Just a suspension tweak away from being sporty
The 300 S, in both RWD and AWD variants, is a popular choice at all the rental counters due to spacious interior, 300hp engine, and smooth 8-speed transmission. This 300 S model comes in at about $38,000. An optioned out 300 C with a 363 hp V-8 Hemi can easily eclipse a $50,000 out the door total.
The 3.6L VVT engine was ready to go especially in Sport Mode (by selecting “S” on the gear selector) making the throttle incredibly sensitive. The same engine has been around since the 2011 model year and can be found in many of Chrysler’s lineup including the Wrangler, RAM 1500, Challenger, Charger, and Grand Cherokee.
I like the new trend of tiered glove boxes. I’d love a separate top shelf in my TL for the frequently used gas & maintenance log I write-in every time I fuel up or get maintenance done. But then again, maybe I just need to thin out the clutter. It’s a fine line.
I really like the ergonomics, even though there’s so many shared parts with every other Chrysler/RAM on the market today. I’d expect more high end trim pieces in the upper echelon “S” version. A few carbon fiber inlay pieces would do miracles for first impressions.
When given choices of vehicles on hand, the most frequent question from renters is “which car has more trunk space”. The default answer for this has always been the 300, beating out the Avalon, XTS, Q50 and Lacrosse or so I thought. The 300 has shrunk from 17.2 in 2008 to 16.3 cubic feet today , the current Avalon almost 16.1, but XTS will be the new recommendation at 18 cubic feet. The beats subwoofer in the trunk takes up noticeable space, but the output is so incredible, I think most people will over look it.
The analog clock is a classy touch, but pretty useless in anything but perfect lighting. Useless AND pointless considering there’s a digital clock about an inch below. Like the stellar Bang & Olufsen stereo in the Ford Edge of last week, beats logos only appear on the speakers and subwoofer. The 11-speaker beats system didn’t have the hi-mid-low clarity of the Bang & Olufsen in the Edge, but it could pump out the bass like no rental I’ve been in to date. The HVAC controls were instantly intuitive at a quick glance.
No shortage of comfort in the back seat, although leg room was surprisingly short for a 4200lb sedan.
With the exception of the LED taillights on all trim levels and spoilers on some, the rear end has changed very little since the reappearance of the 300 in 2005.
The front end hasn’t changed much either, but the contrasting black grille and chrome Chrysler logo looks incredible against the Granite Crystal paint.
The dashboard was well done with many options to choose from in the center LED screen. The EPA says fuel economy is 19 city / 30 highway. I was pretty nice to the accelerator and couldn’t get it above 24 even while cruising at a steady 65mph. Watching the tachometer needle spike at the speed of light while in sport mode was entertaining, but I didn’t leave it on there for long. I think the 300S is capable of burying the speedometer needle well past 140mph, but I can’t test my gut feeling firsthand anywhere around here.
Would I rent a 300 again? Sure.
Would I be excited about it and tell the world? Not really. I think that may be due to a slight identity crisis. If the suspension was a little stiffer and cornering was a little tighter, this could be called a viable sports sedan as the stunning 20″ wheels would imply. Then again, if the suspension was a little softer, it could rival or even win out over the multi-state touring capabilities of the XTS.
I’m more curious now than ever about an upcoming Avalon comparison.
85 out of 100
75 out of 100
90 out of 100
70 out of 100
65 out of 100 – EPA figures seem very generous
90 out of 100 – comparable ride to the much more expensive XTS
65 out of 100
RECOMMEND TO RENT:
70 out of 100 – toss-up between a XTS and 300.
RECOMMEND TO BUY
25 out of 100 – engines aren’t known for longevity and values plummet past 150K miles.