Things we like
- Standard equipment, comfort, unique design
Not so much
- Fuel use
What stands out?Looks, looks and looks. While the Chrysler 300’s Sopranos styling has been softened slightly over the years, it still registers a more intimidating street presence than just about any other sedan on the road. But it’s also a fairly straightforward proposition: think super-sized, four-door American with a focus on either luxury or V8 performance.
What might bug me?Finding room for your left foot when driving. The Chrysler’s parking brake is engaged using a third pedal in the footwell – rather than a traditional handbrake – and that extra pedal takes up valuable space.
How much of your pay packet goes into the fuel tank, especially if you’ve chosen a Chrysler 300 with a V8 engine. On the official government test, a 300 SRT or SRT Core drinks 20.5 litres/100km around town. That’s thirsty, even by V8 standards.
In a 300C Luxury, driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare wheel until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
In a V8-engined Chrysler 300, dealing with the tyre-repair kit. Neither the 300 SRT nor the SRT Core has a spare tyre of any sort.
What body styles are there?Four-door sedan only.
The Chrysler 300 drives its rear wheels, and is classed as an upper-large car, lower priced.
What features do all versions have?Cruise control, and dual-zone climate control (which allows the driver and front passenger to set temperatures independently). Power-adjustable front seats, and a driver’s seat that remembers your settings (which makes it easy to get comfortable after a companion has driven the car).
An 8.4-inch colour touchscreen for controlling cabin comfort, and for operating Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system (which will come with digital radio, AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control and at least six speakers).
A leather-wrapped steering wheel, with buttons for operating the cruise control and sound system, and for manipulating a colour digital information display that resides in the instrument binnacle between the speedo and tacho.
Proximity-key entry and start, which allows you to unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag.
Very bright, bi-Xenon headlamps that switch on automatically when it’s getting dark, and that also shine into corners when you turn the wheel. Clever.
Daytime running lights (which help other drivers see you), and very long-lived LED taillights.
Wheels made from aluminium alloy, which are usually lighter and look nicer than the traditional steel wheels with plastic covers. A tyre pressure monitor, which tells you if a tyre is going flat (this could give you more time to get a slow puncture seen to).
A reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors. Seven airbags. (For airbag placement, or for more on Chrysler 300 safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)
Electronic stability control, which can help you avoid or control a skid (every new car must have this feature).
The list of common features is limited by the SRT Core, a stripped-down version of the 300 SRT that allows muscle-car fans to order the most powerful – and expensive – of the two engines offered, the V8, but without paying for much luxury to go with it.
In any 300 except the cloth-trim Core you get heated leather seating for front and rear passengers, with both front seats also ventilated. (Power adjustment remains at the front, as does the driver-seat memory.) Satellite navigation will be available from the touchscreen, with turn-by-turn navigation instructions displayed on the instrument-binnacle.
Every Chrysler 300 comes with a three-year, 100,000km warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?The 300 offers you a choice from two petrol engines: a 3.6-litre V6 or a much bigger, 6.4-litre V8.
There are no prizes for guessing which engine is more fuel-efficient. It’s the V6, and it consumes 9.4 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).
For just about any sort of driving, this engine – supplied in 300C Luxury – gives you as much power and response as you are likely to need. '
Why might you not choose it? Because you don’t make friends with fuel economy. The big V8 in the 300 SRT and SRT Core offers a life-affirming wallop of old-fashioned power – enough to propel you from rest to 100km/h in about 4.5 seconds. That’s sports-car quick, and the thundering exhaust provides a raucous soundtrack to boot.
On the official test, the V8 consumes 13 litres/100km when its city and country cycles are combined. However, that’s blown out by its behaviour around town, where it drinks like it’s on shore leave.
In steady cruising on the open road, where you are not using much of that V8 performance, fuel use will be much closer to what you could expect from the V6 – helped by clever engine management that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when they’re not needed.
Every Chrysler 300 comes with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox.
What key features do I get if I spend more?The least costly Chrysler 300 is called the 300C Luxury. It comes with the V6 engine, 20-inch wheels, and the features found on every 300 (except the SRT Core), including the leather trim and the sat-nav. As a bonus, its wood-and-leather steering wheel is heated, its front cupholders can be heated or cooled, and its Alpine sound system has nine speakers – one of which is a subwoofer that boosts bass response.
Its interior trimmed in a soft (Nappa) leather. You also get slightly wider, lower-profile tyres mounted on 20-inch wheels, which are mainly there for their racier looks. Paddle gear-shifters on the steering wheel help squeeze some more fun out of the V6 engine. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains.
A 300C Luxury also brings you an extensive active safety suite, which includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and a cross-path-detection system that helps you avoid reversing into passing vehicles. (For more on these systems, please open the Safety section below.)
Spend significantly more on an SRT Core and you can have the much more potent V8 engine described above. You also get a meaner look, courtesy of a lower ride height, blacked-out grille, a boot-lid spoiler, and look-at me performance components such as red or black Brembo brake calipers. Wheels and tyres are the same size but the ride is firmer, for more responsive handling. You can adjust how urgently the car responds to the accelerator pedal and (flat-bottomed) steering wheel, by choosing from Default, Sport and Track driving modes. And a limited-slip differential directs that V8 grunt into propelling the car rather than spinning just one rear wheel.
The Core targets those who want a raw, no-frills V8 experience, and so it does away with the leather upholstery, the sat-nav, and the active safety suite.
Spring for the most expensive 300, the SRT, and you get all that back, while keeping the V8 engine and the Core’s sporty features. You also get a driver-adjustable suspension that adapts automatically to different driving conditions, carbon-fibre highlights in the cabin, and a killer Harman Kardon 19-speaker stereo.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Only when you jump from a V6 to a V8, where you will trade some ride comfort and cabin peace for firmer suspension, an occasionally invasive exhaust note and an eye-watering fuel bill.
Choosing a V8 also means you don’t get even a space-saver spare wheel, and must do your best with the repair kit if a tyre deflates rapidly.
How comfortable is the Chrysler 300?In a word? Very. This car was produced in a land where the Snuggy is considered reasonable evening attire. Even the least costly 300, the 300C Luxury, is a well-equipped and comfortable cruiser. The power delivery from the V6 is plentiful and the eight-speed transmission is well matched to the engine, offering smooth shifts.
Inside, the seats are American-spec soft and spacious, and the cupholders predictably upsized. Sound-muffling acoustic glass keeps the cabin quiet on all but the worst of road surfaces.
Both SRT variants – even the stripped-back Core version – offer similar levels of luxe, but expect less comfort in the seats, less compliance in the suspension and more noise in the cabin as a result of their sporty intentions.
There’s a tank-like sense of security that comes from driving a car this size. But with it comes uneasiness on tight city streets, given the 300 so comprehensively fills its lane. That said, you get used to its bulk quickly. The reversing camera helps negate the poor rear visibility.
What about safety in Chrysler 300?Every Chrysler 300 has seven airbags, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto-on headlights, and the mandatory stability control.
The driver and front passenger each have an airbag directly in front, and another beside them protecting their upper bodies from side impacts. Curtain airbags down each side of the car protect heads front and rear from side impacts. The seventh airbag protects the driver’s knees.
The 300C Luxury and 300 SRT come with an extensive active safety package. It begins with camera-and-radar based autonomous braking that operates at city and highway speeds. If it concludes that a frontal collision is imminent (typically with a car ahead that has slowed suddenly), it will warn you and, if you don’t act immediately, will apply the brakes automatically.
The same sensors support adaptive cruise control, which can maintain a safe distance automatically from a car in front on the highway. It incorporates a nifty full-stop feature that will bring the car to a complete stop if required, before accelerating again automatically to whatever speed you had selected.
Sensors also monitor lane-markings, and if you begin to drift out of your lane they trigger a warning and corrective action from the steering wheel. A blind-spot monitor helps prevent your changing lanes into the path of an overtaking vehicle. And a cross-path-detection system helps you avoid reversing into vehicles passing behind you.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has not tested the Chrysler 300.
However, the USA’s version of ANCAP, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), awarded the 2016 Chrysler 300 four out of five stars.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Far more than in any previous model. The original 300 range arrived in Australia with soggy-feeling suspension and a wandering steering wheel that always felt like it was giving the front tyres the silent treatment. SRT models, while quick in a straight line, were lumped with a five-speed gearbox hopelessly outmatched by the engine, reducing gear changes in and out of corners to something of a lucky dip.
This facelifted 300, which arrived in 2015, has improved its road manners tremendously. Key changes include a new electric steering system that injects life into the drive experience, and a revised and lighter suspension, which has made the car more engaging. It’s still not as nimble as a V8 Holden Commodore, but the changes do mean there’s some driver enjoyment to be squeezed out of the 300.
SRT models, in particular, benefited from the new eight-speed gearbox, which is near-perfectly mated with the V8 engine. SRTs are also equipped with a customisable launch control program, which is hilarious fun. It allows you to dial-in your desired engine speed pre-take off, and then time both the zero-100km/h sprint and the quarter-mile time and speed. It’s addictive. And when you run out of road or courage, the big Brembo brakes pull you up with ease.
While its prime duty is clearly comfortable cruising (in a V6) or straight-line speed (in a V8), a 300 does not feel out of place on a track or a twisty road. Sure, you can never quite forget its sheer size and weight, but it doesn’t feel like you’re manhandling a bus. That alone is an astonishing achievement considering the 300’s bulk.
All up, it’s a far more rewarding driving experience than you might expect, right across the range.
How is life in the rear seats?Spacious. At a touch over five metres long and almost two metres wide, space is not an issue anywhere in the 300, and that’s especially true of the back seat. Rear passengers can control seat heating (except in the SRT Core) and generally revel in the space provided by such a big car.
How is it is Chrysler 300 carrying stuff?A little less spacious, which is weird considering how big the rear-end looks from the outside. The weakness of any sedan is the odd-shaped boot opening, which Chrysler negates somewhat by having such a low-cut boot line. Still, while it claims a 462-litre capacity, you’d only get close to it if you were literally pouring 462 litres of water into the back. The boot will swallow several bags of lime and a medium-sized shovel or two, though. And the rear seats offer a 60-40 split for any, erm, bulkier items.
Where is the Chrysler 300 made?The Chrysler 300 range is built in Ontario, Canada.
What might I miss that similar cars have?Not much in a big rear-drive sedan near this price.
The Kia Stinger and Australian-built Holden Commodore offer a more involving drive.
A Hyundai Genesis will provide a more comfortable ride and a better-quality interior.
If it is V8-powered American muscle that appeals to you in the 300, then a V8 Ford Mustang might be worth considering. But with two doors and considerably less cabin space, it’s playing on a different field.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?The Chrysler 300 is marketed (in America at least) as a credible rival to German premium sedans, and so every trim offers plenty of luxury and technology. And with only two grades per engine, it’s almost as easy as choosing the size of engine you want.
It must be said, though, that – a little like a Ford Mustang – the Chrysler 300 doesn’t feel quite right with anything but a V8 under the bonnet. Plus, the V8 versions aren’t even sold in America: they were designed for Australia and the Middle East, and that’s quite a cool thing to brag about.
If it is simply the idea of a mean V8 that’s got you strolling into a Chrysler dealership, then of the two V8 options the Core is the car for you.
However, the full-fruit SRT is more comfortable inside, rides a little better and offers a significantly improved stereo. So our pick has to be the Chrysler 300 SRT, right? Bags full of power, equipment and technology make it a pretty appealing proposition.
Are there plans to update this model soon?Not in any major way. The car received a fairly comprehensive update in 2015, from both a design and an engineering perspective, which means a significant update is unlikely before mid-2018.
Things we like
- Standard equipment, comfort, unique design
Not so much
- Fuel use
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