Somewhere between full-size luxury sedan and full-on retromobile: That’s where the 2019 Chrysler 300 lies, and with each year that passes, the pastiche tilts more toward the latter.
The 2019 300 carries on with V-6 or V-8 power, automatic shifting, and rear- or all-wheel drive in satisfying measure. Easygoing big-car handling and a comfortable ride grant it a 6 here, though it’s starting to feel quite dated compared to the likes of the Kia Stinger and Genesis G80. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Most 300 sedans draw power from a 292-hp, 3.6-liter V-6, uprated to 300 hp in the 300S thanks to a cold-air intake and performance exhaust. (Numbers and letters, it all gets quite confusing.) The V-6 was a welcome arrival a half-dozen years ago, and it delivers fine power that suits the driving tasks most drivers will assign it. Two-lane passes come briskly and the V-6 has strong pull on the interstate, thanks to the pitch-perfect 8-speed automatic that sends power to the back or to all four wheels. Some driveline rumbles aside, it’s a well-matched powertrain for a mid-priced, premium four-door.
Still, we won’t be shocked by anyone that thinks of this bruiser with anything but a V-8 under the hood. The muscular-looking sedan offers up Chrysler’s 363-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 engine in 300S and 300C editions. Its 394 lb-ft of torque twist away behind a blatty, muscle-bound exhaust note, and rip off 0-60 mph runs of 5.8 seconds. The V-8’s a smooth, immensely powerful firehose from which the 300 sedan drinks without drowning, unlike the related Charger and Challenger Hellcats.
Opt for the V-8 and 300S sedans with the V-6, and the 8-speed automatic adopts shift paddles and a sport mode that retune shift and throttle maps for sharper response.
The 300’s all-wheel-drive system can be fitted only to V-6 models; it can disconnect its front axle to reduce rolling friction losses. Fuel economy still isn’t in the big leagues, not in a world of 39-mpg Accords.
Chrysler 300 ride and handling
Disarming and charming, the Chrysler 300’s ride and handling may technically belong to another era. But that’s like saying Sinatra still sounds good. Big, comfortable cars with body lean that tells something about cornering, and steering with plenty of feel, will always be timeless.
The 300’s a wayback machine, in those regards, especially on base models with their 17-inch wheels that feel positively retrograde at this point. Base 300s heave under acceleration and dive into braking, and for some of us, that’s a reassuring boatload of information not negated by electronic dampers or counter-leaning suspensions. Stable and confident, the Chrysler 300 never gets messy in the way it rolls predictably into and out of corners. It drives like a big domestic sedan should, in a communicative way few front-drive global-market sedans can manage.
The edgier handling of the the 300S leans more in the sport-sedan direction. It gets firmer bushings, quicker steering, stiffer springs, and bigger 20-inch summer tires; V-8s also get thicker anti-roll bars. It’s more taut and more composed, though it still leaves the hammering of the pavement to cars with lower-profile tires and less compliant suspensions. It’s a quick, fun-to-drive big car with just the right whiff of Detroit’s past.
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