Review: 4 days with the 2017 Chrysler 300C

Review: 4 days with the 2017 Chrysler 300C

(Mike Stapley)


25 photos

Estimated read time: 8-9 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Chrysler 300 debuted in 1955 sporting a 300 horsepower HEMI V8, which led to the car’s inclusion at NASCAR events the following year. That car — possibly the fastest American-produced car — could reach 60 mph in 9.8 seconds.

In 1957, the 300C replaced the original car’s plain styling with something truly elegant, including prominent rear tail fins and a magnificent grill.

The 300 was steadily produced until 1971, then made a brief reappearance in 1979 before Chrysler brought the car back for good in 1999. The current 300C still sports prominent taillights, though to say they are mounted on fins is a bit of a stretch.

The HEMI has grown to 5.7 liters for 2017 and produces 363 horsepower. NASCAR drivers in 1955 could only have wished their Chryslers reached 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

“This car is a bit of a niche car in Utah,” said Nic Edwards, sales manager at Larry H. Miller Chrysler at Southtowne. “It performs well, is a big rear-drive car and anything with a HEMI gets some attention.”

Exterior styling

My wife and stepdaughter were quick to dub the 300C an “old guy car.” Undoubtedly, "old guys" would like the elegant and cushy ride of the 300, and the rear end styling does hearken back to the late 50s.

The rear of the car is tall, wide and the subtle fins house narrow tail lights that have been ripped from another era. Retro models and styling are cool again in the automotive world, and Chrysler helped usher in the fad with the 300.

The front grill is prominent and classy, just as it was in 1957, and the winged Chrysler logo spans the width of the upper end of the grill. The car appears to sit lower than it does, and the beautiful 20-inch chrome wheels add a feeling of largesse.

This particular 300C is outfitted with chrome accents everywhere and balances sporty and elegant in a way that is rare for large cars. The subtle fins on the rear thrust forward with ridges above the front fenders that straddle the hood and combine with prominent fenders to give the car a feeling of width.

Photo: Mike Stapley
Photo: Mike Stapley

Interior styling

The way Fiat-Chrysler carries styling cues from model to model is a little unnerving at first glance, though all manufacturers do this to an extent. The 300C may as well be a Jeep Grand Cherokee in terms of center console, vent and instrument cluster styling.

The dash is wide, deep and very well-appointed. The soft-touch materials found on the door panels and dash are elegant and well-finished. The prominent center touch screen is similar to those in other Jeep and Chrysler products and is one of the best driver interface systems available.

Controls for climate and media are well-laid-out, simple and easy to use. While the Uconnect system is well-designed and user-friendly, it comes at the expense of more efficient and simple switches to handle the seat heating and cooling.

Unfortunately, only the driver seat cooling settings would remain set between drives. Turning back on the passenger cooling meant another trip through touch screen controls. A physical button would have been simpler and would circumvent the need to reset cooling after every brief trip.

The leather-trimmed seats were comfortable but lacked lateral support for more spirited driving. While the 300C won’t rival luxury brand interiors from Europe, it is well-laid-out and has a higher quality feel than other cars in this price range, particularly American cars.

While the interior feels smaller than the car looks from the outside, there is plenty of room for the front passenger and the rear easily seats three adults. I’m 6 feet 2 inches tall, and the rear seat headroom and legroom were adequate.

The rotary gear selector takes a little longer to get used to and the analog clock is a nice throwback touch. The wood- and leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice and Chrysler wisely traded wood trim and matte finish plastics for the shiny plastics that seem all-too-present in American interiors these days.

Photo: Mike Stapley
Photo: Mike Stapley

Technology

Chrysler’s UConnect driver control system includes a large 8.4-inch touchscreen display and is one of the best available. Navigation throughout the system is built around categories located at the bottom of the screen. Everything is fairly intuitive and very user-friendly. Voice controls and navigation work well and most functions are available when the car is in motion.

The dash layout places the touchscreen facing straight ahead and it would be better served angled toward the driver. Since everything is tied to the UConnect system, it should be easier to reach.

This particular car lacked the optional SafetyTec Plus option package that would have added adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist and blind spot warnings, among other features. Visibility is good for the most part.

The optional 19-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is excellent and includes both Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Photo: Mike Stapley
Photo: Mike Stapley

Performance and handling

While the ride doesn’t always match expectations, the 300C is smooth and never stiff at highway speeds. The car soaks up the road and steering feels soft. Like most Jeep and Chrysler products, the brakes have a "soft pedal feel" but grab quickly to the road.

In fact, the 300C often feels similar to the large Cadillacs well-loved by the "old guys" a few decades past. The car seems built for long road trips rather than spirited canyon and city driving.

The car seems to respond when pushed somewhat, even without any setting changes. While the steering is soft even in sport mode, the handling is far better on twisty roads than expected.

There is a lot of body roll, which adds to the sloppy feel the car has at times. While it won’t be mistaken for a two-seater, the 300C adapts to the demands of the driver, partly because much of the suspension was originally intended for the Mercedes E-Class of cars.

The tires find their grip, the steering reacts faster than it seems it should and the suspension holds its own. It seems a feat of magic, but the 300C is both a highway touring car and canyon cruiser. However, the handling never feels as tight as it actually plays out.

Given the choice, I’d take the 300C on the long drive to Vegas through the twisty back roads. This car seems built for road trips.

The HEMI seems to always have power on standby and the passing power is impressive, especially accentuated by the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission also includes a manual mode with paddle shifters for the not-so-old guys and gals.

The engine and tranny combo only muster an estimated 19 combined miles per gallon. However, considering the big HEMI, it could be worse.

Photo: Mike Stapley
Photo: Mike Stapley

Conclusions

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be the best way to describe the 300C. Large rear-wheel drive cars are often one-trick ponies, but the 300C is impressive in a whole host of driving situations. The car is balanced and offers something unique for all types of drivers with an elegant interior and fantastic highway maneuvering.

The 300C is far less popular in Utah than on either coast, according to Edwards. Rear-wheel drive and below-average gas mileage don’t help. Cars of this size are found fewer and further between, and the 300C offers a good blend of performance and luxury. In the end, it’s a very enjoyable car to drive and can provide surprising handling when needed.

Utah drivers shouldn’t let only those on the coasts have all the fun, particularly with the all-wheel-drive option.

Specs

Vehicle type: four-door, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger sedan

Engine: 5.7 liter HEMI V8 gasoline

Transmission: eight-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters

Power: 363 horsepower, 394 foot-pound torque

Wheelbase: 120.2 inches

Gas Mileage: EPA estimated city/highway 16/25 miles per gallon

Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons

Warranty: five year/60,000 mile powertrain; three year/36000 mile bumper to bumper, one year of Sirius XM radio included

Price as tested: $44,620


Mike Stapley

About the Author: Mike Stapley

Mike Stapley is a father of two, a business sales manager for a telecom company and an aspiring novelist living in Salt Lake City. Contact him at mstapley4@gmail.com.

Conclusions

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be the best way to describe the 300C. Large rear-wheel drive cars are often one-trick ponies, but the 300C is impressive in a whole host of driving situations. The car is balanced and offers something unique for all types of drivers with an elegant interior and fantastic highway maneuvering.

The 300C is far less popular in Utah than on either coast, according to Edwards. Rear-wheel drive and below-average gas mileage don’t help. Cars of this size are found fewer and further between, and the 300C offers a good blend of performance and luxury. In the end, it’s a very enjoyable car to drive and can provide surprising handling when needed.

Utah drivers shouldn’t let only those on the coasts have all the fun, particularly with the all-wheel-drive option.

Specs

Vehicle type: four-door, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger sedan

Engine: 5.7 liter HEMI V8 gasoline

Transmission: eight-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters

Power: 363 horsepower, 394 foot-pound torque

Wheelbase: 120.2 inches

Gas Mileage: EPA estimated city/highway 16/25 miles per gallon

Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons

Warranty: five year/60,000 mile powertrain; three year/36000 mile bumper to bumper, one year of Sirius XM radio included

Price as tested: $44,620


![Mike Stapley](http://img.ksl.com/slc/2583/258384/25838475\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Mike Stapley ------------------------------

Mike Stapley is a father of two, a business sales manager for a telecom company and an aspiring novelist living in Salt Lake City. Contact him at mstapley4@gmail.com.

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