2018 Chrysler 300

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2018 Chrysler 300C
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The B52 bomber has been around a long time. Most of them are older than the pilots who fly them. This tells you something about the soundness of their design.

Same goes for the Chrysler 300.

In car terms, it’s ancient.

The current 300 hasn’t been significantly updated since 2011 – almost eight years ago (that’s effectively two “product cycles,” to use car industry jargon) and its underthings – the basic chassis – date all the way back to turn of the century.

That’s old enough to drink beer in some states – and vote in all of them.

And yet, it survives – and thrives.

Chrysler may be in trouble – its only other “car” being a minivan – and its parent company, Fiat, is noncommittal about the future of the brand. But the 300 continues to sell well, despite its age and notwithstanding that it’s a sedan, a type of car that everyone else is having trouble selling. Even Toyota and Honda.

So, what’s the Magic Recipe?

WHAT IT IS

The 300 is Chrysler’s only remaining car – and one of only two full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedans you can still buy for less than $30,000. The other one being the 300’s Dodge-suited cousin, the Charger.   

It’s also one of the few remaining sedans in this class/price range that comes standard with a V6; most of the cars in this class don’t even offer one anymore.

And it’s the only one in this class – and the next class up – that still offers a V8.

A big V8.

You can also get all-wheel-drive, which many buyers want (witness the popularity of AWD crossovers) but for some strange reason almost no mid-priced sedans offer  (Ford having announced it will stop making the Taurus and Fusion) and no mid-priced full-size sedans whatsoever offer.

Base price is $28,995 for the Touring trim with 3.6 liter V6 and rear-wheel-drive; you can upgrade to all-wheel-drive for $31,495.

The S trim – which starts $36,295 – is available with Chrysler’s 5.7 liter Hemi V8 (a $3,000 stand-alone option).

A top-of-the-line 300C – which comes standard with the V8 – stickers for $40,995.

The next-closest thing to the 300 that’s comparably priced is probably the Toyota Avalon, which is about the same size and is the only other sedan in this class besides the Charger which comes standard with a V6. But the Avalon is front-wheel-drive, does not offer AWD – and forget a V8.

You might also want to have a look at the Chevy Impala – which is also a big car and very roomy inside, like the 300 and Avalon. But it comes standard with a four – and also doesn’t offer AWD or a V8.

After that, there’s not much – unless you move way up – to a Genesis or Lexus. Or all the way up – to an S Benz or 7 BMW, which are among the few big sedans still available with a V8 at any price.

WHAT’S NEW

2018 sees few changes other than the V8 now being restricted to the S and the C trims; the Touring and Limited trims now come only with the V6.

WHAT’S GOOD

A thumb in the eye of political correctness – for as long as Chrysler can get away with it.

Huge back seat (40.1 inches of legroom).

Huge trunk (16.3 cubic feet).

Available all-wheel-drive.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

V8 limited to more expensive trims.

AWD only available with the V6.

Chrysler’s future is in the hands of Fiat.

UNDER THE HOOD

Someone at Fiat – which owns Chrysler – ought to take notice of the fact that the 300 is one of the few sedans that’s still selling briskly, despite being “old.” And then ask why.

The answer lies under the hood.

Instead of yet another downsized turbo four – these engines are sprouting like dandelions after a summer rainstorm but it’s not a natural occurrence – the 300 comes standard with an engine that’s twice as big (almost) as most of those.

And so doesn’t need a turbo to crutch what would otherwise be gimpy performance.

The broad-shouldered Chrysler comes standard with a 3.6 liter V6 making 292 hp (300, in the S – which gets a free-flowing exhaust) vs. the legion of 2.0 liter fours making in the 240-ish ballpark that you’ll find in almost everything (even some mid-sized luxury sedans, like the current BMW 5 and the Benz E) as other car companies prostrate themselves, like court eunuchs in ancient China, before the EPA and its high-pitched jabbering about fuel economy no-matter-what (and no matter what it costs)

Like the admirably insolent honey badger, Chrysler doesn’t seem to give much of a damn about the EPA – hooray! – and continues to build cars desired by the people who buy its cars, as opposed to government regulators, who do not.

The 300’s big V6 makes power the natural way – without boost – and is a simpler and so less expensive engine. The turbo fours attempt to make up for the lost performance of no-more-six-cylinders via the expedient of force-feeding, but they do so by perversely adding expense to the engine for the sake of saving gas.

And despite all the jabber, they don’t save that much gas vs. no-turbos V6s, either.

The V6-powered 300 with rear-drive (another feature that explains the car’s perennial popularity) rates 19 city, 30 highway. With the available all-wheel-drive system that  dips – just slightly – to 18 city, 27 highway.

Which is not bad at all.

For reference, the V6 powered (and front-drive- only) Toyota Avalon – which is lighter by almost 500 pounds – only manages 21 city, 30 highway. And its 3.5 liter V6 only makes 268 hp.

Then there’s the Chevy Impala – the other size-equivalent (and price comparable) cross-shop. Its standard 2.5 liter four (a big four, by today’s downsized-engine standards) underwhelms with an EPA rating of just 22 city, 30 highway – despite being two cylinder shy and 30 percent smaller, in terms of displacement, than the 300’s 3.6 liter V6. The Chevy’s four is also pathetically weak. Just 197 hp (100 fewer hp than the 300’s V6). No surprise, the four cylinder Impala is slow as well as thirsty.

It needs a rheumatic 8-plus seconds to get to 60 – vs. a speedy 6.3 seconds for the 300.

No wonder the Impala will soon sleep with the fishes.

The V6 Avalon is comparably quick but it has nothing to answer the 300’s optional engine, the 5.7 liter Hemi V8. This one ups the underhood ante to 363 hp and 394 ft.-lbs. of torque, which is unanswerable in this class – unless you buy the 300’s cousin, the Dodge Charger.

Otherwise – as we say in Jersey – forget about it.

The big bicep’d Hemi hauls the 300’s 4,000-plus pounds to 60 in about 5 seconds flat and delivers the reassuring V8 rumble of America’s great days that nothing powered by a turbo four, however quick, will ever be able to reproduce.

The V8 isn’t even particularly thirsty: 16 city, 25 highway. That’s only 5 MPG less in the city (and on the highway) than the Avalon’s V6, which doesn’t make 363 hp or get the Toyota to 60 in five flat.

Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic, with normal (D) and sport (S) modes, which can be selected via the drive-by-wire rotary control knob located on the center console. The S and C trims also get steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, to allow manual gear selection.

ON THE ROAD

The deciders over at Fiat ought to take a 300 home for a long weekend – to allow the reasons for its ongoing appeal  to really soak in. To grok why this car deserves to live and – by dint of that, Chrysler, too.

It’s not just the big V6 – and the bigger V8.

It’s the big wheelbase – 120.2 inches – which gives the 300 an unmatched big car ride. Unmatched, at least, unless you’re willing (and able) to spend $60,000-plus to get into something similarly long-wheelbased and rear-wheel-drive from Benz or BMW or Lexus, etc.

Which isn’t just coincidental.

For those who do not know the history, the 300 traces its lineage to the Mercedes E and S, from which it borrowed design and mechanicals (this was back when it was DaimlerChrysler, before it became FiatChrysler) including chassis and suspension pieces and that’s why it is uniquely a big luxury car in a way that only much-more-expensive luxury-brand sedans are.

The Avalon, for example, rides on a much shorter (111 inch) wheelbase, despite being about the same overall length. Because it descends from the Camry. Not that there is anything wrong with the Camry. But it’s not the same thing as descending from a Benz.

Similarly the Chevy Impala. Its wheelbase is just 111.7 inches, despite it being longer overall than the 300. Like the Avalon, the Chevy is fundamentally a downsized car – and not just under the hood.

Startlingly – appealingly – the Chrysler 300 is longer-wheelbased than the current Mercedes E sedan (115.7 inches) and not-far-behind the Mercedes S-Class sedan (124.6 inches) and that car is a six figure luxury car.

Why harp on wheelbase? Because – like a big engine – there is no substitute, if you want to experience that large-living boulevard ride which was once the birthright of average Americans but which has become (thanks to the EPA and the eunuch genuflecting of most car companies) mostly for the rich only.

Except here.

Same goes for the brawny engines. There is something very satisfying about it. Especially when you roll up beside a 5 Series BMW or Mercedes E and know you’ve got more engine than he’s got. And that he paid $20k more than you did.

Even more satisfying when you roll up beside a guy driving his four-cylinder/front-wheel-drive homogenized milk carton on wheels that cost about the same as what you’re driving.

Fiat really ought to think hard about this.

The politically correct orthodoxy also assured us that Hillary was inevitable. But people wanted Trump. And here he is. You don’t have to like it. Some people hate it. But it is a fact, regardless. So also the love for this big lug of a car, notwithstanding that it is eight years older – and really 18 years older – than the current/brand-new Toyota/Honda sedans, which are suffering sales ED for the first time in their histories.

Could it be on account of the fact that people – the ones not in Washington and not pontificating on CNN – continue to prefer bigger, both under the hood and otherwise? No matter what their nudge-in-the-ribs “betters” in DC and New York think they ought to prefer?

AT THE CURB

The bigness continues in the back – and in the trunk. The 300 has 40.1 inches of second row legroom (39.2 in the Avalon) and a 16.3 cubic foot trunk. The mid-sized sedans which are not selling well anymore have tight back seats and small trunks – and are depressingly downsized under their hoods.

Why not buy a crossover?

They’re also, for the most part, boring to look at – more homogenized than a quart of store-bought milk – while the 300 is as bold as a Cuban expresso first thing in the morning. There is no mistaking its confident letterman swagger for anything else with four doors – except its brother from the same mother, the Dodge Charger. These are – dare it be said? – manly cars.

American cars.

It’s not just the big engines and the big room. It’s the big personality. There’s precious little of that available anymore. Which is why the 300 continues to sell, despite its age.

A good thing never gets old.

Think about it. A basic shape – and sheetmetal – which hasn’t changed much since 2011. Same basic interior layout, too. And people still buy it. Sales go up – while the sales of brand-new sedans (EPA eunuch-approved) like the Accord and Camry (and the Avalon, which is a stretched Camry) are tepid or even down vs. last year’s old models.

Hello? Sergio?

This is not just a big – and big-engined car, either. It isa  heavy car. The best saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety feature of all. The lightest version – with the V6 and rear-drive – weighs almost 500 pounds more than the heaviest Avalon (4,013 vs. 3538, respectively). With the V8, that rises to more than 700 pounds.

Pity the fool who jousts with the 300 – unless he’s in a Tahoe.

THE REST

Imagine a Hellcat version of this thing.

With all-wheel-drive.

The Charger/Challenger Hellcats are rear-drive; but the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk pairs the supercharged 707 horsepower Hemi with AWD. So, the equipment is available. Now picture that in a big sedan that weighs 1,000 lbs. less than a Grand Cherokee.

Such a combo would be even more politically incorrect than the cheery 300 already is and also present an embarrassing situation for AMG Benzes and BMW Ms – which is exactly what Chrysler needs right now.

But what Chrysler need most of all is your support – before Fiat decides to pull the plug on what is not only one of America’s great brands but the only brand still building cars with balls for regular Americans. People who want big engines, in big vehicles – packaged boldly.

But not priced out of their reach.

Fiat has the rear-drive architecture to update the 300 without transforming it into another FWD-based Avalon-Impala thing. The worrisome thing is that it looks like Fiat is going to abandon Chrysler – probably out of fear of Uncle’s fuel economy fatwas, which are the reason why the 300 (and the Charger) are the last of their breed, everyone else having cried Uncle.

THE BOTTOM LINE

This may be it.

Act while you still have time.

. . .

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19 COMMENTS

  1. The 300 was refreshed in 2015….There is no Mercedes parts left on the car,since 2011..No seat frames,turn signal stalks and rear suspension design….

    I owned a few of these and these are reliable cars,196,000 miles on my 2005 5.7 Hemi that my Nephew has owned for 7 years !!!! No major issues either,never on a tow truck !!

    We currently own a 2017 Chrysler 300 S 5.7 Hemi 8 speed and 33 mpg highway on our last trip..100% reliable,no issues and 24,000 miles so far…

    My In-Laws bought a 2018 Chrysler 300 Touring all wheel drive with the 3.6 and they love it,previous Toyota Camry owners !!!!

    Great cars,I wish Chrysler would advertise these as people dont know you can get all wheel drive with them and 30 plus mpg highway and 28 average if you drive normally,open it up and obviously less..Plus a beautiful powerful Hemi V8 and the Chrysler 300 has won many reliability awards !!!

  2. I picked up a 2016 V6 Limited last year and am very happy with it. I like the V6/8 speed/RWD drivetrain and bold style. It really does get 30+ mpg on the highway. It’s very well equipped, yet doesn’t have all the nanny nag technology. I got it with 12k miles yet it cost me about the same as a basic Camry/Accord. Most of all I like that it’s a big middle finger to the EPA!

  3. I am thinking about getting a 300 or a Charger, but I want reliability. Therefore, I’m angling towards a Lexus LS 430 (2001-06). Those cars are bullet proof, vault like quiet and fast. Just what I need to tackle America’s broken highway system.

    • Chrysler 300 has won many reliability and owner satisfaction awards…Our 2005 has 197,000 miles on it and our Nephew has been driving it for the last 7 years !!! Our 2013 was problem free 155,000 miles,our 2017 problem free 24,000 miles..We dont baby them either,we use the power of the Hemi daily !!

      We know Construction Owners with Hemi Dodge RAM trucks with 300,000 miles on them !!! And they keep on going,dont believe the American car unreliable hype,its nonsense !! Why are there so many 10 year old Toyota’s in the junk yard with no damage…if they were so good they would all be on the road !

  4. A Passat with the VR6, not only fun to drive but the one I TSI rented got <40MPG on my trip with 3 others and no one complained about the back seat room and all our luggage fit in the trunk. The VR6 was my particular fetish, doesn't do 40+ but it does mid 30's and I am NOT a clover rest assured of that. I believe in keeping ghe carbon blown out with a heavy foot.

    • A 300 with a Hemi does 33 mpg on the highway with 3 people and I opened up the Hemi a few times..

      We drove my In Laws 2018 300 all wheel drive 3.6 V6 that has the same performance as the VR6 but the 300 is bigger,heavier…We got 34 mpg in the Winter !!!

  5. I just saw this on GMI, and it shows no Chrysler’s for 2022. Looks like the 300 replacement is the Gulia MCA + LWB, whatever that is. If it’s the same width as the current Gulia, then probably too narrow for my likes. Which BTW was my problem with my ATS, just too narrow.

    Not sure if I’m allowed to do this, but Eric can take it down if needed:
    http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f12/update-fca-5-year-plan-jeep-ram-get-focus-more-follow-288283/index2.html

    • 5 year plan never shown every model or make…Chrysler has new cuv/suv’s coming and as of last week the 300 ma or not be made after 2020…Its still up in the air,but Chrysler isnt dead..Dodge will have a new Charger and Challenger in 2021 !! Geberal Motors Inside News isnt a Chrysler site fYI !!

  6. Gee, if I had the money you could almost talk me into buying one of these!

    I’d be fine with the V6 and RWD, so 30 mpg in a Real Car is pretty tempting compared to a 30 mpg rough riding econo-box. But can’t really justify it for just a couple road trips per year, and it would mostly just sit while we drive our old 4x4s on our local back roads.

    I don’t get the AWD option ???? RWD will get you around just fine most of the time, and $100 buys a set of tire chains for the rest. Out here where we live on muddy roads, a low slung AWD would just get all tore up underneath in the muddy ruts. That’s why we have the old tall jeeps and pickups. Even the IFS 4×4 pickups are vulnerable because of the front axle boots.

    I dunno … maybe the 300/Charger would survive pretty well on the back roads with the solid RWD axle ???

    • Depends where you live !! The all wheel drive is a wonder…It goes in deep snow,like any 4×4 truck..But again,if you live where its flat then you can get away with rear drive and snow tires and weight in the trunk,then you can get around o.k…But the awd you can drive up ice/snow covered hills and deep snow..Drive in the Rockies and go to Cabins in Colorado in the Winter with no issues !!

      Drive a awd in the snow,then a rear drive one you will change your mind,trust me…We own a2017 300 S rear drive with a 5.7 Hemi,my in laws bought a 2018 300 awd,last winter we went to our Cabin in Colorado in the Winter,up the Rockies in the snow/ice and zero issues !!

  7. I’ve said all this before on EPautos, but it’s worth repeating since the 300 got it’s own review.

    I’ve owned almost all platforms from GM since the 80’s. Had tons of Honda’s, etc… my favorite GM’s were the Impalla SS (95?), and the 90’s Park Ave Ultra (V6 supercharged). Best trucks were probably the ’97 1500, and the ’02 1500HD 6.0. Since around ’06’ish GM went on a adjust everything for mpg rampage, and the cars/ trucks suffered major drive-ability problems with short shifting, no downshifting, etc….. My current ’14 1500 6.2 6sp is pretty good and they fixed the shifting problems probably because of the ‘new’ direct injected enignes better mpg allowed them to tune the trans better. But overall I’m pretty disappointed in GM’s direction.

    So I said I’m tired of trucks and went to look for a RWD car. Because I was GM brain dead I got a CPO ATS-RWD-2.0T-stick for fun, and wow did I have fun and like driving again. Great car, it just ended up being too small for long trips and after my renewed love for RWD came back, I went looking. Of course I went to my great Caddy/GMC dealer and drove the CT6 3.oTT. Liked it alot but I could’t get RWD-only. Dumb on GM’s part, but I walked. I reluctantly stopped in the Chrysler dealer. I’ve never owned a Chrysler, other than my daughters Jeep which I was not too fond of. I again asked if I could drive a V8 RWD. “no we don’t stock those”. So I started looked at MB, Audi, etc… and ALL of them come AWD only, or at least that’s all the dealers had. I had driven a 2014? 300 V8 before and was not too impressed with how it performed. The Chrysler dealer called me back “hey, our CFO drives the car you are interested in and he’ll let your drive it” One drive later and I was hooked. I can only surmised that the 8sp (since ’15?) and the ‘sport’ button are what made the difference for me. And I was able to order it ‘my way’, with no roof, etc… It came in 4 weeks last Sept. (42K?), and after 10K miles, I can now say it my favorite car/vehicle of all time. And I know all the potential quality/reliability issues, and I don’t care. I love it that much, I can handle the occasional ‘issues’ if need be. I buy full warranties for as long as I own them. I makes me happy every time I drive it. So much so, that I got my daughter our of her Jeep and into a Charger V6 AWD.

    All my friends comment positively about the car, and some are saying they will buy it next car. Alot have questioned the RWD aspect, and I drove it all last winter with no trouble in lots of snow storms. Just have to know what your doing.

    I am hoping the FCA decides to upgrade them and keep the triplets (300/Charger/Challenger) going past their expected drop date of 20-21 when the Brampton, Ont. plant’s Union contract expires, but who knows. I will buy the last one out the door though, unless FCA or anyone else comes out with a RWD-only V8, highly doubtful. If it is the last of the breed I will warranty it to the moon, and deal with the issue much later.

    Thanks for the write-up Eric, I hope they start selling better and FCA questions things.

    • I also have a thing for the 94-96 SS, they’re all very expensive though. That will probably be the case for the chargers and 300s, at least to a degree, 25 years from now. Enjoy the car and try to keep it around that long.

  8. Frankly its really the only new car (well actually the Charger) that interests me anymore as a daily driver. If I had the money, this is what I would be buying. I hope I can get one before they go away.

    • Hi Rich,

      Ditto. Another reason to like it: You can do a burnout. The computer doesn’t prevent you from power braking it for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – as many new cars do.

  9. Agree that if you want one, now is the time to buy it.

    I think I saw that Chrysler produced 180k cars in total last year. For the NAFTA region, FCA reported 560k vehicles, but that includes Jeep & Fiat:

    https://www.fcagroup.com/en-US/investors/events/quarterly_results_presentations/FCA_2017_FY_and_Q4_Results_Presentation.pdf

    I bet FCA is asking themselves “Is there a market niche that small that we can fill with a Chrysler product?”

    My bet is that the Pacifica becomes a Dodge by the end of the year, and Chrysler is sent to “live on the farm”

    • Hi Chip,

      It’s such a shame. It occurs to me that the death (if it comes) of Chrysler will be not unlike the gelding of VW. Two car companies that produced cars anti the Agenda. And that could not be abided.

      PS: If the 300 goes, I think so does the Charger. And if the Charger goes, what happens to Dodge?

      • I think the Charger/Challenger sell enough vehicles to individuals (and the po-po) that they can afford to do a platform redesign. Will they go so far as to include a new 300 in that work? Not in today’s SUV-happy market.

        Here’s a wacky idea – assume they have had an internal design team working on it for years now – it’d be interesting if they came out with a unibody Durango before Ford brings the Bronco to market.

        After all, it doesn’t *actually* have to go off-road. Just look like it could. Because today’s SUV buyers will seldom leave the pavement.

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