2015 Chrysler 300 LimitedPosted on July 9th, 2015
Flagship sedan is perfect for summer road trips
By Nina Russin
It’s the Fourth of July weekend and my husband and I are loading up a 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited sedan for the trip between Phoenix, Arizona and Durango, Colorado. Over the next four days we will log over 1,000 miles, taking in low and high desert, mountains, hundred-plus degree temperatures and monsoonal rain. Elevation gain between Phoenix at 1,200 feet and Hesperus, Colorado, the highest point of the drive, is about 7,000 feet.
The 300 is Chrysler’s flagship: a full-size sedan that goes head-to-head with the Toyota Avalon and Ford Taurus. Available with rear or all-wheel drive, it shares chassis components with the four-door Dodge Charger, but the car’s styling and performance are geared towards an upscale market versus the Charger’s sportier focus.
Power for the test car comes from the same Pentastar V-6 engine used in the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Challenger and Charger. While the Jeep engine is tuned for low-end torque the 300 block gets an extra dose of horsepower. An eight-speed rotary shift automatic transmission utilizes large overdrive gears to extend fuel economy to 31 mpg on the highway.
Base price for the Limited model is $31,570 excluding the $995 destination charge. Options on the test car include a convenience package that adds LED fog lights, rear backup camera, remote start and a universal garage door opener and a Uconnect option including navigation and HD radio, bringing the final MSRP to $35,255.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing
Despite its elegant exterior and heritage egg crate grille, the Chrysler 300 is very much a 21st century car with the chops to rival European luxury brands. The powertrain is an impressive piece of work, making child’s play of the steep ascents we encountered between Phoenix and the towns of Payson and Heber in northern Arizona. Not only is the engine’s climbing power impressive; so is the lack of parasitic power loss in altitudes over 6,000 feet.
The electric power steering system is nicely tuned with plenty of assist on the low end for maneuverability and a pleasantly heavy feel at speed. The four-wheel independent suspension consists of coil springs over gas-charged monotube shocks up front and a five-link setup in back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners while an isolated suspension cradle on the rear axle gives the sedan the smooth ride customers in this segment are looking for.
Visibility around the perimeter is good thanks to a generous greenhouse and rearview camera. Although the test car didn’t come with blind spot monitoring I had no problem seeing cars in adjacent lanes on the highway. Because of the high cowl I needed to adjust the driver’s seat fairly high to maintain a clear forward view.
Standard daytime running lamps add an extra design element to the front of the car and a measure of safety going along canyon roads. Long sections of our route through northern Arizona are two-lane affairs that wind through the mountains where blind spots are the norm rather than the exception. Going across the Navajo reservation in New Mexico blinding dust storms are a frequent occurrence in the summer. I was happy to have both headlamps and daytime running lamps to make our vehicle more visible to traffic in the opposing lane.
We had a chance to test the halogen headlamps in Durango, Colorado where streets in the peripheral areas have few if any streetlamps. Overcast skies and thick summer foliage made these streets even darker. The headlamps did a good job of projecting a bright long beam of light so we could travel safely.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did an excellent job of isolating occupants from road, wind and engine noise. On road trips where the driving days last over eight hours, interior quiet makes the difference between arriving at the destination feeling rested versus worn out from the journey.
Chrysler’s interior design team headed up by Klaus Busse is one of the best in the industry. The interior on the Chrysler 300 sedan is reminiscent of high-end home furniture, with elegant integration of material, shape and texture.
It’s very practical as well. The rotary dial shift lever takes up considerably less space than a lever would, clearing up valuable real estate in the center console. That console also includes a covered bin under the center armrest and two cupholders large enough to hold 20-ounce water bottles.
The large Uconnect screen on the test car has bright, easy-to-read graphics. Since it is a touch screen it’s easy to program on the go. Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction.
A thin-film-transistor gauge cluster combines analog and digital functions in a single screen, including a speedometer, odometer and information screen. The display is beautifully designed
with blue graphics on a black background. However we found when the headlights were on during a rainstorm the screen dimmed too much and it was difficult to read.
Both driver’s and passenger seats on the test car have adjustable lower lumbar support that can make a big difference on long trips. I found the seat adjustments on both sides easy to use.
A large trunk holds multiple pieces of luggage, groceries, camping and sporting equipment. A cargo net holds plastic grocery bags so they don’t slide around on the way home from the store.
The Chrysler 300 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, electronic roll mitigation and tire pressure monitoring with a display that shows individual tire pressures.
Chrysler builds the 300 at its Brampton, Ontario Canada assembly plant.
Like: A stylish full-size sedan with a high level of standard safety and convenience features. The V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combine excellent power with good fuel economy on the highway.
Dislike: Gauge cluster and center stack displays are difficult to read when the driver turns the headlights on for rainstorms and other low light daytime conditions.
Model: 300 Limited
Base price: $31,570
As tested: $35,255
Horsepower: 292 Hp @ 6350 rpm
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/31 mpg city/highway