Just before Christmas, Chrysler gave the automotive media a first drive of their refreshed 2015 Chrysler 300 in Austin, Texas. Chrysler suggests that their refreshed 300 has a new swagger, but we think it is more a case of having a fresh swagger along with some new flavor of the Motown ‘MOJO’ which made it so popular to start with when the 300 was reinvented back in 2005.
2015 Chrysler 300 lineup
There are four models available for 2015 with a range of powertrains, features and amenities that are sure to address a range of full-size sedan customer needs and wants.
The models include the entry level, well-equipped full-size 300C Limited sedan with more features standard or available than in – 2014 with the same MSRP of $31,395 (plus $995 destination); the urban looking sport version 300S with a MSRP of $34,895; the more upscale 300C with a MSRP of $37,895 and the premium top-of-the-line 300C Platinum with a MSRP of $42,355.
The Refresh Outside
Chrysler, in crafting a refresh for the 2015 Chrysler 300, took great pains to retain all of the elements and features that have made their flagship premium sedan so successful since that reinvention back in 2005. But, at the same time, they borrowed elements from the fresh new look of its sibling Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan to create an even better mainstream sedan that will satisfy a wider range of customers in the full-size segment.
At first look, you easily recognize the Chrysler 300 as your eyes are drawn to the retained iconic bold shape and broad shoulder look. With a second look you note a range of carefully crafted styling changes on the front and rear exteriors that bring a fresh and sharper look to the 300 for 2015 – without giving up any of its bold legacy styling.
On the front, the 2015 Chrysler 300 has a selectively redesigned (bolder and taller) textured grille that features the new Chrysler wing badge (shown first on the Chrysler 200 as the new face of Chrysler) which now appears to float on the grille. Tucked below the upper grille is a nicely crafted Mobius strip that outlines the lower grille opening and then extends out and around new optional LED fog lamps. The new 300 also features integrated LED-illuminated daytime running lamps that run in a “C” shape in the housing for further distinctive brand identification.
At the rear, the new Chrysler 300 sedan’s rear stance is enhanced with a new sculpted LED tail lamp unit with an illuminated halo, providing a unique signature appearance. The rear fascia is restyled to provide a more fluid look with accent from a new fascia trim piece above a new lower valance in black that adds to the visual wide profile of the 300.
Completing its fresh exterior look, the new Chrysler 300 has a pair of polished exhaust tips in the corners beneath the valance for a performance emphasis that is further enhanced by seven unique new wheel designs from 17- to 20-inches depending on the model.
Fresh features and amenities inside
On the inside, the Chrysler 300 features several all-new interior design elements including a standard 7-inch full-color driver information display (DID) and class-exclusive electronic rotary transmission shifter, plus Chrysler brand’s new three-spoke steering wheel with larger vehicle controls and available die-cast paddle shifters.
Some features that are now standard across all models include heated leather seating, LED-illuminated cup holders with retractable tambour door, Uconnect 8.4 with voice commands (segment’s largest 8.4-inch touchscreen) and SiriusXM Radio.
At the top end, the 300C Platinum, there are new two-tone Nappa leather seats with quilted design and perforated inserts available and premium Foligno leather wrapped panels standard on the sides of the center console that includes heating and cooling for the LED-illuminated cup holders.
Lastly, there is a new quiet in the cabin of the 2015 Chrysler 300 – the result of some intense frame and cabin engineering design work to mitigate vibration noise plus carpet with acoustic foam and foam-in-place noise barriers and acoustic windshield and front door glass.
More and better performance
A Detroit full-size sedan needs full-size power and the 2015 Chrysler 300 offers it three ways in RWD plus it has AWD available for an additional $2,500.
Power plants include the award winning 3.6L Pentastar V6 that delivers 292 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque and gets 19/31 mpg city/highway with an average 23 mpg expected. It is standard on the 300C Limited, 300C and 300C Platinum. The standard engine on the sporty 300S is a special cold air boosted 3.6L V6 that delivers 300 horsepower with 264 lb.-ft. of torque. It gets the same fuel economy as the 292 horsepower version.
The high performance 5.7L HEMI V8 with Four Cylinder Fuel Saver Technology is optional ($3,000 upcharge) on the 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum. It produces 363 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque and gets 16/25 mpg city/highway with an expected average of 19 mpg.
Eight-speed Automatic with Sport Mode
Delivering the horsepower to the road is often the competitive difference and for 2015, the advantage is with the Chrysler 300. All models and power plants come equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V6 uses the 845E version with adaptive electronic control and a five-clutch pack design with only two clutches open in any gear. The 300S and 300C Platinum include a Sport Mode and die cast paddle shifters.
The 5.7L HEMI V8 is mated with the model 8HP70 eight-speed with AutoStick and it also includes Sport Mode and die-cast paddle shifters on the 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum.
The combination of the 5.7L HEMI V8, the eight-speed automatic transmission plus the revised Sport Mode with paddle shifters delivers a reduced shift cycle time for improved performance. Shift times are reduced from approximately 400 milliseconds to 250 milliseconds delivering increased engine and throttle responsiveness, with quicker adjustment of electronic stability control (ESC) settings and firming up of the steering feel of the new electric power steering (EPS) system.
The net result is a 2015 Chrysler 300 RWD V8 sedan that can run 0-60 mph in under six-seconds.
Chrysler 300S Motown Uptown Muscle
We will not argue that the Chrysler 300S is a muscle car ala the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 with its larger 6.2L HEMI V8, but we do suggest that the 300S RWD is a reasonable (and lower cost) uptown Motown alternative.
Our scheduled time to drive the new Chrysler 300 models was all too brief, so we had to make a specific model choice quickly following the walk-around briefing by Chrysler marketing and engineering personnel. For us, the choice was already made while they were still talking – the Chrysler 300S RWD with the 5.7L HEMI power train was the one for us.
It caught our attention when we arrived at the Austin venue for the obligatory pre-first drive briefing. We took an instant liking to the new 2015 Chrysler 300S the minute we laid eyes on the Deep Cherry Red Crystal Clear Coat exterior, 20-inch Hyper Black machined aluminum wheels, distinctive rear deck spoiler (which told us it was the 5.7 HEMI) and black accents all around.
The base price for this Chrysler 300S was $34,895 –when equipped with the standard 3.6L Pentastar V6 (sport boosted to 300 horsepower). The 5.7L HEMI power train increase the cost by $3,000. The Uconnect 8.4AN with GPS Navigation included was another $995.
The final sticker price for our First Drive 2015 Chrysler 300S RWD was $38,890 (plus $995 destination).
First Drive Impression
Regrettably, the First Drive routes available to us were not conducive to really winding up the 300S with the 5.7 HEMI, but we did find it a smooth, roomy and comfortable ride running on its 20-inch wheels with the new sport-tuned suspension and improved damping.
On the inside, our 2015 Chrysler 300S model came with a premium black leather interior (an exclusive Ambassador Blue Nappa leather interior with industrious Silver accent stitching is also available) that is inspired by the ‘never-say-die’ spirit of Detroit, according to Chrysler.
The signature ‘300S’ logo is, of course, embossed on the seat backs. The very supportive sport seating is combined with exclusive use of Piano Black and Matte Carbon hydrographic accents to enhance the Detroit Motown interior look.
The very quiet cabin enabled us to thoroughly enjoy the signature 10-speaker BeatsAudio system with a 552-watt 12-channel amplifier trunk-mounted subwoofer while the rumble of the sport tuned exhaust system teased us for a solid hour and half as traffic on the route prevented our getting the pedal to the metal on the 300S for a full test drive.
To us, as best we could tell on the all-to-short First Drive, the new 2015 Chrysler 300S is Chrysler’s uptown version of a ‘Detroit Style’ muscle car with near muscle car performance capability to match.
We are looking forward to a lot more time behind the wheel of this one to see how close to a muscle car a 2015 Chrysler 300S for under $40,000 can be.
You can too – soon as they arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of 2015.