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Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Chrysler 300 Review

2018 Chrysler 300 Review
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Classic lines? Big V-8 power? Rear-wheel drive? The 2018 Chrysler 300 still has us by the feels.

It’s 2018, and it’s still here. The Chrysler 300 has become a still-living legend. Back for its 14th model cycle, the bruising 4-door reminds us why we still like big rear-drive sedans, why big V-8 power is no mortal sin.

It gives us hope that we too can outlive our difficult middle years and become cool once again.

For 2018, the 300 comes in Touring, Touring-L, 300S, 300 Limited, and 300C trim, but outside of revised trim bundles, not much changes in terms of performance or price.

It’s worth a 6.7 on our ratings scale, still, by the grace of its semi-timeless shape, its rorty V-8, and its still competitive list of tech gear.

Upright in a laid-back way, the Chrysler 300 throws off effortlessly cool vibes. The shape is still elegant, all these years down the road. The shoulders are wide, the sheet metal well-tailored, the grille meshes perfectly with the shape. The body wraps around a cabin that comes off somber in basic black trim, but warms up like a patio heater when Chrysler applies natural wood trim and quilted leather.

The 300’s standard-issue V-6 and 8-speed automatic work just fine, if you’re only looking for fine. We’d spend up $3,000 or more for the blatty, muscular 363-hp V-8 and paddle shift controls. No, the Hellcat badge doesn’t apply over at Chrysler, but this V-8 gives off the right muscle-car scent without bathing in it. You can’t have the V-8 and all-wheel drive; if you choose to live in bad-weather states, remember, it’s a choice. Base cars have softer, pliant handling, so seek out the sport package’s firm-but-fair ride and handling. It’s still vintage big-car handling, but it’s all in the plus column.

Five people can fit in the 300 sedan, but rear-seat leg room is more like that found in today’s mid-size sedans. Opulent sport seats on the expensive models cup like a baseball mitt and wear perforated nappa leather; for 2018, cloth comes standard on base cars.

The 300 hasn’t kept up with new sedans in crash-test safety, but it can be equipped with forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and parking sensors to go with its standard rearview camera. Chrysler delivers its excellent infotainment interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and all models have a strong list of standard features. By the time you venture into 300C territory, a $40,000 price tag brings premium audio, ventilated front seats, and that lovely, pitch-perfect natural wood trim.

Styling
A classic profile and a richly detailed cabin keep the 2018 Chrysler 300 on the styling map.

The Chrysler 300 hasn’t changed its suit, really, since the 2005 model year. But what a suit it owns: crisp, natty, tailored to Brat Pack standards. It’s held up remarkably well, and so has its interior.

The 300’s confident shape has a neat balance of angles and rounded corners. It’s a classic long-nose, short-trunk sedan, and it wears its elegant, simple sheet metal well. The plushest models muck it up a bit with too much add-on aero trim, but their big 20-inch wheels fill out the wells in a perfectly menacing way. The simple grille doesn’t interfere with the bluff front end.

In profile it’s brawny and square-shouldered, but still sleek. LED taillights cap off its blocky but distinguished bod. 300S models get blacked-out trim and wheels, and a black-painted roof is available.

The 300 cabin has organic shapes and smooth curves. Hard plastic trims out base 300 cabins, but higher-priced models swaddle the cabin in high-gloss black trim or in natural-finish wood, as well as quilted-leather door panels and subdued metallic trim. In its top trim, the Chrysler 300C has a compelling and luxurious appeal that’s influenced later cars, like the Pacifica minivan.

Performance
Mature but athletic, the 2018 Chrysler 300 puts big-car handling in the plus column.

The Chrysler 300 reveals glints of its distant Mercedes heritage in its ride comfort and easy big-car handling. It’s no sports car, but the 300 can be a satisfying sporty sedan, even with V-6 power.

A 3.6-liter V-6 powers all 300 sedans, save for the 300C and some upgraded 300S models. It’s rated at 292 hp—or 300 hp in the 300S, with the 8-hp gain coming from a performance exhaust and a cold-air intake. The V-6 makes fine power in a car the 300’s size, and most buyers won’t need more than it delivers. It pulls strongly onto interstates, executes two-lane passes briskly, and does it with a relatively quiet rumble.
We won’t blame you if you skip right to the V-8. What’s a big domestic sedan without one? The 300 sports a 363-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 engine with 394 lb-ft of torque and a muscular, blatty exhaust note. With it, the 0-60 mph dash takes 5.8 seconds. Power comes on strong, and the V-8 doles out power in a focused, smooth stream, without the firehose of torque that shoots out of Dodge’s Charger Hellcat.

An 8-speed automatic is standard across the 300 lineup, and it’s the sweet-shifting unit found across a wide swath of cars from Jaguar to Chrysler to Audi. On 300S and 300C sedans, the gearbox has paddle shift controls and a sport mode that remaps throttle uptake and shift speeds for better response.

The 300C is rear-drive only, but all V-6-powered 300 sedans can be fitted with all-wheel drive with an axle-disconnect feature that saves fuel when extra front-wheel traction isn’t needed.

Chrysler 300 ride and handling

The 300's big-car feel can be charming, including the body roll and soft heaving motions during acceleration and braking. It’s a trip into the wayback machine on those base models—more likely so this year, since base 300s now have smaller 17-inch wheels standard.

Consider us fans nonetheless. The 300 drives like a big American sedan should. It’s no sports car, but it’s stable and confident, and communicative in a way few front-drive cars can match. When the road turns twisty, you'll feel the 300’s size, though the standard electric power steering makes light work of taking turns.

For those requiring a little more edge, there’s the 300S. It has a retuned suspension with stiffer springs, quicker steering, firmer bushings, 20-inch Goodyear summer tires, and on V-8 cars, thicker sway bars. It still drives like a big car, but a more tautly composed one that still doesn’t hammer away on Detroit-style roads. Especially with the V-8, the 300S is a quick, fun-to-drive big car.

Comfort & Quality
Skip the impoverished models; the Chrysler 300 you seek has natural-finish wood and high-end leather.

Chrysler has built the 300 around an appealingly roomy passenger space, and given it good storage space to boot.

We give it a 7 for comfort and quality. The interiors on higher-spec cars can be quite lovely, and their seats have good support.

No matter which 300 you choose, the seats suit larger frames well. The bottom cushion is wide, the backrest is supportive, and adjustments abound. The 300 has plenty of head and leg room for front passengers, too. On some top models, more sporty seats have quite prominent bolsters that tuck in passengers more snugly—maybe too snugly, if those passengers are broad of beam.

The back seat is fine for three people to sit across, if they’re moderately sized. The seats are reasonably comfortable, too, though tall passengers might need to share some of the leg room supplied to the front passengers.

Cupholders are, as you’d expect of a large American sedan, plentiful and well-sized. Elsewhere in the cabin there’s plenty of space for your stuff, including a bin ahead of the rotary shifter, molded-in bottle holders in the doors, and a 16.3-cubic-foot trunk.

The 300 gets some finer materials applied in the top 300C and 300S models. Base cars have some hard plastic trim, and most models have a rubberized material on the dash that feels fine but tends to collect dust. The gorgeous trim applied to 300C sedans pairs open-pore wood with lovely stitched nappa leather; the analog clock on the dash finally looks right in that context.

Safety
The 2018 Chrysler 300 has fallen behind its rivals in crash safety.

The Chrysler 300 doesn’t fare well in crash tests. It rates a 5 on our safety scale.

The latest crash-test data from the NHTSA puts the sedan at four stars overall, with four-star protection for some front and side impacts. The IIHS pegs the 300 as “Good” in many front-impact tests, but says it’s “Marginal” in small-overlap crashes.

All 300 sedans come with a driver knee airbag, a rearview camera, and hill-start assist. An option package bundles the latest safety gear: it includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control, as well as automatic high beams.

Outward vision is fine in the 2018 300, thanks to somewhat thin roof pillars.

Features
The 2018 Chrysler 300 swanks up its aging bod with CarPlay and nappa leather.

Chrysler has tweaked the trim levels for the 300 sedan this year. Four models have become five, with new Touring and Touring L trims added below the 300S, 300 Limited, and 300C.

Chrysler fits all of them with a good set of standard equipment, and it has good infotainment and lovely high-end touches that keep interest sustained in the aging sedan. We give it an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All 300 sedans start with Touring-level trim, which has 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, power front seats, and power features. Touring L cars have heated front seats, leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition, and a heated tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

All models come with Chrysler’s easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and a rearview camera. A mobile connectivity package lets owners stream audio from Pandora and Slacker and other apps, using their phone’s data bucket.

Chrysler 300 Limited cars add leather, navigation, cooled front seats, a sunroof, heated rear seats, wood trim, and a 276-watt audio system.

The 300S gets a 300-hp version of the V-6 with an option for V-8 power, a sport-tuned suspension, and 20-inch summer tires. The S also has a transmission Sport mode and shift paddles, black exterior and interior trim, remote start, and a Beats sound system with 552 watts of power.

On the 300C, Chrysler ladles swanky leather, wood trim, memory for driver seat and mirrors, quilted and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 20-inch wheels, and a sunroof. A 900-watt 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a Poltrona Frau leather-wrapped dash are options.

Fuel Economy
Fuel-savers may miss out on power, but they’ll get the better of the Chrysler 300’s EPA ratings.

The most recent EPA ratings for the Chrysler 300 give credit where it’s due. V-6 cars perform well; V-8s don’t.

More of you buy the V-6 Chrysler 300, so we rate it a 6 based on those figures. 

The rear-wheel-drive V-8 Chrysler 300 has EPA ratings of 16 mpg city, 25 highway, 19 combined.

V-6 cars start at 19/30/23 mpg, but fall to 18/27/21 mpg when all-wheel drive is added.

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