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My last run in with the Chrysler 300 left me hugely impressed at just how far the company had come since the early-2000’s. Back then, the marque as a whole, didn’t so much put out cars as it put out things that would inevitably rust into pieces.
My wife’s Chrysler Sebring trunk literally fell apart in my hands. That said, everything about the new 300 showed Chrysler was making a concerted effort in attempting to build a great car. Finally.
The seats were nice and comfortable, the doors shut with a very Teutonic thud, and all the controls and surfaces felt well made. Chrysler had gone from laughable, to a serious luxury competitor in only a few years.
For 2015, Chrysler has once again re-imagined the 300 just in time for its 60th anniversary. And it’s safe to say that that upward trend has not just been maintained, but improved. Last week, I got the chance to take the new Chrysler 300S for a quick little joy ride around Chicago, and it is definitely worthy of being Chrysler’s top dog.
Stepping into the new 300S is like stepping into a comfortable battleship. While the interior and exterior are all new, the size of this car hasn’t been revised in quite some time, and throws you a little off guard. Seriously, the 300 platform is huge. Thankfully, though, the interior is nowhere near as spartan as an aircraft carrier, or what the 300 once was even five years ago. Everything is nice and plush, just like it should be. Maybe not Range Rover quality, but definitely near Audi type luxury.
Being the car I drove was the 300S, it had a 5.7-liter V8, and seats were a bit, dare I say, sportier. Chrysler did an excellent job with the lumbar supports — it actually holds you in place when you turn it hard.
But one of the problems I’ve always had with Chrysler seats is where you actually sit. The lower half is always angled too far forward so that I feel like I’m sliding out of it. I’ve adjusted the seats every which way to alleviate the problem, but no matter what, I always encounter this problem. This car is no different. And when you’re trying to wrangle a V8-powered sedan, you want your seat to inspire confidence and not the worry of potentially sliding out if you step on the brakes a bit hard.
However, where Chrysler really did a superb job was in the gauges and infotainment unit. Each of them are nice and big making for easy reading while rolling down the road. The center gauges are high quality and bright with a blue tint that makes them feel decidedly upscale.
The UConnect system has got even better with every iteration, and this car’s infotainment system is no different. However, whereas much of the interior feels quite luxurious, there are some plastic-y areas that surround the dash and driver that don’t exactly match up with that luxury feel throughout the rest of the cabin. But it’s on the outside and under the hood that keep people coming back.
The Chrysler 300S is big, brash, and decidedly beautiful. Upping the ante from the base 300, the S spec looks much sharper. That includes a different front and rear fascia, new side skirts, and aggressive rims that set the car off perfectly. It exudes a mafia style menace that you really can’t get from any of the Germans at the moment. It’s a perfect exterior that matches the soul of this car. Though, it’s the addition of that wonderful 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that makes this car a complete home run.
Where the previous Pentastar V6 lacked a little character, the V8 is a whole different animal. It sets off the car perfectly. Between the gravelly baritone that comes out of the exhaust, and the straight-line pickup when you plant your foot to the floor, it makes for a much better experience. And while this is supposed to be a much more elegant V8 sedan, put your foot down at a complete stop and the tires will light up without much notice.
The new Chrysler 300S is still very much a product of the old American engineering. It’s big, a bit too much “look at me,” and hugely comfortable. But as Chrysler continues to strive for greatness, the car has gone from something that makes for an OK rental to something that is definitely worth considering when looking for a proper sedan. The overall size of the car doesn’t matter, or the fact that it still uses that heavy lump of a V8. It perfectly bridges the gap between the old and new and does so with a sense of purpose and grace.
Engine: 5.7L V8
Horsepower: 363 horsepower
Torque: 394 lb-ft of torque
Price: starts at $34,895
Roomy and comfortable
V8 power that makes you giggle
Definitely comparable to Audi
Seats aren’t super supportive
Still the size of a battleship
Chrysler still cut corners in certain areas