The American sedan is dying. Full size sedans are downsizing their powerplants, shuffling their drive wheels, and wholly being usurped by crossovers. The era of big, rear-drive sedans with large displacement V8s seems to be waning. Ford has been out of the game for years. The Chevrolet SS, a vestigial model from GM’s shuttering Australian operation, gets no marketing budget. But if you ask FCA, they act like nothing is happening. The stylish 300 has largely stayed above the fray. With a standard V6, optional AWD, and updated style for 2015, it maintains a broad appeal. But high atop the model list sits a throwback to time gone by. With a 5.7L V8, rear-wheel drive, and plenty of leather and chrome, Chrysler’s 300C Platinum stands alone. Can it provide the nostalgia of big, American, family motoring while remaining thoroughly modern?
2015 brings a refresh to the 300. The new “face of Chrysler” front end centers around a more upright grille, unique LED daytime running lights, and optional LED fog lights. A restyled rear fascia includes LED tailamps, lower rear valance, and chrome accent bookend the 300’s profile. The 300 has always been a sharp, and expensive-looking, car. This latest iteration continues the trend, offering Rolls Royce pomp for the American public. Our tester, the new 2015 300C Platinum, is Chrysler range-topping luxury model. To visually set it apart, it swaps out chrome brightwork for more sophisticated platinum chrome accents and unique 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.
Inside, the 300C Platinum takes luxury to another level. Two-tone indigo/linen Nappa leather adorns almost all interior surfaces. Both the seats and door panels receive extra attention with quilting on the linen inserts. Linen contrast stitching accents the dashboard and instrument cluster’s indigo hue and matte-mocha stained natural pore wood. Chrysler’s uConnect system is accessible on the bright, 8.4-inch touchscreen just below a classic analog clock. There are only a few spaces throughout the cabin that don’t feel up to par with the rest of the materials. The highlight, for the driver, is the two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel with metal paddles and accent ring. The three-spoke wheel is thick without being unwieldy. Unfortunately, the metallic accent ring does get quite warm in summer weather, leading to at least one singed finger.
Our week with the 300C found the Limited Slip team traveling overnight to Boston. The Chrysler is a born highway cruiser. The 300 isn’t a B-52’s era Chrysler, but it is large enough to fit three adults with overnight bags and have room to spare. Boston is a confusing city to navigate. Streets seem to go every which way with absolutely no semblance of order. While the uConnect system did its best, we missed at least two turns because it wasn’t quite clear enough which way we should have been going. Around town, the 300 is every bit as good as it was on the highway. Potholes and cobblestone streets don’t disrupt the cabin. The comfortable suspension tuning and big V8 do tend to clash on back roads.
The 300C Premium’s party piece is its 5.7L V8. It doesn’t feel like a truck engine, despite being the same unit found underhood of Ram’s 1500. Even with cylinder deactivation, this is one smooth operator. 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft torque effortlessly propel the 300C forward. For 2015, all 300s are equipped with the new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. Dial “D” on the rotary shiftier for silky shifts and maximum efficiency. Push the rotary dial down and turn clockwise to “S” for sportier engine, transmission, and throttle pedal settings. The Sport button reduces shift times and holds the forces the transmission only to obey paddle-shift commands. While this isn’t the 300S, and therefore lacks the sportier suspension tuning, the big girl does get up and go when provoked. Whale jokes aside, the 300 is a big car. But 60mph arrives in less than 6 seconds, which is more than enough speed for a luxury sedan.
Our week, including the road trip, added just under 800 miles to the odometer. During that time, the 300C averaged a highly respectable 22mpg. That’s better than our average during a similar trip in the Lexus LS460. So maybe the big American sedan isn’t dead, its merely adjusted to the times. The 300 lineup has something for everyone. But only this 300C Platinum offers luxury options – a big V8, quilted leather, and a panoramic sunroof – with modern finishes and novelty features, like the heated and cooled cupholders. Its a formula that has transcended time. If Chrysler has anything to say about it, the classic American sedan isn’t dead yet.
|2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum
|5.7L V8 HEMI||$3,000|
|Phantom Black Tri-Coat||$500|
|As Tested MSRP||$45,895|
On the Bubble: 2015 Chrysler 200C