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Chrysler's 300 sedan mimics a Mercedes E-Class in ride and handling; not price

From the back, the 300 sedan also takes on a Bentley look
From the back, the 300 sedan also takes on a Bentley look
by Nick Hromiak

How’d you like to own a Mercedes E-Class luxury sedan for half their going price? Well you can if you opt for a Chrysler 300.

Chrysler's 300 takes on the appearance of a Bentley sedan with its squared design
by Nick Hromiak

The 300 full-size sedan is made in Canada and gets its platform from the former Mercedes E-Class. And because of that, it rides and handles like an E-Class. But it goes one further. The 300 looks like a Bentley, the ultimate luxury sedan for the very rich and famous. And that trait is what made this car such a success for Chrysler.

The 300 is also one of the few, rear drive luxury sedans that come in six trim levels: 300, 300S, 300C, 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition, 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition and hot SRT8 that houses a HEMI V8 engine.

My test car was outfitted with the standard 3.6-liter, V6 that generates 292-hp and 260 lb/ft of torque. The “S” version with the same but specially tuned engine puts out 300-hp. All couple to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination felt like a small V8 under the hood and provided EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 31-highway mpg.

Along with this powertrain combo is an electronic shifter that looks conventional, but had some quirks. A few times when shifting to “D/L” from “P” gearing, it wouldn’t readily engage. Only a return to “P” then back to “DL” engaged it. A mechanical shifter is still preferable.

Also noticeable was that when getting on the accelerator then quickly getting off it, engine rpm’s continued to climb for a second or two. It acted like a CVT transmission, which it isn’t. Otherwise, the powertrain was quiet and very peppy for a modestly heavy sedan.

But if you’d like more of a performance sedan, merely opt for the SRT8 version that will bump you up to 470-hp and 470 lb/ft of torque.

And here in the Snowbelt, the AWD option would be preferred. In fact there’s a Glacier version that comes with AWD and other snow-time goodies.

While the base 300 comes standard with 17-inch tires, the 300S with AWD gets 19-inchers. My test car was shod with Firestone 245/45R20’s that are standard in the SRT8. Despite their size, they offered a quiet, smooth ride.

Handling too was impressive for a big, bulky sedan. There was only some slight body lean in sharp, tight turns taken at speed yet there never was any sign of unstableness.

As for the 300s interior, it was totally upscale and posh. Gorgeous soft white perforated leather adorned the seats. The fronts were supportive while the backs were sofa soft, comfy and wide enough for three adults in a pinch.

The dash was grained vinyl that felt like rubber and was complimented by dark green faux wood trim. A huge (6.5x5-inch) LCD screen displayed audio, GPS and rearview camera functions. There’s also a slot on the console that can hold a Smartphone, even the larger Samsung models.

All HVAC controls are conventional and easy to use without having to consult the owners’ manual. And a keyless ignition allows you to keep your keys in your pocket.

Ingress/egress into the back seat is easy thanks to wide opening doors and a low step-in.

The 300’s 16.3 cubic foot trunk is fairly spacious and can accommodate two medium size roll-a-longs or a hoofer golf bag with the long clubs stacked atop the bag. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and two golf bags will fit.

An optional panoramic sunroof takes up much of the roof but only the front portion opens.

Safety wise, the 300 is complete with an array of airbags, Electronic Stability control, tire pressure warning and more. Standard too is an acoustic windshield and front door glass, humidity sensor system, satellite radio, bi-function halogen headlamps plus other niceties.

My test car had the $3,000 22M preferred package that contained power heated mirrors and considerably more to which was added the Motown Power and Sound Group for $1,695 but included the rearview camera, remote start, 552-watt amp and more. Added to that was $1,495 for the sunroof and $995 for Chrysler’s Uconnect and Garmin GPS nav. That brought the bottom line to a reasonable $38,325 with delivery after a base of $30,145.

To its credit, the 300 received five stars for overall safety, five for driver frontal crash, four for passenger while side crash received four for front seat, five for rear. It also scored four stars for rollover.

To test drive a 300, stop by Rothrock Motors off Route 22 at 15th Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.

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