2015 Chrysler 300 at a glance
BODY STYLE: full-size, four-door, five-passenger sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: rear- or all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 3.6 Pentastar 24-valve VVT V6 (292 hp, 300 hp in the 300S, 260 lb/ft of torque); 5.7-litre V8 (363 hp, 394 lb/ft or torque), both with an eight-speed automatic.
FUEL ECONOMY: 3.6L RWD 12.4/7.7 L/100 km city/highway; 3.6L AWD 12.8/8.6L/100 km; 5.7L RWD 14.8/9.3 L/100 km city/hwy, AWD N/A.
CARGO CAPACITY: 462 litres
TOW RATING: 454 kg (1,000 lb).
PRICE: $37,395 to $45,295 plus freight and PDI.
The 2015 Chrysler 300 ? bigger, bolder, better than ever
AUSTIN, TX: They say everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, so Austin, Texas was an appropriate venue for Chrysler to show off its full-size flagship sedan, the four-door, five-passenger 300.
Restyled for 2015, this is the second such re-do for the 300 since its introduction as a 2005 model.
While the full-size car market only accounts for about one per cent of all vehicle sales in Canada, the 300 nevertheless remains an important vehicle for the brand, part of the newly renamed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group.
So, while Chrysler sits a close second in overall vehicle sales in Canada for the year it dominates this segment with 44 per cent of the market when you put together sales of both the Charger and the 300.
In the U.S., the full-size sedan segment takes up a bigger share of the pie, making up four per cent of the market. That translates into quite significant numbers in comparison to the 4,000 unit sales that the 300 will do here in Canada during 2014.
And while the vehicle is important to Chrysler, it?s also very important to the Canadian economy as the 300 is built in Brampton alongside the Charger and Challenger models.
The 300 is a throwback to the big sedans that dominated the market during the ?60s.
In fact, it is one of the few rear-drive sedans (along with the Charger) still available as most have moved to front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is also available across all trim levels.
As editor of the newspaper in Brampton, I saw some of the first 300s come off the line at the local assembly plant back in 2004 and its ironic that the current styling is heading back in the same direction to a more edgy, boxy look that designers refer to as ?heritage styling?.
In the 2011 redesign, the exterior look was softened somewhat, but the sharper edges are back this time around with a lot of new features and an upgraded interior.
Most evident of the style changes for 2015 is a grille that is 33 per cent larger.
The Chrysler wing is front and centre, much like on the mid-size 200 sedan to give the 300 the all-new ?face of Chrysler? grille treatment.
Both front and rear fascias have been restyled with extensive use of LED lighting and standard dual exhaust with rectangular tips.
If you haven?t visited a Chrysler interior lately, now?s the time to do so with upgrades galore in the 300. Luxurious-looking quilted Nappa leather with hand-stitched finishes is available in upscale trim levels along with hand-sanded natural pore wood.
Like on the baby brother 200, a neat little rotary shift knob now sits on the centre console, taking up much less space than the previous shifter.
A high-tech seven-inch customizable in-cluster display unit with two round gauges sits directly in front of the driver behind the steering wheel. Another 8.4-inch full-colour touchscreen sits atop the centre console.
On the mechanical front, new this year is electric power steering with available sport mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The power trains are unchanged for 2015? the base engine is a 292 hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with a 363 hp 5.7-litre Hemi V8 optional. Both are mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Hemi is offered in RWD only.
For 2015, the Chrysler 300 comes in four trim levels, starting with the Touring FWD at $37,395.
Expected to be the volume leader in Canada is the sporty 300S ($40,095), while the upmarket 300C starts at $41,095) and the top-shelf 300C Platinum is $43,095. On all trims, all-wheel drive is a $2,200 premium.
My driving partner and I hopped into a 300C Platinum model for the test drive. It was outfitted with the optional 5.7-litre Hemi. Later in the day, we took out a 300S FWD with the V6.
The former, obviously, had more grunt and was more sumptuously outfitted, but the 300S has a sportier look.
Features include a black chrome exterior treatment with 20-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels and heated Nappa leather faced sport bucket seats. Other notable standard features are a Beats premium audio system, a performance suspension, Sport mode with paddle shifters, rear back up camera, and remote start.
The upmarket Platinum version, in contrast to black treatment on the S, makes extensive use of chrome on the mirrors, grille surround and door handles.
The cabin is also more polished and luxuriously outfitted with heated and cooled seats, two-toned steering wheel, dual-paned panoramic sunroof, premium leather trim throughout and even heated/cooled console cupholders up front.
On the safety side, Chrysler boasts of more than 70 standard or available safety features including seven airbags, electronic stability control with hill climb assist, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and a little-known feature called rain brake support.
This system, active when the windshield wipers are operating, periodically pushes the brake pads together against the brake rotors to keep them dry and ensure optimum stopping power in wet weather.
Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control (with full stop), lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, front and rear park assist with rearview camera and full-speed forward collision warning with active braking.
Absent at the launch was an SRT or Hellcat version, so those looking for higher performance are advised to look the Charger?s way.
Both versions of the 300 I experienced were exceptional highway cruisers and competent on secondary roads as well? they soak up the bumps and potholes with aplomb and the cabin is quiet and extremely comfortable.
Perhaps it?s a testament to my age, but I could live with this car quite nicely, particularly in Platinum dress.
It?s big, bold and brassy with better-than-average road manners, while boasting a plush, quiet interior with all the techno-goodies one expects in this day and age at a price under the $50K mark.
The Chrysler 300 arrives at dealers in the first quarter of 2015.