Family Sedan Rocks New Design
Congratulations are in order for the Chrysler 300 for a variety of reasons. First, it’s survived in a fiercely competitive mid-priced full-size sedan market. Second, it’s stopped with its Bentley-Cover-Band thing that reached its nadir in 2011, when passerby would flip out thinking a supercar was in the house, only to be disappointed after drawing closer and realizing the 300 A) wasn’t British and B) wasn’t worth upwards of $250,000. The third congrats is because this is the hottest version of the 300 in at least the last ten years and it’s taken its rightful place where it belongs – as a stylish, caffeineated, not-too-expensive American ride.
There are four 300 trims in total; the 300 limited, 300S, 300C and my tester, the 300C platinum.My test was shorter than what I’m used to when punishing new cars, but both the Platinum and the 300S were comfy, plush spins. The one I preferred was the most expensive, as you might expect, as it featured quilted Nappa leather, hand-sanded wood, ultra-premium Poltrona Frau leather-wrapped instrument panel and console, plus platinum-chrome exterior details and 20-inch wheels. I climbed into the driver’s seat and instantly knew the ride would never be mistaken for any other brand whether American or European. There was a lot to take in in a short period of time, but it was all sweet, from the all-new interior design elements including a standard 7-inch full-color driver information display (DID) the electronic rotary transmission shifter, and the three-spoke steering wheel with larger vehicle controls and available die-cast paddle shifters.
So many American cars are bland, plastic, same-same and uninspiring, but my partner and I were pleasantly, happily immersed in an upscalish blend of hand-sculpted fluid shapes, high-quality and innovative material choices, precision craftsmanship instead of the usual, painful slap-it-together American thing, state-of-the-art technology and thoughtful, dare-I-say clever features. The 300C obeyed instantly when smashing the accelerator via a Class-exclusive TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission – now standard on every model – balancing V-8 performance with an impressive 31 mpg combined highway/city driving. It hugged the winding roads with aplomb and never lagged nor groaned nor felt bulky or clumsy. “Cheerio” is out; “WTG, dude!” is in, and there’s no need for a bumper sticker reading “My other car is German.”