Test Drive: Is This Luxury Sedan for You?

We put the Chrysler 300S AWD through the paces on a road trip from Toronto to Athens, Ga.

Chrysler 300S review

Rating

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A cruiser that covers the miles with ease

Type

Full-size sedan

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Engine
3.6L V6
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Fuel economy
7.8 L per 100 km
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Power
363 hp, 394 lb-ft
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Drivetrain
All-wheel drive
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Transmission
Eight-speed automatic

Competition

BMW 3-Series, Audi A4

Best For

Drivers who love being behind the wheel and want a sleek alternative to a boxy SUV

I have to admit that I was prepared to dislike the Chrysler 300S. While I’ve always appreciated its muscular, retro looks, I’m not really drawn to sedans and have developed a bit of an SUV owner’s bias toward tall vehicles with cargo space instead of a trunk. Then, somewhere on Virginia’s Blue Star Memorial Highway in the middle of a 1,500-kilometre road trip to Athens, Ga., with a friend, I began to really like this car.

Getting a feel for the 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD

The supportive seats gave me a great driving position (thanks in part to the heavily bolstered versions on this S model); there’s ample visibility throughout; the powerful, but smooth-revving, 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine (with an eight-speed transmission and AWD) thrums comfortably at both low speeds and high; paddle shifters add to the performance feel and strong brakes come in handy when interstate traffic ebbs and flows. Plus, the 300S came with six speakers and a 276-watt amplifier as part of the BeatsAudio package, which comes in handy when the goal of your road trip is to see one of your favourite bands. This car, I decided, is one comfortable highway cruiser.

Chrysler 300S luxury sedan review 

We were on our way to see the Drive-By Truckers in their hometown of Athens and wanted a car that would capably cover a lot of miles and feel comfortable while doing so. The 300S ticked both those boxes. We drove through fog in West Virginia, heavy rain in North Carolina and, during those night drives along darkened interstates, the 300S’s powerful headlights—with auto-dimming capability for the times when we encountered oncoming traffic—cut through the dark. In all, the 300S never missed a beat.

A smooth ride with attitude

The 300S slots in the middle of the Chrysler 300 lineup. The engine is smaller than that of the 5.7L Hemi V8 in the top-of-the-line 300C, but the V6 was as much power as we needed. Our mostly highway driving returned 10.2 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy (though it's rated 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres in highway fuel economy).

The 300S also features some design touches that make it stand out from typical sedans—and from its competition. Black chrome accents and moulding and black chrome 20-inch wheels lend it a bit of attitude, particularly when paired with the Velvet Red Pearl paint of the model we drove.

Chrysler 300S review trunk storage space 

The car is roomy, with ample passenger space, but it doesn’t feel like a big car. It’s easy to maneuver. Visibility is mostly great throughout, but the low roofline and generally low profile create a bit of a blind spot. That wasn’t a problem during typical driving; the addition of a backup camera certainly helped when reversing out of a parking spot (especially when surrounded by pickups and SUVs).

Driver-friendly tech

The 300S includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen (standard across all trim lines) via which you control most of the car’s infotainment system. The upgraded Uconnect 4C NAV Multimedia system on the 300S includes Sirius satellite radio and Apple CarPlay. Chrysler’s Uconnect is one of the best infotainment systems among all automakers. It connects easily to an iPhone and allows the driver to focus on driving. The touchscreen is responsive, and its large icons are intuitive and easy to use. Best of all, chunky analog dials and push buttons situated just below the screen allow you to also control audio volume and climate controls, letting the driver keep their eyes on the road while making a quick adjustment.

With a base price of $43,945 (the version I drove was fitted with the $1,600 Premium Group package, which, along with the panoramic sunroof and navigation package, helped push the price to $54,990), the 300S is not cheap. At that price point, it’s in competition with the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4. It’s a tough segment, but the 300S holds its own with its throwback design, performance attitude and cruising capability.

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Image credit: Courtesy of manufacturer and Paul Ferriss

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