The Chrysler 300 is all about style.
Its gangster-chic look has made it an American icon, despite the fact that it has remained largely unchanged except for a styling refresh or two throughout its 11-year run. It’s also one of the last traditional full-size American cars available, along with its platform-mate, the Dodge Charger.
The styling is aging well, though. Even the first-generation modern 300 sedans still look fresh, something that can’t be said for the Charger, which is starting to look dated despite a recent styling refresh. The 300 went through a major refresh in 2011 and a smaller one in 2015, and each one has kept the car looking modern while keeping its classic lines.
The 300 Limited AWD tested here is finished in what Chrysler calls Maximum Steel Metallic, but is actually a quite nice shade of dark grey with slightly blue-ish overtones. It looks great and is complemented nicely by the 19-inch polished aluminum wheels. Even after all these years, the 300 is still a looker.
Inside, the 300’s interior is simple and elegant. Despite some cheap materials that it shares with the Charger, the 300 appears to be more upscale than its sibling. A faux wood and chrome trim line bisects the upper dash panel, which looks a lot better than the Charger’s great wall o’ rubbery plastic.
The faux wood continues on the lower dash panel and around the shift knob, but the retractable door over the 12V port and cell phone cubby feels cheap and flimsy. It’s the cheapest part of the dash and really detracts from the overall feel of the cabin.
The large 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen is nicely integrated into the large dash, and a small analog clock above the screen is a nod toward the traditional. The gauge cluster is typical of other Fiat-Chrysler models and is backlit in blue in the 300. A standard tachometer and speedometer flank a small LCD screen that can show a variety of vehicular information, from a digital speedometer to fuel economy information to audio information.
The multi-function steering wheel is nearly identical to the Charger’s (and other FCA cars) and has the same pluses and minuses. It’s meaty and comfortable to hold, but the controls for the radio are handled by small rocker buttons behind the right and left spokes and aren’t very intuitive. The right spoke holds the cruise control buttons, which are fine, but the other spoke’s buttons control the center screen on the gauge cluster and would be better suited to control the radio.
Another anachronism it shares with the Charger is the single stalk for turn signals and windshield wipers. This is an artifact of the column shifter that appears on police-package Chargers, even though there is no such option on the 300. It takes getting used to because the single stalk has a few too many functions to be intuitive.
Much like the Charger and the Cherokee tested here at TFLcar, the 300 has the same Uconnect annoyance in that it doesn’t have a true audio-off button. I know I harp on this a lot, but it’s such a simple fix that I don’t believe it hasn’t been addressed yet. In a nutshell, there is no way to turn off the audio, so whatever was playing last when the car was shut off starts playing when the car is turned on, whether you want it to or not. It would be nice to have a way to turn off the audio yet keep all the other functions on.
Honda’s and Toyota’s infotainment systems have the ability to turn off the audio sources, and I’m sure others do as well. What makes it even more glaring is that the Uconnect system is otherwise one of the best home-grown infotainment interfaces in the business. Hopefully, someone at FCA reads TFLcar reviews and takes this criticism seriously.
The only other issue with the 300 is that the same styling that gives it its chopped-top, gangster style also limits outward visibility. The windows are narrow and the door sills are high. That, and the chunky C-pillars, create a lot of blind spots that are disconcerting, especially in such a large vehicle.
Small issues aside, though, the inside of the 300 is a nice place to spend time. The ivory-colored seats and door trim look great, but might not be as durable and will definitely show more dirt than the available black seats and trim.