Before we talk about the 2016 Chrysler 300S, let’s go back in time to the 1950s. Chrysler had just developed its new Hemi engine. In order to race it at NASCAR events, they needed the right car. Thus was born the Chrysler 300. The 300 was an homage to the number of horsepower created by that engine. Chrysler’s evil plan worked with the 300 winning 27 races that year.
So what does all this have to do with the 2016 Chrysler 300S? It all boils down to one option: the Hemi engine. I love horsepower. I mean who doesn’t enjoy slamming down the throttle and getting a great whiplash? Having said that, I’m not normally a huge fan of spending thousands of dollars to add more power to a car that already has plenty.
You see the base 300S has a V6 Pentastar engine that delivers 292 horsepower. Just for the record, that is a lot. For a lot of cars you’ll pay extra just to land there. So why would you pay $3,000 more to bump up to the 5.7 liter V8 Hemi engine? Because it’s worth it. With 363 horses, it’s nearly 25% more powerful. And it’s power you can feel.
But just as important is the history of the 300. This was created for the sole purpose of housing the Hemi engine. While there’s nothing wrong with the V6, the Hemi just belongs under the hood. If you’re looking for better mileage, then the Hemi isn’t your choice. You’ll get 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for a combined number of 19 mpg. That combined number is exactly what I got during my week with the 300S.
I’ve written before about how I give Chrysler credit for not using the cookie cutter shape that so many other sedans have done. This car stands out. It’s blunt front end and slab sides don’t look particularly aerodynamic, and that’s just fine. The design is more than a decade old, and Chrysler has tweaked it occasionally to update the styling. I’m not sure how much longer they can play that game, but I hope they don’t just throw in the towel and start looking like everyone else.
Inside, the 300S has plenty of room. I compared its rear leg room with the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Impala and Honda Accord, and the Chrysler was the winner. In other words, if you’re hauling people around, this is a great choice. The S model has a big “S” stitched into the nice bucket seats. That’s especially great if your name is Steve Smith. If you’re looking for comfort, the 300 is definitely a great choice. It’s a great cruising car and comfortable for daily driving as well.
I’m a huge fan of the Chrysler Uconnect system. That’s the display interface that controls so many of the cars functions including climate and entertainment. Frankly, Chrysler does it better than anyone. It’s easy to use and understandable. I usually hate the word “intuitive”. Car makers (and lots of other manufacturers) throw it around even though it’s not always true. In this case, “intuitive” is a great word for the Chrysler system. While I don’t think any car’s navigation system is as good as my phone’s Google Maps, Chrysler’s is at least easy to use.
My test car wasn’t the top of the line 300. As a result, I wouldn’t describe the interior of the car as luxurious. It was nice, but it didn’t try to pretend it was something it wasn’t. After all, the base 300 starts around $32,000.
Since I’m talking price, let’s talk about my test car. Base price for the 300S is $35,470. Throw in the Premium Group of options (which includes stuff like a bigger sunroof, ParkSense, blind spot warnings and a bigger display) for $3,295 and the $3,000 Hemi option and the final price was $42,855. You could skip the Premium Group, but frankly the safety options and the bigger display are worth it. And I’ve already made it clear what I think about the engine. If you’re trying to save money, bump down to the basic 300 Limited and keep the option packages.
While my test car worked great, Fiat Chrysler has been plagued with some reliability issues. Consumer Reports called the company out earlier this year for a series of problems across their models. I keep hoping that one of these days Fiat Chrysler will step up to the plate and solve them because so many of their cars are great choices. Does that mean I wouldn’t buy one? Hard to say, but I’d definitely consider getting an extended warranty.
You can buy plenty of solid four door sedans with aerodynamic shapes and eco-friendly engines. If you want big and powerful, there’s only one way to go in this price range and the Chrysler 300 is the best option. Besides, think of all the fun you’ll have telling your friend about the history of the 300.