2015 Chrysler 300Posted on December 22nd, 2014
Flagship sedan is the new face of Chrysler
By Nina Russin
What once was old is new again. For 2015, Chrysler pays homage to the sedan that helped to launch the muscle car era with an all-new model geared towards active millennial buyers.
The 1955 Chrysler 300 hardtop was the sweetheart of the NASCAR circuit, thanks to its 331 cubic inch Hemi engine that developed 300 horsepower. The 363-horsepower Hemi engine available on the all-new 2015 300 sedan accelerates from zero-to-sixty in less than six seconds as compared to 16.9 seconds for the ’55 model. Thanks to an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission it gets much better gas mileage as well: 25 mpg on the highway according to the EPA.
The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine on the base model is no wallflower either, developing 292 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of peak torque. The Pentastar engine is the brand’s soup-to-nuts V-6, found in everything from the base Challenger to the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. It’s a great block, balanced and durable, tuned in this case for the needs of the full-sized sedan.
All-wheel drive is available as a $2500 option on all V-6 equipped models. Hemi V-8 cars are rear-wheel drive only.
Although designers claim the new car design has its roots in the ’55 model, the resemblance is minimal. The 2015 model is really an evolution of Ralph Gilles’ 2005 car. Gilles, who is best known as the big gun of Chrysler’s SRT program co-created the ’05 model with designers Trevor Creed and Mark Hall. Gilles drew inspiration from Virgil Exner: the designer whose concept cars brought a new sense of passion to the industry.
The 2011 Chrysler 300 was a more conservative package, meant to provide a stable basis for the passenger car lineup during a transitional period for the company. Now that the marriage with Fiat is set in stone, hence the new FCA umbrella, the design team felt comfortable taking more risks with the flagship design.
Brandon Faurote who led the exterior design team describes the 2015 car’s grille as an ‘epic look.’ The grille is 30 percent larger than the one on the 2011 model, framed by headlamps and LED daytime running lamps. Amber lights are relocated to the fenders so as not to interfere with the front end’s bright white scheme.
A Sport model features a gloss black grille in contrast to the chrome mesh on the base Limited, C and C Platinum models. Black headlamps, hyper black wheels and an available black roof give the Sport more of a muscle car look.
In profile, an aggressive beltline leads the eye from the front to the back. A slightly raised rear decklid pays homage to the fins on the 1955 car. In back LED tail lamps have chrome surrounds and glass flush to the paint. Integrated exhaust tips maintain their original appearance longer since they can’t sag the way exhaust pipes hung under the bumper can.
Four trim levels
Chrysler is offering the 300 in four trim levels beginning with the Limited priced from $31,895 excluding the $995 destination charge. Product planners carried over pricing from 2014 on the base model that they expect to be the volume leader at 45 percent of the mix. Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry with pushbutton start, leather trim, Bluetooth interface, a Beats audio system, Sirius satellite radio and Uconnect infotainment.
The Sport that comes in second at 35 percent of the mix starts at $34,895. The youthful Sport is equipped with the black trim package described above, 20-inch wheels, leather seating, and a sport-tuned suspension. The V-6 engine on the Sport is tuned for 10 additional horsepower and four more foot-pounds of torque than on other models.
A new exterior color called Redline Red and the black roof are available as options.
The 300C comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior mirrors and door handles, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, Uconnect radio with navigation, Sirius XM with real-time traffic, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering column, driver’s seat memory. Pricing starts at $37,895 for the V-6 rear-wheel drive car.
The upscale C Platinum adds platinum chrome exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, touring tuned suspension, paddle shifters, black or two-tone interior, Nappa leather seating, stitched leather instrument panel and wood trim. Pricing begins at $42,395.
Test drive in Texas hill country
On a recent media event I drove the Chrysler 300C and Limited grades on routes that began and ended in Austin’s city center. A mixture of highway, two-lane rural roads through the surrounding hill country and narrow surface streets through small towns along the route offered a good chance to put both the V-6 rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models through their paces.
Chrysler’s newest full-sized sedan is a lot of car for the money. The base Limited is a solid car with no compromises. Standard safety features include seven airbags, a rearview camera, stability control with electronic roll mitigation, traction control and tire pressure monitoring. Buyers can add blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, lane departure warning and assist.
Inside, a seven-inch thin-film-transistor driver information display in the gauge cluster includes some of the best navigation graphics in the industry. With Uconnect, the sedan serves as a mobile hotspot, and a new app enables owners to start their cars remotely using their smart phones. New USB ports in the second row let kids plug in their tablets on long road trips.
The V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission are a rock solid combination on the powertrain that product planners expect to make up 85 percent of the sales mix. I love the fact that the V-6 engine is chain driven as opposed to having a timing belt that requires replacement at about 60,000 miles. A rotary shift knob on the center console takes up less space than traditional gearshift levers.
The rear-wheel drive 300C ate up the hills outside of Austin with ease. The transmission progressed smoothly through the gears with no shift shock under normal driving conditions.
All models come with an electric power steering system. It is nicely tuned to the car. My driving partner and I were both impressed with the steering response on some of the off-camber turns along our route. One advantage of EPS is a short turning radius: something urbanites who must occasionally park on the street will find especially handy.
Because we were driving on dry roads, I didn’t notice a big difference in performance between the rear-wheel and all-wheel drive models. My recommendation would be for those living in warmer areas of the south, southwest and west coast to opt for the more fuel-efficient rear-wheel drive while those in the snow-belt select the all-wheel drive platform for better wet weather performance.
A drive select feature enables owners to customize throttle response, suspension tuning and steering to their specific needs with three settings: normal, sport and eco. The driver can also adjust the amount of steering correction on the optional lane departure assist feature by going into his radio settings.
As a small woman, I felt comfortable with the available driver’s seat adjustments that enabled me to have a clear forward view. The steering wheel is on the large side but by no means unwieldy. Redundant radio and Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.
The view around the perimeter is fairly clear. Positioning of the A pillars is much better in this car than in the midsized 200. The standard rearview camera has lines superimposed over the wide-angle camera image to show the driver the direction the car will take according to steering inputs.
An acoustic windshield minimizes wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior. The car was pleasantly quiet during the highway stretches of the test drive.
Fit and finish throughout the car is exceptional. All of the available interiors have a premium feel befitting of a more expensive car. Designers based interior color combinations on US cities such as La Jolla, Manhattan, Sausalito and Detroit.
Graphics for the center stack screen that includes Uconnect and navigation are easy to read in bright sunlight. Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.
Rolling out in January
The 2015 Chrysler 300 is currently in production at Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario Canada production plant and will arrive in dealerships at the beginning of the calendar year.
Like: A stylish, solid full-sized sedan with a high level of standard safety features, good fuel economy and available all-wheel drive for all-weather capability.
Base price: $31,395
As tested: $37,580 (AWD Limited), $38,890 (300C RWD)
Horsepower: 292 Hp @ 6350 rpm (V-6)
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 (RWD), 18/27 mpg (AWD)
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