2015 Chrysler 300 looks to recapture its mojo in LAWed, 19 Nov 2014 00:01:00 EST
Chrysler's 300 sedan has never been a shrinking violet, but it arguably lost a bit of swagger when its second-generation model bowed. There was no way that an evolutionary design could ever upend the automotive establishment the way the original 2005 model did, but even so, something was clearly left on the table when the 2011 model bowed.
You don't have take our word for it – Chrysler knows it, too. Reflecting back upon the second-generation model's styling today, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's senior vice president of design is refreshingly candid, telling Autoblog, "Our previous generation of leaders didn't understand the car very well, and kind of forced this front end on us." For 2015, Gilles and Co. have worked to recapture some of the 2005 design's lightning in a bottle. In Gilles' words, the brief for the refreshed 2015 model was to "give the car the attitude it deserves... up the attitude, up the presence."
Visually, the new 300 initially appears very similar to the current car, but closer inspection and side-by-side comparisons reveal countless changes, the most noticeable being a much larger front grille (by about 30 percent), redone light fixtures and a 'Mobius-strip' lower fascia that picks up where the new 200 left off. The cabin has been upgraded, too, with a standard seven-inch display in the gauge cluster, the latest UConnect infotainment system and improved material choices.
The 300's well-liked 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engines carry over largely unchanged, so the big news mechanically is the institution of Chrysler's eight-speed Torqueflite automatic across the line. (Previously, V8 models were equipped with six-speed units). Thankfully, the 2014 model's recalcitrant electronic gearshift lever has been axed, replaced by the rotary selector found in the 200 and other Pentastar-family products. Chrysler says drivers can expect both quicker acceleration and up to a six-percent improvement in fuel economy on V8 models.
Also aiding in the quest for improved efficiency are new cast aluminum axles and an electric power steering unit that has been fitted to all trims. A revised sport mode takes advantage of EPAS by varying the steering weight in addition to things like throttle mapping, transmission shift schedule and so on.
As you'd expect of a luxury sedan these days, there's also a newly expanded suite of available active safety technologies, including improved adaptive cruise control with full stop capability, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, and so on.
Despite the equipment upgrades and improved materials, Chrysler is holding the line on the 2015 300's base MSRP, with the range starting at $31,395 as before. That's not the whole pricing story, though, as Chrysler has pulled the 300 another rung up the latter with the introduction of a new 300C Platinum model, which includes things like Poltrona Frau leather covering the dashboard, hand-sanded wood and platinum-chrome exterior trim. There's also an updated 300S Sport model (shown) featuring revised damping and quicker paddle shifts (250 milliseconds, a 150-millisecond improvement), but the high-performance SRT model is dead, at least in the US.
By Chris Paukert
See also: Auto industry insider previews tell-all book, What Did Jesus Drive?, Chrysler Q3 profits surge to $611M but per-unit profits trouble, Mopar maneuvers into SEMA with a multitude of modified models.