The car market seems to go through stages where big is in, then big is out, then it’s in again. Gas hits $4.25 a gallon and everyone scrambles back to the small vehicles and hybrids.
Lately the manufacturers have been sprucing up their larger models, and the public has responded. One of the hits has been the Chrysler 300 - which I jokingly refer to as a gangster car, just because of the “I’ll kick your butt” feel it gives off.
But really, it’s a sweetheart. Here’s what I discovered after tooling around for almost a week in the 300C...
First of all, I should point out that the gangster car is ready for any type of Colorado weather. There are multiple trim levels for you to choose from, but keep in mind that all-wheel-drive is certainly an option. Plus, in the 300C the standard equipment includes not only heated (and ventilated) front seats as standard equipment, the rear seats are heated, too, along with the steering wheel. We like that around here.
Obviously everyone’s taste in exterior styles will be different, but you can’t deny that the Chrysler 300 stands out from the crowd. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate a Toyota from a Nissan from an Infiniti, but the 300 has its own unique signature.
Inside you’ll have a nice appreciation for the spacious, comfortable front seats. (Not as much room in the back, where I was surprised that the legroom wasn’t what I expected.) The analog clock adds a nice touch of class. There's decent storage in the front, and about-average room in the trunk.
Materials quality is good; I especially liked the pebbled dashboard. The controls are intuitive and laid out well - I gripe aloud about overly-complicated controls for climate and sound, but the 300 is a breeze. One minor ding would be the somewhat-cool gear shifter; I found myself in neutral more than once when I was shooting for reverse. It’s just a bit too touchy, maybe. (But it looks cool.)
Take your pick between the V6 and V8, but my test car came with the V6 and it delivered plenty of power. Sure, the AWD aspect cost me a little bit with mileage, but for a large sedan 21 mpg (combined) isn’t too bad.
Where the Chrysler scores well is “drive for the money.” It’s a smooth ride, with good handing and fine steering. No, the ride won’t be confused with that of a Lexus, but it does harken back to its old association with Mercedes (remember DaimlerChrysler?). The point is that, while it may not be the all-time smooth-ride champ, it also won’t set you back as much as some of the luxury options, either.
For many people the prime reason for getting a big car is the safety factor, and, again, here the 300C doesn’t disappoint. It earns top-of-the-line 5-star government ratings overall in crash tests.
My test version - the 300C with AWD - was base-priced at just over $39k. My option package included the Beats Audio Group (you’ll look extremely trendy with that lower-case red ‘b’, don’tcha know?), the Safety Tec group (blind spot warning, collision warning, etc), and the beefed up Light Group. Throw in a Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof (love those things) and it ups the sticker to more than $45k.
Car makers have definitely turned their attention back to their big players, so the market has several choices for you to consider. But, given the combination of price, ride, handling, and interior comfort, the Chrysler 300C is a solid choice.
Reviewed by Dom Testa / Test car provided by the manufacturer