Chrysler resurrected a blast from the past with the return of the 300 nameplate as the 1999 300M. But the 300 really hit its stride in 2005 when Chrysler dropped the front-wheel-drive platform and swoopy body, and released the more traditional rear-driven, boxy sedan that buyers love today.
In 2018, the 300 remains unapologetically American, despite its recent connection to Italy, with its chunky body, well-placed curves, and traditional rear-drive setup. Oh, and did we mention an optional Hemi V8 under its hood?
It’s these distinct attributes that make it stand out in the crowd of large sedans, like the Toyota Avalon, Chevy Impala, and Buick LaCrosse.
The best Chrysler 300 for the buck is far and away the 300S. For only a few thousand dollars more than the base trim, the 300S adds in leather upholstery, a 552-watt audio system, a sport-tuned suspension, and more. Also, it’s the first trim that allows buyers to check the mighty Hemi V8 option (a $3,000 option that's only available with rear-wheel drive), though the 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is just fine too.
Along with its wide range of standard features, we find the SafetyTec Plus group’s list of safety features quite valuable at $2,345. You do have to add the $995 Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-Inch Display package to get this, but that’s a small price to pay for desirable features like in-dash navigation, a larger screen, and advanced smartphone integration.
- Model: 2018 Chrysler 300S
- Engine: 3.6-liter V6
- Output: 300 hp / 264 lb-ft
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
- MPG: 19 city / 30 highway
- Options: SafetyTec Plus Group ($2,345, adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, auto-dimming side-view mirror, automatic high-beam control, blind-spot and cross-path detection, mirror-mounted turn signals and courtesy lamps, full-speed frontal collision warning, lane-departure warning plus, front and rear park assist, power mirrors, rain-sensing wipers), Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-Inch Display ($995, 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, GPS navigation, HD Radio, voice command with Bluetooth, two USB ports, SiriusXM radio with one-year subscription, five years of SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link Service)
- Base Price: $39,390 (includes $1,095 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$42,730
From bottom to top, the Chrysler 300 is a competent performer. Its 3.6-liter V6 lays down 292 to 300 hp and does plenty to get this big sedan motivated, while the 5.7-liter V8 with 363 hp and 394 pound-feet of torque is well versed in the art of the burnout. Pairing with these engines is a slick eight-speed automatic transmission that is perfectly comfortable on leisurely Sunday drives and banging hard at full throttle. Buyers can choose from traditional rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, making this a great option for all climates.
On the downside, the 300’s glaring hole in its powertrain is the lack of Hellcat power. Its platform mates, the Dodge Challenger and Charger, both use this 707-hp beast, but Chrysler seems hesitant to drop it in the 300. We’ve seen SRT versions of the 300 in the past, so why the hesitation now? The 300's size is also something of an issue – this is a big American sedan, and that means agility plays second fiddle to straight-line speed.
If you love classic American styling, the 300 is your car. Its blocky but still refined body is a thing of beauty and holds up well despite its age. Inside, occupants are treated to a well-thought-out cabin that boasts lots of high-end materials in higher trims.
Unfortunately, the 300’s lower trim levels kill the mood a bit with their plastic trim and cheaper interior finishes, We also found the aero trimming on some of the higher-end models a bit of a distraction from its otherwise beautiful shape.
Space, though, is certainly a bonus. Second-row legroom is immense, while the front seats are big, supportive, and comfortable for long drives.