Stick Shift: 2016 Chrysler 300

The new 2016 Chrysler 300S has arrived, bringing all the right stuff to be the perfectly balanced, quintessential American vehicle of the 21st century. Rear-wheel drive, check. Hemi powered V8, check. Blocky bold styling and a stretched wheel base, check and check. This large, almost but still not quite luxury sedan is fresh off a sizable redesign in 2015. Today, it’s better than ever.
The new exterior form is easily my favorite look yet, there’s a squared off profile, visually commanding grill, muscular proportions and stunning 20” aluminum hyper black wheels that flare out. The tail lamps are darkened as well and full of LED’s. All that dark trim, rims and lighting looks beautiful contrasted against the bright white paint, creating a product that’s sure to turn heads. All this while still staying true to the core aesthetic that has made the Chrysler 300 recognizable since its introduction in 2005.
Climb inside and you’ll appreciate an airy cabin thanks to the dual-pane panoramic sunroof. There’s leg and headroom aplenty, and the driver and passenger seats are very American, which is to say wide, large, supportive and adjustable in every conceivable direction. Still, they don’t quite capture the road trip comfort of a Lexus. The star of the show is the 8.4″ touchscreen infotainment system. Logically positioned front and center with a Uconnect control interface, it is easy to use thanks to large icons, with fast reaction times due to a strong processor.

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Though the 300S still falls short of most European luxury auto brands, materials are above average in quality. With the exception of overly texturized dash plastics that only seem good at attracting dust, I though the leather clad 300S interior was sporty and sharp. Black and ambassador blue leather make up the overall color theme and are held together with white stitching. Most enjoyable is a 552-watt 10-speaker premium audio system courtesy of Beats. Complete with a subwoofer in the trunk of course.
Helping the new Chrysler 300S dominate the road is a 5.7-liter Hemi powered V8. All grunt and gusto, scooting the 300 from a dead stop to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. Power delivery is as smooth and even as one would expect in a car that’s always tried to sell itself as a luxury option. This big V8 is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s controlled via a rotary knob mounted to the center console. Gearing is perfectly aggressive for highway overtaking, and the engine seems more comfortable propelling an already moving 300S along, rather than trying to get one going from a stand still.
As any highway luxury cruiser should be, the cabin is comfortable and quite. The 300S feels planted to the road and comes equipped with suspension that’s soft enough to soak up most road imperfections. Though my sportier S model, with stiffer springs, snappier steering, better tires and bigger anti-roll bars didn’t feel quite as compliant when the road conditions worsened. The rear bench seat offers more leg room than most competitors in this segment like the Toyota Avalon or Chevy Impala, and trunk space is right on par with what you’d expect.
So you’re spine may feel an extra pothole or two, the trade off is well worth it. When the road goes from highway straight to wild and windy, you’ll be grateful for the S model with its available ‘Sport’ mode. In this setting you’ll enjoy better accelerator behavior, uninterrupted use of the paddle shifters, more aggressive gearing and an engine that holds rpm’s higher and longer. The Chrysler 300S is ultimately a big car, and you’ll feel its size as the road wraps and winds itself around the American countryside. Even still, the 300 always maintained a level of composure for me. It’s confident and stable all the way to its upper most limits. Just don’t get too carried away. It’s good for what it is, but it’s not trying to replace the 911.

The Chrysler 300 has become a part of classic Americana, taking the side of a comfortable, solid highway cruiser over anything else. If that’s what you’re after, combined with space, power, bold styling that exudes a measure of swagger, enough drivable fun to get your heart racing, and all at a fairly reasonable price, than this just might be the car for you.

Price as tested: $42,855

By: Brandon Randall 

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