This review is part of a ten-car comparison of large sedans. The 300 is ranked eighth place of ten.
8th Place: 2014 Chrysler 300 C
In 2005, the Chrysler 300 won awards for bringing brash new style and rear-wheel-drive performance to the staid full-size sedan class. The second-generation model, a mechanical twin to the ninth-place Dodge Charger, offered a mild evolution when it appeared as a 2011 model – fresher but familiar looks, and various updates throughout.
More luxurious than the Charger, the 300 has plusher seats, a smoother and quieter ride, a richer interior feel, a roomier rear seat, and a price tag of roughly $2,900 higher comparably equipped. Unless the Chrysler's styling is unplatable, this extra cost is well worth it for a car that feels more worthy of a price tag above $30,000 and that comes closer to the people-hauling capabilities expected of a full-size car.
But the 300 still retains many of the issues that kept the Charger near the back of this comparison. Smarter interior trim brightens the Chrysler's cabin, but many materials remain shy of luxury grade and moving parts are clunky. There's a disconnected feel to the steering and the accelerator that makes driving the 300 feel quite unnatural. And the rear-wheel-drive layout still robs some interior volume.
A 2014 Chrysler 300 C comparably equipped with other cars in this comparison has one of the highest sticker prices – $40,500 – but that can be haggled down to a more competitive $34,481. (Note that in the 300's heyday, the “C” designated that the car had the available V8 engine; it's now an ordinary trim level with the V6 standard.)
But there are few truly standout characteristics of the 300, merely fewer grave flaws than the Charger. It checks most of the right boxes, but the cohesive feel of the good competitors just isn't there in this Chrysler.
The Chrysler 300 certainly doesn't look like a car to which you'd apply the label of “crude,” with styling that manages to strike a balance between brash and elegant; a rare-for-the-class rear-wheel-drive platform and eight-speed automatic transmission; and tasteful splashes of false wood and aluminum interior trim.
But while it comes closer to luxury-grade than the cheaper Charger, it's still got issues. The front doors are clunky to open and their interior panels don't align well with the dashboard. The dash has its nice touches, but its dominant coating is an odd rough-grained rubbery material. The center stack controls – a large touchscreen above regular buttons and knobs, part of the UConnect infotainment system – are a model of well-designed simplicity, but such controls as the seat memory buttons and headlight dial look dated and cheap.
The bigger issue is in the driving dynamics. The 300 cruises very nicely in a straight line, with a quiet and supple ride and a solid, unstoppable cruising feel. But getting up to speed relies on a disconnected, artificial-feeling relationship between the throttle and the engine, with drivers' inputs getting delayed and confused on their path toward accelerating the car. This Chrysler is also the heaviest car in its class by a comfortable margin – 4,270 pounds, nearly 300 pounds more than even the Charger – and that also affects its cornering abilities.
Most of the 300's competitors – indeed, most modern sedans – manage at minimum to offer a natural feel to their simple driving operations. Something is off here. The junky aspects of the car's interior count further against it.
The 300 is comfortable inside, at least, with much nicer seats than the Charger. A more upright profile also lends it more rear-seat headroom, and passengers too tall for the car will at least have their heads resting against a padded roofliner rather than rear windshield glass. Leg room, though, is still a little tight by full-size standards, and a center-rear passenger straddles the large drivetrain hump.
One more interior issue shared with the Charger is the vexing electronic gear selector, which is cumbersome to operate while serving no evident value.
The Chrysler 300 is certainly not a bad car – it's cushy and quiet, and not terribly expensive. But it's also not terribly cheap, nor as polished and sophisticated as most 2014-model sedans priced above $30,000. It cries out for a redesign that makes the rest of the car as modern, polished and slick as its UConnect system.
Overall grade: C+
- More photos of the 2014 Chrysler 300 C
- Report card: Rating the 300 -- how does it compare in different ways, such as comfort, performance, and fuel economy?
- Report card: Ranking the 300 -- how does it stack up for different types of buyers?
More from this comparison:
- Previous review: 2014 Dodge Charger SXT Plus (9th place)
- Next review: 2014 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV (7th place)
- Rating the ten large sedans
- Ranking the ten large sedans
- Quick summaries of the ten large sedans: Pros, cons, conclusions
Vehicle tested: 2013 Chrysler 300
Vehicle base price (MSRP): $30,345
Version tested: C
Version base price (MSRP): $36,345
Vehicle price as tested (MSRP): $43,120
Vehicle price as comparable (MSRP)*: $40,500
Estimated transaction price as comparable**: $34,481
Test vehicle provided by: Ourisman Chrysler; Clarksville, Md.
Length: 198.6 inches
Width: 75.0 inches
Height: 58.5 inches
Wheelbase: 120.2 inches
Weight: 4,270 pounds
Trunk volume: 16.3 cubic feet
Turning circle: 38.8 feet
Engine (as tested): 3.6-liter V6 with 292 horsepower
Transmission (as tested): 8-speed automatic
EPA city mileage: 19 miles per gallon
EPA highway mileage: 31 miles per gallon
EPA combined mileage: 23 miles per gallon
Assembly location: Canada
For more information: Chrysler website
* "Prices as comparable" reflect 2014 models with leather seats, a sunroof, a navigation system, a premium audio system, heated front seats, and certain other premium features.
** Transaction price estimates are based on data from Truecar.com and dealer quotes.