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First Drive: 2016 Chrysler 300S


There comes a point in time in a cars life where an update must be made to keep things fresh and rejuvenated. Sometimes it’s a new face, some new wheels, paint options, and in certain circumstances, new mechanical engineering. In the case of the 2016 Chrysler 300, it’s a new transmission… plus all of the above. Not to worry though, none of that mobster vibe and vast trunk space has been lost.

Mind you, the new eight-speed transmission found here in our tester isn’t really new at all. It’s found in a lot of FCA’s latest products; Dodge Durango, Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Introduced in 2015 as part of the 300’s refresh, the new gears also brought in Chrysler rotary gear select from the 200 that replaces the ever-so-loved traditional lever type. This new tranny works with two engines – 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or pony up the $3000 for the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 like our tester here. And at nearly 4400lbs, we’d prefer the heft of the V-8 as we saw it carry this great white whale past 60 mph in five and half seconds.

5.7-liters is a big engine and with an output of 363-horsepower it certainly is no slouch. Those eight forward gears graciously move this heavy weight smoothly and efficiently with any hesitation. This transmission likes to keep things in the lower part of the rpms when shifting gears, but when called upon the throttle to do its thing, it seems to find the right gear in a timely manner. Rotate the gear dial over to S for Sport, and the gearing hangs a little tighter in the lower gears for quicker responses – manual paddle shifters attached the steering wheel increases a sportier experience when demanding on the gears. However we found it best to leave the car in normal drive and let it sort out what we needed when we needed it.

Even with our sampler here being the sportier trim of the 300’s lineup, the 300S sits right dab in the middle starting at $35,470. Providing a sportier tuned suspension and 20-inch hyper black wheels gives the 300 a sturdier ride than before – but none of that plushness is lost. Springing for a new electronic steering verses the old hydraulic increases the weight in the steering wheel for a pleasant feel in its driving charisma, even though it provides a fairly vague feel for the wheels, it’s still has a decent balance for comfort.

V-8’s in this premium full-size sedan class are near extinction and we will soon be digging them up from the ground right alongside the dinosaur bones. Mostly their dying because of efficiency, V-6’s are nearly as powerful and more efficient than a V-8 – but seriously… nothing beats the nice grumble of a solid HEMI at your fingertips. Thus effects fuel economy, which honestly wasn’t as bad as we predicted seeing we averaged 19 mpg combined for the week on premium octane fuel and 370 miles of open road to cover.

Like a well fitted suit, the unique blue leather interior felt premium and calming. In case you forgot what trim you purchased the S embroidered logo is a subtle reminder that this 300 is not ordinary – they provide decent lateral support and a comfortable place to be for several hours. You won’t notice much change to the interior with this mid-cycle refresh. And really for good reason – it’s still a good looking interior. The only new bits you’ll find beside the rotary gear lever is new instrument cluster with a large TFT customizable display.

Even though the interior of the 300 still looks respectable since its launch in 2011 – the interior is remanence of some 2011 parts – hard plastics can be found throughout and certain switchgear come off as subpar quality. What we did like however was the simplicity – the large 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen display fills in the space quite well and has excellent user functionality. Paired with the Beats Audio System and you got a jamming good jukebox on your hands.

As large cars go – the alternatives out there are limited, even to meh standards. No offense Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima. Having the V-8 companion, the $3295 Premium Package with the large Pano Roof and all the typical safety features, the 2016 Chrysler 300S’s comfortable, spacious interior speaks for itself when it comes time to looking at some meh options.

Price (As Tested):
2016 Chrysler 300S: $35,470
Destination: $995
Performance Specs:
5.7-liter V-8 HEMI – 363-horsepower/394lb-ft of torque – 0-60MPH: ±5.5 seconds
EPA MPG: 16/25/19 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average: 19 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 370 Miles
Featured Options:
BSW Performance Tires: $95
5.7L HEMI V-8: $3,000
Premium Group Package: $3,295
Grand Total: $42,855






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