Refinements and tons of power make the best 300 yet.
When manufacturers add an “S” to the end of any automotive nameplate, it signifies something special, something sporty. Such is the case with the 2018 Chrysler 300S a model that has been super popular with those looking for a reasonably priced sedan with stunning good looks, comfort and performance. The new “S” Model does a great job holding the line on Chrysler’s legacy brand, our charcoal grey colored example delivering exactly the things that we have grown to know so well.
The exterior of our 300S model featured the S Model Appearance package that added body color fascias front and rear, daytime running lights, SRT LED fog lamps and neatly sculpted body molding and requisite S-style rear spoiler. The design change a few years back drew rave reviews by the media and rightly so. The clean and elegant tail elicits the feelings of cars twice its price and interior appointments are certainly high end.
One cannot complete a review of the 300S exterior without noting what Chrysler engineers call the 300’s most recognizable design statement – the “distinctive platinum chrome” grille surround that first arrived back in 2005. While the grille certainly stands out as a major design element, the car’s overall shape is very boxy and while that could be its downfall, other unheralded design cues give the 300S a very luxurious appeal.
Inside, that luxury feel is clearly backed up with substance. Nappa Leather covers not only the seating surfaces but door panels and even the steering wheel (which features gentle heating, a nice touch when cold weather comes). The center console wraps nicely through the center of the vehicle and the gear selector is placed within easy reach. Frankly, the knob control is very simple but never delivers a confident click between gears. The knob simply twists through the regular P, R, N, D, L enumeration but it feels out of place in this cockpit. Much has been said about the gear selector by the media but Chrysler seems dedicated to the design. Ram Truck folks know this discussion well too.
Interior gauges are basic with steering wheel mounted controls that allowed for a deeper dive into the information locked inside. The instrument panel gauges are easy to read and the standard icons used on the center monitor were clear and quickly led to the various apps, climate and entertainment elements. Apple Car Play continues to be the “go to” app for automotive phone connections, however, I still find it very frustrating and have deleted it from two personal vehicles. Avoiding it for those so inclined is easy to do and pairing a phone without it is completely fine.
The big Chrysler’s suspension continues to be one of its best attributes delivering the super smooth on-highway feel demanded by consumers. For a car that weighs over 4000 lbs, acceleration is quite good with the V8 engine (the V6 is not terrible but there is certainly a difference) but performance handling just okay. The suspension features adjustable shock valving, sway bars front and rear and large performance tires that can be wrapped around as many as nine different alloy wheels offered on the 300S. Our car sported up-level gray smoked alloy wheels that really fit with the charcoal paint. Electric power steering makes precise steering adjustments when maneuvering at low speed and during high-speed cornering.
Mandatory tech stuff included Lane Keep Assist to keep you in the lane when drifting off course and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop that is one of the best we have witnessed. While the full stop feature is considered an important advancement in recent years (the car will come to a full stop if traffic stops ahead of you) the return to the normal pre-set speed is smooth and quick.
The 300S can be had with the more than adequate 300HP 3.6-liter V6 but for our testing the 363HP, 5.7-liter V8 was more of our style. The car’s deep torque band really helps when moving through traffic and significant refinement have been used to make the cylinder-delete system work without exhaust drone, which has been an issue in the past. The cylinder delete system has proven terrific for improving overall mileage – which for our vehicle was about 22 city and 28 highway.
The 8-speed automatic transmission is highly capable of getting the right amount of power to the ground when called upon. Upshifts are smooth and clean – most drivers probably never notice the change from gear to gear. The AWD system flips from AWD to Rear Wheel drive when needed – a nice touch that once again shows the sophistication of the newest 300S.
Other tech pieces include Adaptive Hi-Intensity Discharge headlights with automatic load leveling to keep the headlights level and properly positioned. Optional automatic high beam headlights will brighten when the road is clear of other vehicles and drop down to low beam when not.
The Chrysler 300S is not dramatically changed from the previous few model years but the slight refinements are notable. The 300S is an elegant performance car. Exterior styling is dramatic and clean with attractive lighting throughout. The power is not overwhelming simply because of the vehicle’s significant heft. All of today’s key interior tech features are present – and nicely organized for safe driving operation. For those that are looking for a muscle-style luxury machine, the Chrysler 300S is certainly one to consider.