The 2016 Chrysler 300 is simply the most Chrysler of a Chrysler there is.
That’s not a tautology, really. While of course it is a Chrysler—that’s the name on winged badge on its grille—it’s also a Chrysler, living up to the heritage that built the Chrysler Building, one of the most recognizable icons of the Manhattan skyline, and of Walter P. Chrysler himself, who built it all on quality automobiles at affordable prices.
Affordable is relative, of course, but the 2016 Chrysler 300C Platinum AWD, the subject of this review, is Chrysler at the top of its game, and near the top of the Chrysler price range, at $51,050, sparing only the 5.7-liter, a $3,000 option. Instead, our test model came with the standard 3.6-liter V-6, plus the optional SafetyTec Plus Group, at $2,995, and the Premium Leather I/P, Lower Door and Center Console, a $1,995 embellishment. Adding $995 for destination brings it to its $50K-plus bottom line.
What one gets for that almost princely sum—it’s easy to push a Ram 1500 pickup higher—is a bold expression of American car design, chock-a-block styling with fenders adorned with big flares, and a front end with a big and bold grille (spoiled, alas, in states requiring a front license plate). There’s no confusing the Chrysler 300 with any other automobile, and nothing more undeniably American.
Inside the 300C is equally bold—to use a term better suited a promotional fluff but dang it, we can’t stop ourselves. Like the exterior, interior elements are ringed in brushed metal and on our Platinum-level test car, accented with real hand-sanded wood trim. The use of real leather, particularly optioned as our car was, is lavish and, if in places seldom touched, soft to the touch and just, well, there.
Standard on the Chrysler 300C Platinum is the Chrysler Group’s Uconnect 8.4 NAV system, one of the biggest multi-information display screens on the market, along with one of the best and easiest to use navigation systems. Uconnect 8.4 now has an available mobile phone app that allows remote starting, and can also lock and unlock doors. Wi-Fi is also available, making the car a mobile hotspot. Other apps that can be had via Uconnect 8.4 include Aha by Harman, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Slacker.
The speedometer and tachometer are illuminated in an upscale blue, with the needle pointing straight down for zero mph and rpm. The wide driver information screen between the speedo and tach doubles the amount of information available over the m.i.d. alone.
The seats are big and luxurious, well suited for long sojourns on the Interstate, the fronts heated and ventilated, with heat for the back seat and power adjustment for driver and front passenger. Heated and cooled cup holders are standard too, and as a delight for cold winter mornings, a heated steering wheel (though the metal band around the rim does not heat, leaving an uncomfortably cold spot as the rest of the wheel warms up).
Transmission shifting duties are conducted via the rotary twist knob becoming more available on Chrysler Group vehicles as models are updated. The rotary knob has come under some criticism as some drivers have not fully placed it in Park, allowing the vehicle to roll away, often under its own power. Chrysler Group is looking into making it more difficult to use incorrectly. In the meantime, be careful, but It does save a lot of room to not have a large shift lever.
The 2016 Chrysler 300C Platinum has paddle shifters as standard equipment. The 300C doesn’t encourage sport-type driving and drivers won’t be using the paddles often. We employed them to downshift for engine braking, and just because we could, when slowing for a stop. In our hilly test area, however, we also downshifted when going downhill, though the standard eight-speed automatic downshifts on its own under those conditions.
The 2016 Chrysler 300C Platinum, along with the 300S, have a “Sport” mode that’s activated with the transmission is set to sport. Not only does this put the transmission in paddle-shift mode, it also increases the speed of gear change and gives quicker response the accelerator.
The standard V-6 engine is the same used across the Chrysler Group and Ram lineup, and in the 2016 Chrysler 300C line, it’s rated at 292 horsepower with 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s only about 60 horsepower less than the 5.6-liter V-8, and while that’s a significant difference, the V-6 could pass itself off as a V-8 if only it got the accent right. Acceleration is strong for what’s a really big car. (If you want more in a Chrysler 300, opt for the Chrysler 300S. The V-8 is standard and has a handful more horses than the V-8 in the 300C, but there’s less in the way of fancy trim and such). The V-6 engine is rated at 18/27 mpg city/highway, with 21 mpg combined. Our overall mileage, even in a hilly area that saps fuel mileage numbers, was 21.8 mpg.