Chrysler has simplified the 300 lineup a bit for 2014. The top-end performance model is now just called the 300 SRT, and the sedan is offered in five other trims: 300, 300S, 300C, 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition, and 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition. The Glacier and Motown special editions and the Luxury Series have all been dropped...
Chrysler revived the 300 nameplate in 2005 for a new full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan built atop the bones of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The Chrysler 300 was a smash hit, and we named it our 2005 Automobile of the Year. Editor-in-chief Jean Jennings said of the 2005 300: "At a time when the American auto industry needs heroes, the 300C wins the medal of honor, hands down. Chrysler's 340-hp, Hemi-headed honey has taken America by storm. To see this four-door behemoth hustling down the highway at triple-digit speeds is to crave desperately a turn at its whimsical faux-tortoiseshell wheel. It's the sort of big ballsy, luxurious car for which America used to be known -- a full-scale, rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered sedan looking to kick butt -- but with a twist provided by its clever German owners. That twist comes in the form of some important engineering elements -- front and rear suspension systems, the five-speed manumatic transmission, and optional four-wheel drive -- provided graciously by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class."
The second-generation Chrysler 300 was introduced in 2011 -- a study in evolution rather than revolution, even though Chrysler was no longer partnered with Daimler. The 2011 300 massaged the 2005 car's brutish design with more rounded edges, and the cabin became more upscale with high-quality trimmings that went toe-to-toe with many luxury marques. What didn't change were the big rear-wheel-drive platform, the availability of all-wheel drive, and the choice of V-6 and V-8 engines. Expect to see the 300 refreshed for the 2015 model year, but a full overhaul will wait until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest.
Chrysler has further simplified the 300 lineup for 2014, but there are still six different trim levels to choose from. Buyers can now select from (in ascending order) the base 300, the sporty 300S, the luxurious 300C, the stylish 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition, the sumptuous 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition, and the high-performance 300 SRT.
No matter the trim level, the 2014 Chrysler 300 has also scored well in crash testing. Last year, the large sedan achieved a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the 300 is also rated as a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The base 3.6-liter V-6 yields 292 hp (or 300 hp when in a 300S) and is paired with a ZF-designed eight-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is optional in all but the base 300 model. Hemi-powered cars are also available with all-wheel drive, but all V-8 cars are only offered with an aging five-speed automatic. For the ultimate in power, opt for the SRT. Its 6.4-liter V-8 cranks out 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and adaptive dampers iron out body roll on the racetrack and soak up potholes on the road. The Varvatos-fettled models add upscale touches like platinum, titanium, and black chrome exterior trim; open-pore wood interior trim; Nappa and Poltrona Frau leather; special twenty-inch aluminum wheels; and unique badging. The 300S is delineated from the rest of the lineup by blacked-out trim pieces inside and out along with twenty-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension (on V-8 models), and a standard Beats by Dr. Dre premium audio system.
The 300 is still a big, broad-shouldered chunk of Americana, but with more finesse, flair, and style than ever before.
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