If you have recently been in an airport limo, you were likely occupying the rear seat of a Chrysler 300.
Since most Lincoln Town Cars — once the top pick of fleet operators — have been retired, the 300 has become one of the preferred conveyances for commercial applications as well as for others desiring a full-size North American sedan with plenty of available horsepower.
When originally launched for the 2005 model year, the 300, along with the chassis-sharing Dodge Charger and long-extinct Magnum wagon, turned the full-size-passenger-car category upside down. They shunned the shift to front-wheel-drive — at the time considered superior for four-season traction — and arrived in both rear- and all-wheel-drive choices. Concurrently, Chrysler devised a new-generation “Hemi” V-8-engine option, at a time when similar thirsty powerplants were being phased out.
It worked like gangbusters back then and apparently still does, although the ranks have thinned. The Pacifica minivan and the 300 are the only Chrysler-branded vehicles left and although the minivan is quite new, the 300 has undergone only modest updating to its looks and content over the years.
Even so, from its Bentley-esque grille to the short, squared-off rear deck that hides considerable luggage space, most observers will be hard-pressed to discern the 2019 Chrysler 300 from earlier models, which could be a plus if you’re trying to look current on a used-car budget.
The 300’s interior, which was last updated for the 2015 model year, holds tight to the luxury side of the ledger. The dashboard’s electronic gauges and sizable touchscreen appear leading edge, as does the rotary knob on the console in place of the traditional stick shifter. The dial is no more convenient to use, but it de-clutters the front-seat area and provides easier access to the cup holders and the fair-sized stowage bin.
The base 300 Touring, 300 S, and 300 Limited come with a 3.6-litre V-6 that produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The sportier 300 S boosts the numbers to and 300/264. Also available for the 300 S, but standard for the 300 C, is the 5.7-litre V-8 that delivers 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque.
Both engines are linked to eight-speed automatic transmissions, but the 300 C and the V-8 versions of 300 S come with paddle shifters and a Sport mode that produce quicker gear changes.
Sedan fans seeking greater thrust should scope out the closely related Dodge Charger sedan that can be had with a 485-horsepower 6.4-litre V-8, or a 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-litre in the Hellcat model.
Back again for 2019, all V-6 Chrysler 300s can be specified with all-wheel-drive. The system decouples the front axle when extra traction is not needed, which reduces mechanical drag and therefore fuel consumption.
Starting at $44,000, including destination fees, the base 300 Touring comes with dual-zone climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, dual exhaust and 17-inch wheels. The rear-wheel-drive V-6 is rated at 12.4 l/100 km in the city and 7.8 on the highway, while the V-8’s numbers are 14.7/9.4.
The S and Limited trims receive considerably more content, but the S comes with dual exhaust, a nine-speaker Alpine-brand audio package, performance-tuned steering and suspension, and blacked-out wheels and trim.
The V-8-powered 300 C’s kit includes perforated-leather seats, wood-trimmed interior and other fancy bits.
The extensive options list includes a 900-watt 19-speaker Harmon Kardon-brand stereo, navigation system, panoramic sunroof, power rear-window sunshade, plus a full range of crash-mitigating safety technologies (such as emergency braking) that’s part of the 300’s SafetyTec Plus Group.
Piling on the extras could push your Chrysler 300 purchase close to $60,000, but you’ll get a level of coddling content and stout performance that would cost thousands more to replicate in just about any other competing domestic- or import-based luxury four-door.
What you should know: 2019 Chrysler 300
Type: Four-door, rear- /all-wheel-drive full-size sedan
Engines (h.p.): 3.6-litre DOHC V-6 (292/300); 5.7-litre OHV V-8 (363)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Market position: The Chrysler 300 is one of the only North American sedans to offer V-8 power and rear- and all-wheel-drive systems. It also competes against certain European-based luxury models, but costs considerably less.
Points: Five-year-old styling update is holding up well. • First-rate interior appointments add a luxury feel. • Base V-6 is likely all the engine you’ll ever need, but there’s just something about the sound of a V-8. • AWD option is a lifesaver in Canadian winters. • Base price definitely in luxury-car territory, but plenty of size, power and style.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); lane departure warning (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy) 12.4/7.8 (V-6, RWD); Base price (incl. destination) $44,000
Base price: $48,900
Cadillac is pulling the plug on this comfortably spacious sedan after 2019.
Base price: $58,100
Hyundai’s highly regarded AWD luxury sedan is both powerful and affordable.
Base price: $60,800
Flagship AWD sedan uses an all-V-6-turbo-engine lineup producing up to 400 h.p.
-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media