The Chrysler 300S is the “sports” themed trim level of the popular Chrysler 300 full-size luxury sedan. It’s plush and robust like the others in the 300 lineup, but this S designation gets you paddle shifters, good looking 20-inch rims, and 10 speakers—one of them in the trunk—courtesy of Beats by Dr. Dre. This is the seventh year of the second-generation 300, in what might be the last year for the model. It's a good car, but the 300 does terribly at resale. We checked resale prices and found plenty of last year's model available with minimal miles selling for tens of thousands under the new 2017 price of $38,000-42,000. Depreciation at this scale merits mention right up front, especially when the 2015, 2016, and 2017 models are essentially the same car. Our tester came in handsome Crystal Granite exterior paint and the S Model Appearance package, which gets us a rear spoiler and LED fog lamps.
Who Is it For?
This Chrysler 300S is for the professional set with some money in the bank, a bit of a chip on the shoulder, and a penchant for American-made.
Where Did We Test It?
The Chrysler 300S showed up at The Drive’s Brooklyn HQ, and then went upstate with us to Fishkill, NY for the weekend.
The First Thing You Notice
The Chrysler 300S is a ruggedly good looking sedan. It’s got good lines, a lot of presence, and aside from the somewhat ugly notchback trunk, there's very little to dislike. Inside, first you notice the quality seats ... then you notice the garish instrument cluster, which rivals Acura, Honda, and Subaru for over-hyper instrumentation. The design of this cluster seems aimed at teenagers who would otherwise be looking at a video game screen—an odd choice for a car clearly aimed at the adult driver.
Thing They Don’t Want You to Notice, But You Do Anyway
This car looks more powerful than it is. (More on that in a bit.)
Car Is Good at
The 2017 Chrysler 300S is a fantastic road trip car, and a very good car for commuting and the suburbs. Quiet, capable, good looking, and easy to operate, with plenty of knobs and switches for frequently used controls. (Less-used functions can be operated through the decent touch-screen infotainment.) The seats are supremely comfortable, and the car gets well focused and bright headlights (good headlights are more rare than you'd think). The stereo is pretty good, and the instrument cluster and the touch screen both dim to the perfect level when the headlights come on.
Car is bad at
When we measured (in a completely unscientific manner), the 300S took eight seconds to go from zero to sixty. What’s that about? Fuel economy isn't great, either: we only saw between 20 and 21 mpg. No adaptive cruise control at this trim level is disappointing. The shifter knob feels cheap, falling well short of, for example, Jaguar's excellent efforts on that front. The leather wrap of the steering wheel is shoddy—so much so that it even shows in photography (notice the bulges). The paddle shifters are pointless and their usefulness is hampered by their close proximity to the behind-the-steering-wheel sound system control buttons—meaning that a sloppy snap of the paddle shifter can switch your audio from FM to AM.
Ratings 1 (Very Poor) to 5 (Excellent)
Hauling people: 4
Hauling stuff: 4
Curb appeal: 4
Wow factor: 3.5
Would you buy it?
I probably would, and I’d probably enjoy it a lot. The 300S is really nice without being “fancy,” which appeals to me. It’s good-looking and understated at the same time. It’s well suited to long-distance driving, which I do a lot of. And it’s American, which feels surprisingly safe these days, as if I were less likely to get beat up by a stranger who owns a truck (which brings me to this thought: Is the car-buying public going to be newly scared of driving a foreign car in this newly xenophobic “America First” United States?).
Quickly, let’s recap: Really nice without fanciness. Rugged good looks. Underwhelming performance. Absurdly quiet cabin. Extremely easy to drive. Super comfortable seats. Very well organized and easy to use controls. Decent touch screen and menus. This all adds up to a really decent common sense car.
As mentioned in the intro, the resale drops so fast on these guys, buying a 2015 or 2016 with low miles would probably be your best bet—and in fact a two-year-old 300 with 30,000 miles priced in the mid-twenties is what I'd consider a great deal on a car that's probably good for 150+ thousand miles. Just don't plan on reselling it.
PRICE (AS TESTED): $38,175 ($43,950)
POWERTRAIN: 3.6-liter V6, 24 valve VVT engine
MPG (CITY/HIGHWAY): 18/27 (21 mpg observed when tested)
PERFORMANCE: Not quite there.
PRETENSION LEVEL: Thankfully, none.