2015 Chrysler 300 V-8 Review

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Quick! Name an American, rear-drive, V-8–powered, full-size sedan. If you said, “Chrysler 300,” you’re only 15 percent right, because that’s the proportion of 300 buyers who actually opt for the V-8. The rest decide that the V-6 will suffice, a strong indicator that while the model name may be rooted in a high-performance heritage, the car sells mostly on its styling, size, and value. All the same, the V-8 is key to the car’s image so that’s the version we sought out first—in both the 300C and sportier 300S trims—to sample on roads in and around Austin, Texas.

A decade after Ralph Gilles’s design for the 2005 model caused an industry sensation, the 300 has been revamped a second time, with new nose and tail treatments featuring redesigned lights and a 32-percent larger grille, a fresh interior, and an eight-speed automatic operated by a rotary dial on the console. The EPA combined fuel-economy rating goes up 1 mpg to 19 (16/25 mpg city/highway) with the new transmission, the quicker shifting of which Chrysler says will also improve performance even though the engine is unchanged.

The 300 got a thorough redo in 2011, but for 2015 it gets no new sheetmetal, unlike its platform-mate, the Dodge Charger. It does add another trim level, the 300C Platinum. The C, S, and C Platinum all offer the V-8 as an option but the engine is not available on the base Limited, adding a perhaps-unintended layer of meaning to that version’s name.

Checking the option box for the 5.7-liter V-8 costs $3000, which gets you not only the 363-hp Hemi, but also bigger brakes (with dual- rather than single-piston calipers up front and ventilated rather than solid rotors in back) and a 160-mph speedometer. The 300S also gains a decklid spoiler, while C and Platinum trim levels get the paddle shifters that come standard on any S. This year, the V-8 can no longer be paired with all-wheel drive, owing to that combo’s abysmal take rate; evidently, people who already commit $2500 extra for AWD are disinclined to throw another three grand at the lump under the hood. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by KEVIN A. WILSON

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