Much has changed in 10 years for the 300 but the same goodness that was in the 2005 model is still here; it is the refinement that makes this a modern sedan…”

When Chrysler resurrected the 300 nameplate (originally sold from the mid 50s until the late 70s) back in 2005, it was met with the kind of enthusiasm of which automakers can only dream.

Hip-hop stars all the way to seniors chose the car with aggressive exterior styling and full-size dimensions. In fact, the 2005 Chrysler 300 wasn’t just a sales hit – it won more awards than any other vehicle to-date.

When Chrysler updated the car for 2011, the intention was to make the car less “brutal” looking, making it more elegant and sophisticated. This was achieved by opening up the glass area for better outward visibility and minimizing the bold front grille.

Now, for 2015, Chrysler is retracing its choices and going back to a blunt look again.

See: 2015 Chrysler 300 – Bold All-Wheel Drive Sedan

Looks

The people who drove the 2005 model welcomed some of the changes made in 2011. The glass area was improved by 15 per cent and the top of the front window was raised, making it easier to see traffic lights. This has not been adjusted for 2015; the revisions are kept to the front and rear of the 300.

The most noticeable update is the return of a big, bold grille, which is 30 per cent bigger than the aggressive grille found on the 2005 model. The way it is integrated is more polished, thanks to three distinct grille inserts depending on the trim level. The S trim (seen here) receives more black trim, not just on the grille, but also the side window trim and smoked 20-inch alloy wheels.

This car has some of the attitude of the Dodge Charger in a slightly more upscale package. Other refinements include LED lighting for daytime running lights, rear tail lamps and available LED fog lights. The rear bumper has been raised slightly to make it look less heavy and integrated exhaust tips help refine the look.


Inside

It is amazing to see how much has changed inside a modern sedan in the past 10 years. When the 2005 Chrysler 300 was introduced, the company was still addicted to hard, cheap looking plastic. Today, the 300 is fitted with upscale materials and the latest infotainment.

The changes for 2015 include a new instrument cluster display that is bold and bright. My preference would be to have the ability to dial down the brightness of the glowing instrument rings during the day, something that can be adjusted at night when the headlamps are on. The award winning 8.4-inch uConnect infotainment screen is standard on all trim levels and it is a snap to learn. Also included now, on all models, is the rotary transmission controller, something that becomes second nature after a few days of use.

The rest of the interior is tailored depending on the trim. The sportier S model is covered in black with bold white stitching. It is the top Platinum models that get the opulent diamond stitching in the seats, a two-tone leather steering wheel and open grain wood accents.


Drive

The reason for the standard transmission controller is the standard 8-speed automatic transmission for both V6 and V8 equipped cars. The base engine is the same 3.6L V6 with 292hp. The optional 363hp Hemi V8 is a powerful upgrade but this car is no longer available with all wheel drive (AWD), this is something previous V8 owners didn’t choose in great numbers, so it was dropped.

The 300 is now available with a sport setting for the transmission, engine management and steering feel, taking advantage of computer algorithms to extract the most out of the car’s strong engines. Unlike the sportier Dodge Charger, there is not an adjustable suspension but the S model does run on 20-inch wheels and tires making it feel very connected to the road.

This will not be the choice of traditional luxury buyers; they will like the more upscale 300C for grand touring.


Verdict

Starting at $37,395 and maxing out at $45,295 for an AWD platinum V6 model, there are many trims to choose (V8 equipped cars run roughly $2000 more).

The base is the value leader, the S is the sporty model, with standard 20-inch wheels, and the 300C Platinum is the one featuring the opulent interior. Chrysler believes that the S model will be the volume leader thanks to the aggressive black trim and chunky wheels. This is a surprise because the Dodge Charger is based on the same platform and has the whole “bad boy” attitude in spades, something the 300 looks to be mimicking.

The top Platinum would be my choice because it the interior is so different from the Dodge, something that truly separates the two cars plus it has all the latest safety features including the autonomous braking system when a crash is detected.

Much has changed in 10 years for the 300 but the same goodness that was in the 2005 model is still here; it is the refinement that makes this a modern sedan.


Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 2.4L 185hp or 2.0L Turbo with 245hp

Fill-up: 9.8L/6.7L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $23,999-$34,799

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