Review: 2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum
The full-size sedan segment has enjoyed something of a renaissance over the last few years, and that surge in popularity can be traced back to Chrysler’s re-boot of its 300 series back in 2005.
When it first hit the scene a decade ago, there was nothing else quite like the Chrysler 300 on the market. Combining bold styling, rear-wheel drive and an available V8, the 300 was a throwback to the heydays of the big American sedan. Fast-forward to today and there’s still nothing else quite like it, but the 300 helped spawn other full-size alternatives like the Hyundai Genesis and Ford’s latest Taurus.
Keeping an eye on the past while still moving forward, Chrysler has updated the 300 for 2015 with refined styling and a much needed eight-speed auto on V8-equipped models. So, is the Chrysler 300 still the daddy in the full-size segment or has it been passed by the competition? Come with us as we find out.
What is it?
The 2015 Chrysler 300 is the quintessential American four-door.
Like the 2005 “original,” the 2015 sports a classic three-box shape with a blocky front end and slab sides. Under that throw-back styling resides the same basic LX platform that dates back to the car’s 2005 introduction. The 300 comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available as an optional extra. There is one caveat to that, however; for 2015 Chrysler has dropped the pairing of AWD with the 300’s V8, so you have to get the V6 if you want all-weather traction.
The 300 is available in four different trim levels for 2015 — buyers can choose between the entry-level Limited, sport-oriented S, up-scale C and, as seen here, the full-boat C Platinum.
What’s it up against?
In addition to the previously mentioned Hyundai Genesis and Ford Taurus, the 300 also mixes it up with the Chevrolet Impala and Nissan Maxima. Shoppers might also take a look at softer rides like the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, as well as sportier options like the Chevrolet SS and the 300’s kissing cousin, the Dodge Charger.
What’s it look like?
A lot like the outgoing model, if we’re honest. Those not in-the-know could easily mistake the 2015 300 for the model that has been on sale since 2011.
Although changes aren’t readily apparent, there have been some design tweaks for the new model year. At the front, the 300 has been given a larger radiator grille that now incorporates Chrysler’s winged logo. Headlights have been slightly revised with amber side markers moving to the car’s fenders. LED foglight with a metal surround are now integrated into the 300’s restyled lower bumper.
Changes to the rear of the 300 are also minimal, with reshaped LED taillights and new-look exhaust outlets hailing as the most significant updates.
Overall, the 300 remains a handsome vehicle that still carries a certain attitude where ever it goes. Call it a je ne sais quoi.
However, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the 300’s styling hasn’t changed much over the last four years. We’re not saying the design is completely stale just yet, but it’s starting to get a little crispy around the edges.
And on the inside?
The inside of the 2015 300 is the same story as its exterior – different, but not in a radical way.
For 2015 the 300 has been treated to a new steering wheel that can be finished in an up-scale two-tone color scheme, as seen on our tester. Behind resides a 7-inch configurable LCD screen flanked by traditional dials for revs and speed. Turn on the lights and the entire cluster glows in the kind of blue ambient lighting that you might find inside a swanky LA sushi bar.
The 300’s 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is carryover, but you’ll find a few more apps on this year’s version, including one that lets you remotely start your vehicle from a smartphone. For those that just have to stay connected, the 300 also acts as a WiFi hotspot.
In the past we’ve praised Chrysler’s Uconnect for being so simple that even we can use it without the help of a teenager, and the unit in our test car didn’t do anything to sway us from that position. Pairing our smartphone was a snap and the menus are laid out in a logical manner.
Just below the 300’s climate controls have been given a makeover with a more aesthetically pleasing design. Note the inclusion of a new Sport button and (gasp) the removal of a CD slot.
Last year’s joystick gear lever has been replaced with a rotary dial similar to the unit seen in the Chrysler 200. However, unlike the 200, Chrysler hasn’t taken advantage of the shift-by-wire design with extra storage below. During our time with the 300 we found the dial to be somewhat laggy in its gear selection and also fussy to use. Dear engineers and designers, please bring back the gear lever and get off my lawn.
Our Platinum test car was lavishly equipped with just about every bell and whistle you could imagine. Reading more like a spec sheet from a flagship German luxury car, our 300’s Monroney included adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, heated and cooled cupholders, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade and a pair of USB outlets for rear seat passengers.
Our test car also looked the part with two-toned Indigo and Linen quilted leather upholstery, leather-covered dash (or at least it looked like leather) with double stitching and open-pore wood and brushed aluminum accents.
For all intents and purposes the 300 C Platinum is a luxury car, but it somehow lacks the intangible feeling of a premium vehicle. Imagine the 300 as low fat ice-cream — yes it ticks all the right boxes like chocolate chips and chunks of cookie dough, but it’s just not quite as satisfying as the real thing
But does it go?
Only about 15 percent of 300 buyers opt for Chrysler’s 5.7L HEMI V8, but that small percentage clearly knows what they’re doing.
Now paired with Chrysler’s eight-speed auto, the 300’s optional 363 horsepower, 394 lb-ft of torque V8 makes for an enjoyable driving experience. The 300 has plenty of grunt down low and the eight-speed ensures the pushrod V8 never runs out of puff. Our only real complaint was a gas pedal that seemed just a tad too sensitive on tip in.
The 300’s new electronic power steering is a little light for our taste, but in line with the rest of the segment. The Sport button does add more steering weight, but we found it to be artificial feeling and not of much benefit.
The 300’s suspension is comfortable but never came across as floaty. Even with out tester’s 20-inch wheels, road noise was kept at bay. Ditto for wind noise.
The 300 is not a sports car, but don’t tell it that. On twisty roads the 300 flashed more athletic ability than we were expecting from a vehicle weighing north of two tons. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and the 300’s S transmission setting, which allows you to hold gears for as long as you want, only add to the experience.
The downside of that sporting ability is fuel economy. While the EPA says you can hit 31 mpg in the 300 V6, V8 model are only rated for 25 mpg on the highway. We averaged in the upper teens during our week-long evaluation. Oh, and the V8 tacks on $3,000 to the 300’s asking price.
Leftlane‘s bottom line
The last vestige of the classic American big car, there is just something charming about the 2015 Chrysler 300. Combine that with improved styling, a new eight-speed for the V8 and a long list of available features and the 300 makes for a compelling package.
The 300 feels a step behind the Hyundai Genesis in terms of luxury appointments, but it remains a solid choice in the full-size segment.
2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum base price, $42,395. As tested, $51,175.
Ivory tri-coat pearl exterior paint, $500; Light group, $895; Safety Tec 1, $1,695; Safety Tec 2, $1,695; 5.7L V8, $3,000; Destination, $995.
Photos by Drew Johnson.
Review: 2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum Reviewed by Drew Johnson on June 16 Chrysler’s 300 sedan gets a nip/tuck for 2015. Rating: 3.5