Today’s Chrysler 300 was introduced in 2003 as a concept and entered production for model year 2005 sales. The 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD we test drove is a second-generation of that and is one of the last of the truly American-style big sedans, though its fuel economy may surprise most people. With power under the hood, AWD capability that bests many crossovers, and interior space rivaling some condominiums, the 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD is a beautiful and capable full-size sedan.
- Manufacturer: Chrysler
- Year, Model: 2014 300C AWD
- Class: Full-size sedan
- Powertrain: 3.6L V6, 8spd automatic
- Base Price: $39,195
- MSRP as tested: $44,675
- Availability: Now
The Chrysler 300 has a storied history, with roots in the post-war American love for big, fast cars. The “letter-series” Chrysler 300s were introduced in the mid-1950s and ran for a decade, with each year’s model having a letter after the “300” to denote its year. The 1955 C-300 was the first of these, followed by the 1956 300B, ’57 300C, etc. through to the letter L (skipping “I”). Production of these pre-muscle cars stopped in 1965, then returned in 1970 as the Hurst 300 and again in 1979 as the 300. Of course, these weren’t the only 300s being made.
The “non-letter series” began in 1962 as the Chrysler 300, replacing the Windsor, as a lower-end version and non-muscular option for the “letter-series.” These were produced until 1971. Production of a new Chrysler 300, this time the 300M, started again in 1998 and ran until 2004 when it was replaced with the first-generation Chrysler 300 as we know it now.
The Chrysler 300 is a beautiful car, with a touch of nostalgia to its exterior design meant to draw upon its roots as an American icon of style and muscle. The 300C AWD is the all-wheel drive variant and other limited-edition variants are also available (John Varvatos, Luxury, Motown, and Glacier).
The 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD we test drove was fully equipped. The MSRPs listed above do not include the $995 destination and handling fees and the base price listed is for the 300C AWD. The Chrysler 300 (rear-wheel drive) begins at $30,545.
Exterior and Interior Refinement
The 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD continues the trend of the 300 being a premium-level full-sized sedan with all that implies. The interior is georgeous in its top-level trim, as we had it, and very well refined in its base level trim as well. It’s comfortable, roomy, and nicely appointed. The signature Chrysler brushed chrome and analog clock are all there.
Seating in the Chrysler 300C is low and comfortable, but not difficult to slide into and out of thanks to the sedan’s large build. The back seats offer enough room for three adults to sit comfortably or up to three child safety seats side-by-side. The trunk is massive – a “Jersey three-body” with room for the shovel too.
The optional panoramic sunroof is well worth the extra cost for the brightness it brings when the interior begins to get stuffy on long trips. The comfortable ride, well-tuned suspension, and quiet purr of the engine are welcome on those long journeys as well.
Under the Hood of the 300C
The Chrysler 300C AWD sports a perfectly-proportioned 3.6-liter V6 mated to a smooth eight-speed transmission. This is becoming a popular powertrain option for many of Chrysler’s vehicles now thanks to its high fuel efficiency payoffs and relative low cost. The V6 produces 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, plenty of oomph for most needs. It makes a satisfying growl as it powers up the onramp or passes the semi-truck while remaining quiet otherwise.
Shifting is very smooth and rarely felt unless the throttle is being pressed hard. The 2014 300C has a muscular look outside that isn’t ignored by the guts of the beast.
Behind the Wheel of the 2014 300C AWD
Like the big, American sedans of old, the 2014 300C is smooth and easy to drive. It handles the bumps, small potholes, and other teeth-rattlers with ease. In the all-wheel drive version we had and the inclement weather that is the norm during a Wyoming January, we found the 300C to be more sure-footed and capable than many crossovers when traversing the ice and snow.
One thing most drivers will notice about the 2014 300 are the two major changes that make up its new driver controls: the single steering column switch control and the odd but very thoughtful shifter.
The steering column has only one stick coming off of it. It takes a little while to get used to it, mostly to undo the muscle memory most Americans have for using their right hand to control the windshield wipers and washers. Once you get it, though, it becomes so obvious that you wonder why everyone else hasn’t simplified things like this and put all of those controls onto one stick at the left too.
The shifter is another one. When you first enter the car and begin to shift into gear, you’ll probably take a light hand, so you’ll “page through” the gears (reverse, neutral, then drive) and wonder why they would make it such a painful process. Then, eventually, you’ll push the stick a little harder and it will “jump” forward to drive or back to park (depending on direction) and it will all make sense. This simple, but very effective shift control is a great addition while the shifter itself, which travels only a fraction of an inch for each shift, is nicely shaped to fit your hand.
Realistic 27 mpg
While on the road, the owner of the 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD can expect to realistically get 27 mpg or better out of their car when on the highway. It’s 18 mpg city rating is generally pessimistic as well. In a 60 mile span of driving which included about half city, half highway driving, we averaged nearly 24 mpg. Most of that efficiency comes thanks to that remarkably quiet eight-speed transmission. This leads us to believe that the 31 mpg highway rating for the two-wheel drive version is also easily doable.
There aren’t many big cars like the 300 on the road anymore. The Chevrolet Impala is a realistic competitor, as is the Hyundai Genesis. The Toyota Avalon (see our review of the Avalon Hybrid here) and Kia Cadenza are competitive, but not in the same size bracket. The Chrysler 300C AWD, however, has no competitors outside of the luxury class, the closest of which is probably the Acura TL.
Compared to these cars, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the only one with the same big American vibe and road appeal. The Hyundai Genesis is a little more refined than the 300 in some ways, but neither of these offer the same AWD capability that the 300C AWD does. For that, however, the lower-end Acura TL model offerings are competitively priced. For those who want the 300 in 2WD format and at a lower cost, the mechanically-identical Dodge Charger is a very similar vehicle at a much lower price point – assuming you like its more brash style.
- Exceedingly comfortable and capable ride and drive.
- Very commendable fuel economy.
- Big, comfortable, and classy.
- Pricey when options are added on.
- Styling may not appeal to everyone.
The 2014 Chrysler 300C AWD is a beautiful, well-built, and solid-feeling sedan with all of the appeal of a big, muscular and roomy American car of old. It’s advanced drivetrain and excellent AWD capability make it a contender against many crossovers and smaller sedans. There is little to dislike about this new 300.
Test Period Length and Limitations
Car was a manufacturer’s press loan, driven for one week. Driving situations included very inclement weather, family outings, city and highway mix, and snow and ice. A total of about 400 miles were put on the car during that test period.