obtrusive, and the 300 won’t get away from you on the highway unless you really try, but don’t mistake this for a German super sedan. It’s a cruiser, not a bruiser.

If you absolutely need a little more edge, the 300S does offer a sportier suspension tune at the expense of some ride quality. It also boasts summer-spec performance tires and, on V-8 models at least, thicker anti-roll bars. It’s still not an alternative to one of Detroit’s smaller muscle coupes, but it’ll hang with just about everything else the mainstream manufacturers have to offer.

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7

2020 Chrysler 300

Comfort & Quality

The 300 aims high and delivers, even if its base models leave something to be desired.

The 2020 Chrysler 300 still coddles and comforts despite its age, and even manages to impress when it comes to cargo room even if its rear seat leaves a bit to be desired.

There aren’t many large sedans left, and for being one of them, we have to give the 300 credit. We rate the 300 a 7 for comfort, despite a disappointingly tight rear seat considering its overall size. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Up front, the 300 comfortably seats human beings of American proportion. The back seat is OK, but lacks a bit in knee and head room for a car this large. We suspect this deficiency is largely due to the 300’s age. Modern packaging could likely resolve this issue.

Storage is a strong suit of the 300. It boasts deep door pockets, a storage cubby ahead of the rotary gear selector and large (Say it with us, “American-sized”) cup holders. The trunk’s 16.3-cubic-foot volume is on the impressive side too. Golf bags? Go nuts. Bring your father-in-law, too.

Where the 300 really shines is at the top of the lineup, where its seats are upholstered in supple leather and open-pore wood and stitched leather adorn the dash. The 300C impresses in this regard, as it should as the 300’s range-topping trim.

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2020 Chrysler 300

Safety

Safety is not the 300’s game. While it has adequate safety systems, its crash structure is simply too old to compete in this category.

The 2020 Chrysler 300’s age may be charming to enthusiasts, but it’s a salient negative when it comes to crash-test scores.

This is by far the 300’s weakest category, and we can’t even make excuses for it. Old is old, and the engineering of crash safety is an ever-evolving process. Newer is simply better. The 300 rates a 3 on our scale in this category. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

NHTSA isn’t particularly unkind to the 300, but a four-star overall score is not impressive. Most new cars fare better. The IIHS likewise rates it “Good” in most of its tests, with a few notable (and, unfortunately, critical) exceptions. It scored only “Marginal” in the small overlap, which is one of the categories where newer vehicle architectures score far better.

Tech-wise, there are some highlights. The 300 can be equipped with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors but those require shelling out extra cash. This costs the 300 some points in our ranking system.

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2020 Chrysler 300

Features

The 2020 Chrysler 300 may be old, but like a ritzy downtown hotel, it makes up for it with top-notch appointments.

Chrysler has kept the 300’s trim offerings fairly consistent in recent years, with only minor tweaks here and there to keep the value where it matters most. For 2020, it is still offered in Touring, Touring L, 300S, 300 Limited, and 300C.

We’re willing to hand the 300 a 7 for its feature content. While it may lack in safety and driving aid systems, Chrysler has bestowed it with robust comfort and convenience features wherever possible. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Touring models get standard power front seats, cloth upholstery, and 17-inch wheels. The base infotainment system is powered by an 8.4-inch touchscreen on the dash and embeds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and includes Bluetooth with audio streaming and USB ports.

The Touring L is the value proposition for 300 models. At this trim, you’re getting dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, a heated tilt/telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and 18-inch wheels. It’s the model we’d choose.

Once you hit the 300S, the V-8 becomes available and it’s a game-changer. Beyond that, you’re getting a sport suspension, summer performance tires, shift paddles, remote start and a nine-speaker Beats audio system.

The 300C is the pinnacle of the 300 lineup, offering leather and wood trim, quilted leather seating surfaces, cooled front seats, 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats and a moonroof. A leather-wrapped dash and a 900-watt Harman Kardon audio system can be added on if you’re feeling spendy.

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2020 Chrysler 300

Fuel Economy

The 300 is old-school where it counts, and where it hurts.

The 2020 Chrysler 300’s age catches up to it in the efficiency department the way it does in the safety category. While the V-6 and 8-speed automatic are relatively efficient considering their packaging, they simply aren’t setting the world on fire in terms of consumption.

We’re comfortable giving the 300 a 4 in this category, largely on the strength of the V-6, which perhaps says more about the V-8 than it does about the 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the V-6 Chrysler 300 at 19 mpg city, 30 highway, 23 combined. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 18/27/21 mpg. 

Opt for a V-8 and you’ll get more power and rear-wheel drive only. The EPA rates those versions at 16/25/19 mpg on mid-grade fuel.

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5.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 3
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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