Chrysler 300S defines modern American iron …
Looking for the modern definition of American iron?
Search no further than Chrysler’s 300 full-size luxury sedan. It is handsome, strong-jawed American iron with an attitude and the horsepower to kick the you-know-what out of any other large sedan, and that’s just in its basic trim.
I drove the Chrysler 300S, the sporty version of what would surely be The Dude’s favorite car. The S upgrades the already muscular 292-horse V6 in the Touring model with a 300-horse V6, sportier suspension and improved looks. As if that weren’t enough, my NASCAR wannabe torqued that up a couple notches with a throbbing 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that muscles out 363 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque.
Need it or not, that rumble and that rear-wheel spinning power is impressive and more than a bit exciting to drive. Know that its cousin, the Dodge Charger has similar power and dynamics. A silky and well-suited 8-speed automatic transmission makes great use of the power, but maintains a luxury feel of smoothness.
I guided this missile from Milwaukee to Toledo, Ohio, and back and there aren’t many other highway cruisers I’d want to be aboard, excepting a few that cost over the near $50 grand of the Chrysler 300S. More on that in a bit.
The ride is sublime, yet somehow a tad sporty due to Chrysler’s sport suspension and some wide rubber R20 performance tires. Traction was good and I had ample opportunity to test that in monsoon-like rain along the Indiana Toll Road.
Handling is firm and sporty too in the S. Can’t speak to the Touring or other three trim levels as it has been a while since I wheeled those models. But in the 300S there was good turn-in at corners and a real ease of driving on the freeway. While the car’s 4,267 lbs. is more noticeable in city driving. The wheel still is fairly responsive, but the car’s heft is more apparent, especially when stopping and starting.
There are four-wheel disc performance brakes here too, so getting the beast to whoa isn’t tough, but you’ll feel the full-bodied car’s weight.
The boxy 300 with its well-balanced looks and big snooty grille is more than just looks and power, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The 300S delivers a fine interior too.
My bright (Ocean) blue Chrysler came with a spacious black over white leather interior, the white being the seats (with a black S embroidered on their backs) and inserts in the doors. But the 300’s seat butt pockets are mighty tight for such a large car.
Still, it all looks great with gloss black trim on the center stack and console and around the air vents. Satin chrome makes up the rest of the trim, the door handles, and rotary gear shifter. Door armrests and the center storage box/armrest match the white seats.
Dash layout is good too with knobs and dials that are easy to reach, use and understand. Plus the S’s 26G package adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen, up from the 7-inch standard screen.
Chrysler continues to offer its excellent Uconnect infotainment system on the touchscreen too. If only all such systems were this intuitive and easy to use. Also part of that $3,495 package is the sport suspension, Sirius radio apps and a panoramic sunroof in the 300’s big roof.
Add to that a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, which is so much easier to get into a good driving position than a manual unit.
The test car also added a snazzy Beats audio system with monster amp and 10 speakers. It sounds great and runs you $995 extra.
There’s also a SafetyTec Plus group that adds most of the expected electronic safety devices. For $1,695 extra you get a front-end collision warning system, smart cruise control and lane departure warning. And yes, the later can be switched off. This one also corrects your car’s aim if it senses a lane marker. The safety package also adds rain-sensing wipers (used those a lot), advanced brake assist and automatic high beam headlights.
Being a full-size car there’s plenty of room for five adults here and a big ol’ trunk in back, plus the rear seats fold to allow several additional bodies, er, suitcases in back and maybe a couple longer items too, like golf clubs or skis.
Gas mileage was so-so, although still better than any large SUV. I got between 20.8 and 22.3 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving. The lower figure including a smidge more city street time. The EPA rates this at 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
If gas mileage is a concern opt for the Touring model’s standard 3.6-liter V6 that’s rated 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Going with the entry-level Touring model saves you some money too. It lists at about $32,000 while the test car’s sticker starts at $37,640, including delivery. A top-level 300C lists about $42,000 and adding AWD to any of the available trim levels costs $2,500 extra. Still, that’s a great feature for our climate, and not all large sedans offer AWD. The Charger, Ford Taurus, and Buick LaCrosse do.
The test car’s S Premium group 2 package included that power steering wheel, adaptive HID headlights, ParkSense, memory seats, blind-spot and cross-traffic detection, heated steering wheel and second row seats, heated and cooled front seats and a power rear sunshade, among other niceties. The cost is $1,895.
Loaded up with all these goodies moved the 300S into the luxury sedan price category. It’s a great-looking and pleasant car and all the amenities work well. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the $48,815 price tag the test car carried. I feel that’s pricey for a Chrysler that has been around in this design, albeit sharp, for many years.
As American automakers scale back the car models they offer though, it may be time to latch on to a 300 while you still can. That’s especially true if full-size American iron infused with personality and power is what you crave.
FAST STATS: 2018 Chrysler 300S
Hits: Handsome American iron with power and luxury highway ride. Big car with roomy interior and trunk, good handling, but sunroof, power tilt/telescope wheel, excellent Uconnect infotainment system, well laid out dash knobs and buttons plus full array of safety equipment.
Misses: When well-equipped it’s pricey for a Chrysler that has been around for years. Front seat butt pockets are narrow.
Made in: Brampton, Ontario
Engine: 5.7-liter, HEMI V8, 363 horsepower
Transmission: 8-speed manual
Weight: 4,267 lbs.
Length: 198.6 in.
Wheelbase: 120.2 in.
Cargo: 16.3 cu. ft.
MPG: 20.8-22.3 (tested)
Base Price: $37,640 (includes delivery)
S Package 26G (performance suspension Uconnect w/8.4-inch screen, panoramic sunroof, Sirius Travel and Traffic Plus), $3,495
5.7-liter V8 HEMI, w/rear spoiler, LED fog lights, 4-wheel disc performance brakes, S model appearance package, body color fascias), $3,000
Beats audio system w/10 speakers & 552-watt amp, $995
S Premium group 2 (adaptive HID headlights, power tilt/telescope wheel, ParkSense, memory seats, blind-spot/cross-traffic detection, power rear sunshade, heated wheel/second row seats, auto-dimming mirror, LED lights lower door, exterior mirror w/courtesy lights & turn signals, auto. adjust mirrors/reverse, heated/cooled front seats, trunk mat, scuff plates, auto. headlight leveling), $1,895
SafetyTec Plus group (front collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rain-sensing wipers, advanced brake assist, auto. high beams), $1,695
R20 performance tires, $95
Test vehicle: $48,815
Sources: Chrysler, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage ;\lsdpriori