So many cars today pretend to be everything to everyone, but the 2020 Chrysler 300 is refreshing in that it doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t. The big sedan is a relic of a car; a quickly fading dinosaur clinging to relevance. And while that might seem like criticism, I think it’s one of the qualities that makes it so charming.
The Chrysler 300 is ancient by automotive standards, but its style has aged gracefully, and the pseudo-luxury sedan manages to stand out for all the right reasons because of it. The 300’s strong and imposing stance still looks handsome, its old-school, boxy heft and straight lines standing out among the alien shapes and harsh angles that simply won’t stand the test of time.
On the other hand, my brother-in-law roasted the 300 by commenting that it’s “just so unattractive,” so perhaps I have questionable taste for liking the design.
I’m not a huge fan of all the chrome used on this Limited trim because the shiny stuff seems to age the sedan, but that chrome can be swapped out for black accents, which look more modern and add extra swagger.
The all-wheel-drive model sits a bit higher than the rear-drive one, so there’s a bit of an awkward gap in the wheel arches, but it’s not that noticeable unless you compare the two side by side.
Inside, the analog clock on the dash is a weird throwback [We see you too, Lexus. – Ed.], but the rest of the interior does a decent impersonation of a luxury car. Chrysler uses a lot of hard black plastic throughout the cabin, but most of it’s placed well outside of your regular touchpoints, while softer and more upscale materials are used in the areas you come in contact with more often. The layout is clean and simple.
The Chrysler 300 is not a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though it did get a “Good” rating for all of its crash tests except for the driver side small overlap front test, which scored “Marginal.” The headlights also got a “Poor” rating.
The 300’s front crash prevention got a “Superior” rating. Unlike many of its competitors, Chrysler doesn’t include its driver assistance and safety tech as standard, which is a shame. Instead, even in the Limited trim I tested that sits near the top of the lineup, it needs two optional packages to add safety features like parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beams, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. Although many of these features should be standard equipment, they do work well and aren’t intrusive or finicky. The adaptive cruise control, for example, is smooth and feels natural, while the lane-keep assist isn’t too aggressive.
The 300 is an older car that hasn’t been updated in a while, so it’s missing some of the features you expect these days like a wireless phone charger and, oh, say, 50 USB ports, for example.
There’s really nothing very innovative about the 300, but most of the important features are available. In the Limited model, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, integrated garage door opener, automatic headlights, front heated and ventilated seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Even when the optional adaptive cruise control is purchased, the 300 still lets drivers use traditional cruise control should they prefer to.
The 300 benefits from having the UConnect infotainment interface, which is one of the most user-friendly systems available. Even though the version in the 300 isn’t the newest iteration, it still manages to be better than most of the other systems out there. The screen is responsive, the menus are logical and easy to navigate, and you never have to search too long to find what you’re looking for. Even a small detail like having a compass in the main menu’s bottom row of shortcuts and having quick access to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay makes it less distracting and more convenient.
Some people might want more analog buttons for common functions like the heated seats, but stuff is easy enough to access in the touchscreen that I didn’t think this was an issue. I also love the rotary gear selector, which is more user-friendly than electronic rockers or using buttons to select gears. The layout is simple, but the benefit is that everything is where you expect it to be.
If the 300 needs any improvements to its user-friendliness, it’s that the rear-view camera should be better. The image it displays could be higher definition and include more parking guides, because the view makes it harder to gauge where the car’s rear corners are in relation to what’s around them.
The Chrysler 300 has an absolutely massive trunk, with an accommodating opening and a massive 462 L capacity, which is more than some crossovers. Unfortunately, the cabin doesn’t have a lot of convenient cubbies to store small items like keys, phones, and wallets. All the slots designed to hold phones are just too small, another giveaway of the sedan’s age, as it was designed at a time when phones weren’t as big as they are now. You end up having to put your phone in a cupholder or the centre console box, which is also not that big. The glovebox, however, is deep and has a large shelf that can help keep things organized.
The 300 prioritizes comfort above all else. The suspension soaks up broken roads and isolates the occupants well, so the sedan always feels like it’s gliding and floating on its way to your destination. The only comfort complaint I have are the seats, which seem to be made for much larger frames. The couch-like seats don’t offer much support for my smaller frame and my back and shoulders began to ache during longer drives.
Luckily the cabin is very roomy for occupants, and even with tall passengers up front, those in the back should still have enough room for their legs – though it wasn’t as limo-like as I assumed it would be. The C-pillars in the back are also very thick and cut noticeably into rear-seat headroom. Even 5-foot-6 me knocked my head on the door frame while getting in and out of the back.
The Chrysler 300 Limited is powered by a 3.6L V6 with 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Although I would prefer the Hemi V8 under the hood, the V6 is a stalwart engine that is plenty capable, provided you’re buying the sedan for comfortable cruising. The V6 is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and though the combination works well because it’s smooth and quiet, the big sedan does feel lazy when pushed. It will get you up to highway speeds in decent time and there’s enough power to pull off a pass, but don’t expect much more than that.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
The Chrysler 300 AWD is rated at 12.8 L/100 km in the city, 8.7 L/100 km on the highway, and 11.0 L/100 km combined, but I was averaging 11.3 L/100 km with mixed driving. It dropped to a surprising 8.6 L/100 km after a few very long highway trips, which isn’t terrible, but if your commute is mainly city driving, the 300 is thirsty. You’ve been warned. Although the Chrysler 300 AWD doesn’t have any natural competition out there, for comparison’s sake, the Toyota Avalon is rated at 10.9/7.6/9.4 L/100 km, though those ratings are for the front-wheel-drive model (the all-wheel drive one isn’t out yet). Also, a small detail I appreciated was the capless fuel filler.
Driving Feel: 5/10
The Chrysler 300 is the least sporty vehicle I have driven in a long time, and that’s totally okay because there’s no need for a car like this to be sporty. This car makes zero effort to be a driver’s car – the suspension is soft, the steering is completely numb, and the whole thing moves like the elephant it is – but I think it all actually adds to the sedan’s personality. Instead of pretending to be a sporty car, it’s comfortable with its purpose, and owns it.
The 300 might be the softest sedan you can buy today. There is a lot of body movement when driving – it pitches and dives when you hit the throttle and the brakes, it wafts around corners, and it’s never in a hurry to do anything. The turning circle is also enormous, so it felt much more comfortable in suburban settings than in the city where there’s less room to manoeuvre.
The 2021 Chrysler 300 Limited AWD starts at $48,195, and for that price, a lot of the safety features should be included as standard equipment. Although paying an additional $1,690 for the driver assistance and safety features is not that much, other brands include them as standard for much less money. All in, the as-tested price for the 300 I drove was $56,585 – a steep price that could be easily slashed by skipping some of the extras like the panoramic sunroof ($1,595) and the upgraded stereo system ($1,495). Still, the 300’s price is tough to justify.
The built-in-Ontario 2020 Chrysler 300 likely won’t be around for much longer; its departure will be a huge loss for people who just want a big, comfortable sedan for cruising. The 300 feels and looks regal, carrying itself with the type of self-confidence I could only imagine having. The biggest differentiator of the 300 is that it has a real personality, something that is refreshing because it is surprisingly rare in the big sedan segment.
|Peak Horsepower||292 hp|
|Peak Torque||260 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||12.8 / 8.7 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||462 L|
|Model Tested||2020 Chrysler 300 Limited AWD|
|Price as Tested||$56,585|
$6,395 – Velvet Red Pearl Paint, $100; Customer Preferred Package 22T, $695; SafetyTec Group 1, $695; SafetyTec Group 2, $995; harman/kardon Audio Group, $1,495; Cargo Net, $50; Dual Pane Panoramic Sunroof, $1,595; UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display, $770