It might be getting old, but the Chrysler 300S is everything a full-size sedan should be
An all-weather sedan with road presence
Pros Sporty performance, handling/comfort balance, Uconnect’s ease of use
Cons Limited cargo capacity, overall fuel economy, lengthy option list
Value for money Good
What would I change? Make some of the options, namely those safety related, standard fare
In spite of being a throwback to the days of the Chrysler‘s alliance with Daimler, the 300 remains the company’s most expressive ride — it looks like it was designed to star in the Green Hornet. The 300S takes the Touring model’s basics and amps things up to give it a bolder look and a more engaging drive. It proved to be surprisingly sorted, given the size of its footprint and 1,935-kilogram curb weight.
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Where the 300S picks up the pace is with its sharper exterior looks some of which, including the rear spoiler, are part of the appearance package. The $700 is money well spent, if you want the 300S to stand out.
Beyond the look, it’s the on-road comportment that makes the 300 a cosseting and enjoyable drive. The suspension delivers a healthy dose of highway comfort, but it’s not shy when it comes time to go hooning through a corner. Part of the reason is found in the Sport mode; as with similar buttons, it imbues the 300S with a sharper throttle response, delays the upshift points and allows manual shifting through the steering wheel-mounted paddles. But, more importantly, it also sharpens the steering by putting a little more feel and heft in the wheel. Other than when tooling about town, Sport mode remained on during the entire test — it made the 300S feel much sportier than is suggested when it’s parked curbside!
The 300S also gets eight more horsepower than the base car. The S’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 arrives with 300 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque, which is up four pound-feet. This adds a tad more urgency to the drive; while the V6 lacks the 5.7L Hemi V8’s menacing growl and muscle — sadly, it’s only available in rear-drive flavour — the six did provide more than ample performance. The response to throttle input is fast and it remained suitably muted when worked at the top of the rev-range.
The eight-speed automatic transmission, complete with paddle shifters, was good at finding the right gear to maximize the power at play. It was also very good at ignoring the tendency so many multi-speed transmissions have, and that’s to hunt for the right gear when climbing a grade. Conversely, on the way down it downshifted to bring a little more engine braking.
Under normal driving conditions, the all-wheel-drive system powers the rear wheels, but as it’s smart it gets the power down without unwanted wheelspin — the front wheels are disconnected from the drivetrain to improve economy when not needed. The smart part is found in the fact it automatically engages all-wheel drive when the wipers are on, Sport mode is activated, the paddle shifters are used and/or when the ambient temperature drops below four degrees Celsius.
It also takes a grade into account — on steeper inclines, it automatically engages to do away with unwanted slippage, especially during a fast pull-away. The result is a seamless flow of power that sees the system shuttle the drive around in an invisible manner, which is the hallmark of a well-conceived system.
As for the numbers. the powertrain combination delivers the 300S sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds and returned a test average economy of 12.1 L/100 kilometres. Not the best economy, but reasonable given the 300’s size, mass and all-wheel-drive system.
When it comes to the cabin, the 300S tester was ringed with classy materials and had buttery smooth, heated and cooled Nappa leather seats with 12-way adjustment and Alcantara inserts, along with a neat feature — the ability to set the driver’s heated seat and steering wheel to warm automatically upon every start-up. It proved to be welcome, as it precluded manually activating the two on a cold morning by going into one of the menus in the infotainment.
It also features the smartest infotainment system in all of autodom — doing anything through Uconnect’s large icons required absolutely no owner’s manual consultation. Layer the system’s simple menus with a solid, 552-watt Beats sound system, and hammering down a twisty road with the tunes cranked became something to relish. At first blush, that’s not typically one’s first thought, but the 300S certainly proved itself.
For those relegated to the rear, fear not. There’s a ton of space and, as part of the Premium package, the 300S has heated outboard seating. The width accommodates a third rider, although the central tunnel does put a crimp in the foot space. One of the few nits to pick has to do with the trunk — for such a large car, the 462-litre capacity qualifies as so-so. By way of reference, the Honda Accord sedan has 473 litres.
It would be very easy to dismiss the Chrysler 300S as a somewhat dated throwback to an earlier automotive time. That would be dead wrong — it has the right levels of comfort and luxury, the handling is dialed in and the all-wheel-drive system means it’s more than a fair-weather drive. So much so, the atrocious weather during part of the test proved how valuable all-wheel-drive and proper winter tires are when the flurry reaches its despicable height!