Admit it: you kind of forgot about the Chrysler 300.
It’s understandable. The Charger and Challenger get the lion’s share of the LX platform attention these days, thanks to increasingly demonic engines. Meanwhile the 300 has soldiered on, a veritable dinosaur of the automotive world. This generation showed up in 2011, and its last facelift was in 2015. But a funny thing has happened over that time: it’s outlasted every other American full-size sedan.
That puts the 300 in a unique position within the market. It’s old, sure, but it’s a reminder of what came before. In our tester’s Limited AWD trim, it offers a distinctly American take on relatively affordable luxury. Here in 2020, is that enough to keep it relevant?
Still looks the boss
I’m standing my ground here: the 300 still looks great. It’s a tank of a car, with chiselled straight lines and ample wheel arches. The AWD model has a little more gap in its wheel wells than I’d like, and the chrome wheels on my tester are probably the least attractive option in the lineup, but otherwise the 300 has aged gracefully. It’s a distinct look that’s more substantial than the bulbous Nissan Maxima, the invisible Kia Cadenza, and the basking shark Toyota Avalon. With the Velvet Red paint and those afore-mentioned chrome wheels, it does have a whiff of retiree rental about it, but the basic rear-drive proportions of the 300 are still spot-on.
A drivetrain made for wafting
The 300 makes a good first impression right on startup. The Limited comes with the Pentastar V6, and it’s one of the best of the breed. With 3.6 liters of swept volume, it produces 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. There’s just a hint of aggression when you thumb the engine start button, but that dissipates to a distant rumble as you head off. The ZF eight-speed auto is the perfect pairing here, slurring the ratios for the smoothest of progress—you’ll have to keep an eye on the tach to notice the shifts, they’re that smooth.
Around town or on the highway, the 300 cocoons you in a serene lack of road and tire noise. It’s the sort of quiet you’d expect of a six-figure luxury car. Thanks to this calming nature, the 300 is able to crush long distances the way you binged that last Netflix show: without effort, and with a sneaking suspicion time just folded in on itself.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Review
The 300’s suspension can’t quite match the Lebowski levels of chill from the drivetrain, however. It’s plenty smooth, but the suspension takes longer to truly settle after low-speed bumps than I’d prefer. Those chunky tire sidewalls definitely do give it a softer ride though.
All-wheel drive would probably help in autumn and winter, but here on the cusp of summer, I rarely noticed it coming into play. (Mandatory PSA: AWD isn’t as helpful as a good set of winter tires!) A brief run down some dirt roads was the only time I sensed any slip from the rear. The 300’s throttle tip-in is pretty aggressive from standing starts though, which contributed.
Steering feel is of the barely-there variety, and the 300 needs quite a few winds to go from lock to lock. But that feels perfectly in keeping with its luxo-barge status.
Space to stretch out
The 300’s chunky looks and imposing size suggest an ample amount of interior space, and that’s exactly the case. There’s more than enough space inside for four adults, even when they all shop at the local Big & Tall. The seats are broad and flat, with a dark brown Nappa leather that feels good. They lack any significant bolstering, but chances are buyers aren’t looking for major lateral gs in the 300. Nope, these big boys are built for comfort, especially thanks to the Limited’s heated and ventilated items. More on those later.
The second row is comfy too, though it’s a little tougher in terms of ingress and egress. Blame the 300’s distinct short-window look: the door opening cuts into headspace, though there’s a solid amount once you’re inside. A cavernous trunk offers up 16.3 cubic feet of space.
Materials and dash design are the clearest signs that the 300 started life at the beginning of the last decade. There’s wood-like inserts in the dash and center console that won’t fool anyone. What’s worse, the pattern makes it seem dusty, even when it isn’t. Also egregious is the main dash material: it looks like the skin of a CGI brachiosaurus made real. Resist the urge to smear moisturizer all over it.
Tech approach: keep it simple
Despite the 300’s age, its Uconnect infotainment system remains one of the best in the biz. The 8.4-inch center screen is easy to read and use, and standard across every trim. It responds to inputs quickly and accurately, and nearly everything is grouped logically, so you spend little time poking around for what you’re looking for. My one complaint centers around the front seat temperature controls. The only way to adjust them is in the infotainment, with no hard buttons anywhere. It’s something that shouldn’t need menu-diving on the move, especially as some of the existing hard buttons are probably used less often.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Toyota Avalon Review
The Limited is the penultimate step on the 300 trim ladder, just short of the V8-powered 300C. In rear-drive form, the Limited starts at $40,090 including destination ($48,590 Canadian). Opting for AWD bumps that up to $42,840 ($50,790 CAD). Right there it’s already bumping up against the top-trim pricing of the Avalon, Maxima, and Cadenza—but that’s before you option in some of the expected modern safety features. Parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure alert, lane keep assist, automated emergency braking, auto high-beams, and adaptive cruise control are all part of a $2,995 package on the Limited.
Most of these features aren’t even available on the Touring and Touring L trim in America, but they can be optioned onto any trim in Canada. On the Limited, they’re split into two safety packages, totalling 1,690 loonies. In fact, nearly every option is cheaper in the Great White North. Maybe it’s because Chrysler builds the 300, as well as the Challenger and Charger, right in Ontario?
Adaptive cruise control works well in the big sedan. It’s capable of coming to a complete stop, and only disengages if that lasts for more than a few seconds. The lane-keep assist also does its work without too much of a fuss: it’s clear when the system is correcting the wheel.
Special note for the analog dials: I’m a big fan. Yes, the bright blue hue feels at odds with the stately exterior styling, but they’re fun and interesting in a world of boring gauges.
Verdict: 2020 Chrysler 300 Limited AWD
By some modern metrics, the 300 is not a great car. It’s thirsty—the EPA rates it at 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined, and NRCAN pegs it at 12.8, 8.7, and 11.0 L/100 km, respectively. It’s pricey too, if you want any of the driver and safety assists that come in the competition. My tester rang in at $51,645 including destination ($56,585 CAD), which is some 20 grand more than a base model.
Chrysler’s full-sizer earns big points for being the last of its kind, however. There are zero sporting pretensions here, and the appeal of that for a certain demographic can’t be understated. And if it’s too pipe-and-slippers for you, there’s the mechanically identical Dodge Charger.