2015 Jeep Renegade: Sturdy and reliable

While designed and engineered in the U.S., Renegade will be built in a Fiat factory in Italy.

HOLLISTER CALIFORNIA — Jeep. It’s one of the strongest brands in the automobile industry — in any industry.

From the go-anywhere World War 2 U.S. Army GP (pronounced “jeep,” meaning “General Purpose”) vehicle through the luxurification of the SUV business with the original Wagoneer, Jeep has established an image that even people who know nothing nor could care less about off-roading can understand.

The new 2015 Renegade, on sale later this spring starting at $19,995, aims to bring those characteristics to a new segment, at a new price point.

Four trim levels are offered. Sport is the base model, and for that $19,995 price, you have to forego things like air conditioning (which is an option). Jeep brand director Jim Morrison acknowledged it was a number they hoped would help bring younger prospects into the showroom.

Next up is North, which the Americans are calling Latitude (well, ‘north’ is a ‘latitude’) at $25,995, which is expected to be the biggest seller, followed by the all-singing all-dancing Limited at $31,995.

The fourth is Trailhawk at $30,995, especially designed for off-roading.

When Jeep decided that small SUVs was where they wanted to be, they scouted the Fiat-Chrysler-Jeep parts bin, but couldn’t find what they wanted. So an all-new platform was developed, which will also underpin the Fiat 500X, arriving later this year.

While designed and engineered in the U.S., Renegade will be built in a Fiat factory in Italy.

Head of Jeep design Mark Allen noted that Renegade had to look the part. The seven vertical slot grille is a given, as are big round headlamps, trapezoidal wheel wells, and almost-vertical windshield.

Jeep’s Morrison added that Renegade had to have off-road capability equivalent to other Jeep products, even if its customers might never use it.

But to succeed in this largely urban market, it also had to provide on-road comfort, easy handling, good fuel consumption and all the amenities these customers expect.

Striking this balance was critical.

Two four-cylinder powertrains are offered, a 1.4 litre turbo producing 170 horsepower with a six-speed manual transmission bolted on, and a 180-horse 2.4 litre non-turbo with a nine-speed automatic.

Front- or four-wheel drive is available with either engine, depending on trim level—Trailhawk and Limited come only with the 2.4 and 4×4.

Trailhawk also gets a revised front end allowing approach to at steeper angles, more ground clearance, skid plates under the car, special tires, and bright red tow hooks (two front, one rear, almost an admission that despite all this, you still might get stuck!)

It’s not some pantywaist click-in-the-rear-wheels-when-you-start-to-skid-in-your-driveway thing either, but a serious system with multiple programs (Auto, Mud, Snow, Sand, plus Rock and Hill Descent Control for Trailhawk) which adjust throttle response, transmission shift schedule and even steering response to help tackle conditions the vast majority of owners would never dare contemplate.

Yes, it will disconnect the rear wheels when extra traction is not called for, in the interest of fuel economy.

The on-road side of the equation is covered with independent strut suspension at both ends, featuring Koni dampers designed to be ‘frequency-sensitive’, with enough travel to soak up the big bumps, and rapid-fire response to handle the niggly bits.

All the modern safety features are on hand, including lane keeping, blind spot warning, etc. Regular readers will know these are mostly pointless, but they’re there if you need/want them.

Seven air bags too, but far more important are reactive front headrests to reduce the incidence of whiplash, the gift that keeps on giving.

The interior was designed under the direction of Klaus Busse who remained in the US when Mercedes sold its stake in Chrysler, and who gives lie to the stereotype of ‘unfunny German’.

He noted that some of the inspirations for the interior were sports you don’t want your children to play, like sand-surfing”.

The guy’s prescient too, because I did just that trying to get some of these pics…

The splotch on the tachometer, officially supposed to represent a ‘mud splatter’, was in fact inspired by a paintball hit Busse took in his goggles when he had his team participate in some of the ‘lifestyle’ activities the marketing people like to think their customers actually do.

Bright colours and intriguing designs do make Renegade’s insides a pleasant place to be. The high roofline leaves lots of space for people and stuff. A big cargo hold has a two-level floor to separate the dirty gear from the, well, less-dirty gear.

I’ve never been a sunroof fan, but Jeep is very proud of the ones available in Renegade. Yes, ‘ones’ plural, front and rear. In lower trim levels both can be removed and stowed in special bags in the cargo area. When power is added to the front one, you can still remove and stash the back one to more fully commune with nature.

Lots of connectivity too, with the available Uconnect media system with seven-inch touch screen, one of the better of such systems (admittedly, a very slow field…).

We had a Sport manual on the couple hundred kilometer run on a combination of freeways and twisty back roads to an off-road park south-east of San Jose, where we spent several hours.

The little engine doesn’t feel the least bit ‘turbo-ish’ — no perceptible lag, just smooth, even torque flow. The six-speed is very slick.

Jeep’s Morrison expects this powertrain to constitute about 15 per cent of Renegade sales, maybe three times the usual stick-shift take rate in this segment. He feels it will appeal to a younger crowd who might prefer a little more involvement with their vehicle.

Despite the trick Koni dampers, the ride felt a bit fidgetty on rough pavement. And I guess you can’t expect sports-car-sharp steering on a tall crossover, but it’s fine for what it is. Effort level is commendably light.

A former PR guy for Land Rover used to say you can’t win when setting up an off-road course. If the vehicle can’t do it, the vehicle is no good; if it can, the course wasn’t tough enough.

The key is to set something up that you wouldn’t think a Sherman tank could handle; if your vehicle survives, you win.

It’s always hard to see from mere pictures how steep these trails we drove on were—I sure found out when I got out to take the pics and started sand-surfing—or how big those rocks were. But the stiff body, supple suspension, and off-roading technology on the Trailhawk models we tested here handled it all with aplomb. You won’t be taking your Buick Encore down these trails.

Our drive home was in a ‘Latitude’ (‘North’ to us) with the 2.4 litre engine and nine-speed autobox. This transmission has felt a bit over-busy in other Chrysler products I’ve tested it in, sometimes not seeming to know which of the ratios is right for the moment. It felt more composed in this application, although our drive was mostly straight freeway driving, so not very demanding.

The larger engine actually has less peak torque than the 1.4 turbo, but it moves the vehicle along in a most appropriate manner.

In its segment, Renegade doesn’t really have a direct competitor.

Similar-sized, -priced and -specced vehicles like Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman just don’t have the off-road cred, not that they necessarily want it.

What all of those would kill to have is the crystal-clear brand image that Renegade gains from its Jeep heritage. If that is also what you want at this price point, Renegade is your truck.

When Jeep’s current product roll-out is completed, Renegade will be the entry-level vehicle. The current Compass and Patriot will be replaced next year by a single model which will bracket Renegade price-wise, but will be slightly less off-road-biased. Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are both quite new, and an even bigger luxury SUV has been rumoured for a couple years down the road.

Wrangler—well, it will always be the Wrangler.

It all seems to be working. As recently as five years ago, Jeep sold about 300,000 vehicles world-wide. In 2014, they shoved over one million out the doors.

By anyone’s measure, that is success.

2015 JEEP RENEGADE

Jeep Renegade: Four-door five-passenger small SUV. Front-wheel / four-wheel drive.

PRICE: Sport 4×2—$19,995; Sport 4×4—$25,995; North 4×2—$25,995; North 4×4—$27,495; Trailhawk 4×4—$30,995; Limited 4×4—$31,995.

ENGINE: standard Sport/North—1.4 litre inline four, single overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, turbocharged; standard Trailhawk/Limited, optional Sport/North—2.4 litre inline four, single overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder.

POWER/TORQUE, horsepower / lb.-ft: 1.4 litre Turbo four—160 @ 6,500 r.p.m. / 184 @ 2,500—4,000 r.p.m.; 2.4 litre four—180 @ 6,400 r.p.m. / 175 @ 4,400 r.p.m.

FUEL CONSUMPTION, Transport Canada City/Highway, l/100 km: Data not yet available. 1.4 litre Turbo—regular unleaded fuel acceptable, premium recommended; 2.4 litre—regular unleaded fuel.

COMPETITION: Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke.

WHAT’S BEST: Unbeatable off-road credentials, previously unavailable in the price segment; not to mention unbeatable off-road capability; handsome styling, inside and out; useful storage capacity; advanced technology.

WHAT’S WORST: Ride a bit gnarly on rough patchy pavement; sun visors a bit too small—OK, so I am being picky, but when driving west into a sunset…

WHAT’S INTERESTING: Might this be the vehicle that gets young people interested in cars again?

2015 Chrysler 200C

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Tested on Ignition

Conner Golden
Ignition Hellcat

These days, buyers are spoiled for choice if they want a large sedan to haul their family around, but also want something to entertain them when the youngsters have been dropped off for school. The 2015 BMW M3 and M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63 are great examples of a useable super sedan, but the high-cost of entry may turn off some buyers. A more affordable 2015 Chevrolet SS provides the V-8 power and ‘fun’ factor the more expensive sedans have, but what if the Chevy SS is a little too slow for your tastes?

Enter the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. With 707 hp and a top speed of over 200 mph, no one could blame Dodge for only going half-way with the Hellcat.

Our colleagues at Motor Trend the new Charger Hellcat through its paces to see what all the fuss is about in the latest Ignition video hosted by Carlos Lago. As it turns out, the sedan Hellcat has the performance to match the Dodge Challenger Hellcat coupe, and gains the priceless addition of two additional doors. More importantly, Lago discovers that the Charger Hellcat has the ability to settle down and have some form of civility, being just as much at home picking up groceries as it is running down the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds.

2015 Chrysler 300: The future looks pretty familiar, but fancier

By MALCOLM GUNN

The 2015 Chrysler 300 returns this year with

Talk about shelf life. It just keeps going . . . and going.

Yes, the Chrysler 300 has made quite a name for itself over the past 10 model years and returns for 2015 with a renewed focus on luxury, but with less muscle to brag about.
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A decade ago, the 300 and its mechanical twins, the Dodge Charger sedan and Magnum wagon, turned the full-size-passenger-car category upside down by shunning the more commonplace front-wheel-drive layout with a range of full-size rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles. Chrysler also revived the “Hemi” V8 as the hot-shot engine option at a time when such seemingly impractical powerplants were being given up for dead.

The 300 underwent a modest restyling for 2011 and now gets yet another life-extending refresh to keep it current. The new nosepiece includes a more prominent Bentley-like grille and lower air intake plus revised headlight pods (with LED running lights). In back, new taillights and blacked-out exhaust outlet panel are visible. Altogether the physical adjustments enhance what was already pretty sexy.

The interior receives new seat-cover designs and a three-spoke steering wheel, but the most obvious adjustment is the adoption of a rotary knob on the console in place of the traditional stick shifter. It might not be any more convenient to use, but it definitely declutters the cabin and provides easier access to the control panel and king-size 8.4-inch touch-screen display.

Partially carried over are the available drivetrains. Standard in the base 300 Limited, 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, or 300/264 in the 300S. Optional for all but the Limited is the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that puts out 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque.

On the down side, the 300 SRT model has been terminated, which means the 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V8 is gone, although the Dodge Charger and Challenger and the Jeep Grand Cherokee can be still be ordered with it. All-wheel-drive returns as an option, but it’s now only available with the V6.

For 2015, all engines are connected to eight-speed automatic transmissions that have been assigned the historic “Torqueflite” name. The eight-speed is an upgrade from the previous five-speed automatic found in V8 models and can be controlled by paddle shifters when the Sport button on the instrument panel is pressed. The gear changes occur more rapidly and the more immediate-acting sport-tuned steering mode kicks in.

As for fuel economy, the V6 rates 19 mpg in the city and 31 highway, while the Hemi’s numbers are pegged at a thirstier 16/25.

With a starting price of $32,400, the base 300 Limited arrives reasonably loaded with dual-zone climate control, leather seats (heated in front), keyless start, 12-way power driver’s seat and 17-inch wheels.

The 300S adds the more powerful V6 with dual exhaust, a 552-watt audio package, performance-tuned steering and suspension, 20-inch wheels and a rear backup camera.

The 300C includes a panoramic sunroof, navigation system with Wi-Fi hot-spot capability (it turns the 300 into a rolling Internet hub), wood-trimmed interior, 12-way power passenger seat and an Alpine sound package.

The full-load Platinum further tops up the 300C with fancier interior/exterior trim, premium leather seat and instrument panel covers, and power-adjustable pedals.
Among the many options is a range of high-tech collision-avoidance goodies along with rain-sensing wipers and a 19-speaker 900-watt Harmon Kardon-brand stereo.

Taking the Platinum route and adding the extras will push your Chrysler 300 purchase well past the $50,000 mark, however, given the nature of this full-size North American beast, you’ll possess a level of coddling content and impressive performance that would cost thousands more to replicate on just about any import-based luxo-sedan you can name.

What you should know: 2015 Chrysler 300

Type: Four-door, rear- /all-wheel-drive full-size sedan

Engines (hp): 3.6-liter DOHC V6 (292/300); 5.7-liter OHV V8 (363)

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Market position: The Chrysler 300 is uniquely positioned as the only North American sedan to offer both rear- and all-wheel-drive variants. That allows it to compete with similar European and Asian luxury models.

Points: Modest redesign yields an equally modest improvement in looks. ; Base V6 is likely all the engine you’ll need, but there’s just something about a Hemi; AWD option a lifesaver in wintry climates; Replacing shifter for a rotary dial won’t please traditional buyers; Limo operators will likely be happy to add the big Chrysler to their fleets.

Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; driver’s knee airbag; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.

MPG (city/hwy) 19/31 (3.6); Base price (incl. destination): $32,400

By comparison

Ford Taurus
Base price: $27,900
Ford’s big FWD or AWD sedan offers both non-turbo and turbo V6s.

Chevrolet Impala
Base price: $27,900
Full-sizer comes with four- and six-cylinder engines, but no AWD.

Toyota Avalon
Base price: $33,100
Much-improved sedan available in V6 or gas-electric hybrid versions.

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

2015 ram 1500 ecodiesel hfe - DOC610995

Ram Trucks  has managed to eek out another mile per gallon from the already fuel-efficient Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup,  proving the Detroit Auto Show  wasn’t all about brawny off-road trucks.  Ram’s new class-leading numbers are EPA-certified at 21 mpg city, 24 mpg combined, and 29 mpg highway. The upgraded mileage comes thanks to the HFE, or High Fuel Efficiency package. But technically, the Ram HFE is no different than any other Ram EcoDiesel, including its engine, transmission, and gearing specifications. It all comes down to equipment packaging and aerodynamics.

Engineers figured out the low-optioned Tradesman trim level combined with the shorter Quad Cab and six-foot, four-inch bed offers the slipperiest shape of the truck line. Add to that the prior knowledge of the wheel-to-wheel running boards and a tonneau cover’s ability to cut drag, and you’ve got the most aerodynamic Ram yet.

This makes the HFE a full 12 percent more efficient than the next-closest competitor, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost-powered 2015 Ford F-150,  rated at 26 mpg highway.

For current Ram EcoDiesel owners, adding the same tri-fold tonneau cover and extended side steps would likely result in improved fuel economy as well. Just don’t expect 29 mpg with a four-wheel-drive, Crew Cab truck.

Thankfully Ram didn’t neuter the Ram of its towing and hauling capabilities with tall gears, skinny tires, or a wimpy ECU tune. The truck is still able to haul 1,614 pounds in the bed and tow 8,050 pounds on the hitch.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Ram HFE still makes use of the Active Grille Shutters that open and close depending on cooling needs of the engine. When shut, air is diverted up and over the truck rather than through the engine bay and frame rails. Surprisingly, the truck comes standard with 20-inch wheels. Ram says the Goodyear tires provide the least rolling resistance of the truck’s current crop of stock rubber. Also available to dress up the base Tradesman is the body-colored front fascia from the Ram Express trim level. Selecting the HFE is the only way to get that sporty fascia and EcoDiesel on the same truck.

Spotting a HFE Ram is obviously best done by the HFE badge on the tailgate. Otherwise, the truck looks normal to the casual observer. The Ram Express front fascia, side steps, and tri-fold tonneau cover are the other give-a-ways as to the HFE’s fuel-sipping capabilities.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel - Driven

Laramie trim package shown/Not optional on HFE
There’s no difference here: all the same adornments – or relative lack thereof – found in the Tradesman trim level are present. Cloth seats and the base radio are the norm. Ram hasn’t announced detailed packaging yet, but things like power windows and locks might even be an optional extra as they are of the standard Tradesman trim level.

As a whole, the Ram HFE offers seating for six on its two bench rows. Rear leg is more compromised than in the larger Crew Cab, but there’s enough space for teens.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

At the heart of the operation is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. No modifications were done to the drivetrain at all, so things are just as they are on a non-HFE Ram. The compact diesel produces a respectable 240 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. Bolted to that is the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF that provides smooth shifts and quick responses.

Having driven a few Ram EcoDiesels, I can say the truck really does perform well. The average consumer probably wouldn’t even notice the engine from behind the wheel. Accelerating to 60 mph only takes 8.5 seconds and NVH is well controlled, even at full throttle.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

Ram did not announced pricing for the HFE trim level at its launch. Expect a nominal price hike over base Tradesman EcoDiesel price of $34,610 to cover the added wheels, side steps, and tonneau cover.

Ford F-150

Ford’s new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the next best choice in the fuel economy show down. Rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, the EcoBoost is only a few mpgs under the Ram. Considering an EcoBoost-equipped F-150 costs less than the Ram EcoDiesel and the difference in gas and diesel fuel prices, overall running costs would likely be cheaper with the Ford.

The twin-turbocharged V-6 isn’t afraid of work either. Boasting 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, the engine is able to lug around an 8,500-pound trailer.

Pricing for the 2.7-liter EcoBoost F-150 starts at $30,275 when equipped with the extended cab and six-foot, six-inch bed.

Chevrolet Silverado

Like Ford, Chevrolet doesn’t currently offer a HFE-style trim package. The Bow Tie has done it before with the XFE Silverado, but getting the most mileage from Chevy requires sticking with the V-6.

In the similarly configured Double Cab, Standard Box Silverado equipped with the 4.3-liter V-6, the EPA rates the truck at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Towing does trail the others here, coming in at 5,600 pounds. Power ratings are also in third place at 285 horses and 305 pound-feet. Customers can jump to the 5.3-liter V-8, however, for the extra power while getting 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

Prices for the so-equipped Silverado start at $31,325 for the V-6 and $1,095 more for the V-8.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE offers class-leading fuel economy while retaining great levels of towing and hauling capabilities. I suspect this will become a popular trim package thanks to the inevitable marketing coming its way and its (estimated) low cost. Of course, you can buy a lot of fuel with the $4,000 you saved by sticking with the 3.6-liter V-6 gas engine, especially considering the price difference between diesel and gasoline.

Either way, Ram now builds a full-size truck that gets darn near 30 mpg. That’s an impressive feat, to say the least. Expect the Ram HFE in dealers this spring.

First Drive: 2015 Chrysler 300 stands on its own merits

Chrysler’s big sedan gains precious metal

Maybe not so precious, since many vehicles now offer a Platinum trim, but Chrysler’s 300 is the newest member of the club. It also adds freshened ends, an eight-speed automatic for the V8, more features and connectivity to the classic Motown (made in Canada, by the way) luxury sedan. Whether to make room for Platinum, or not enough enthusiasts, there is no 2015 SRT 300.

Disclosure: Travel, accommodations, meals, and a predetermined route were provided to the author by the automaker.

Vehicles driven were U.S. specification but Canadian versions are expected to be of identical performance.

The new one may be called Platinum, but 300 is heavy metal in the best sense. The sheet-metal hasn’t changed like the Dodge Charger’s and remains the buff four-door it’s always been. A forward wedge is pronounced in profile, and few rear-drive sedans hunker down over the front wheels so well, seemingly stretched just to cover them.

A new nose adds a larger main grille aperture with more apparent angle and the Chrysler wings floating on it. Headlight contours are familiar but the LED jewelry is updated and most models with front fog lamps use LED for those as well. Chrome corner slivers are gone, yielding more acreage of painted surfaces outboard and a continuous slash of paint across the entire nose. Previously segmented fog light nacelles and lower grille are replaced by a single section.

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Out back is similar simplification: Chrysler wings, a bumper-top trim piece functional and aesthetic, and wide tailpipe outlets that might have pinched from a Jaguar XJ. All the rear lighting elements are LED, though I think it’d have been more trick if they used bi-color LED for turn indicators and brake lights.

The 300S gets handsome 20-inch wheels, a substantial rear spoiler and black out trim virtually everywhere—only the outer wings and tailpipes escape. Should you prefer solar heating, you can order the roof (including the shark fin antenna) painted black as well. On Platinum models much of the bright exterior trim is matte-finish, not unlike the aluminum-style finish Audi applies on their S models.

I think it’s a handsome car, and every 300 owner I’ve met doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.

Primary changes inside include a new control panel, instruments, steering wheel, shifter, and the Platinum’s extensive luxury upgrade: my uncle the animal-husbandry professor’s likely never seen this much cow inside any car this side of a Bentley or Roller.

Base cars get high-back cloth seats, but I’d find the way to get to the next level, where leather upholstery and thickly padded thrones that make old aviation seats look slim, never mind modern articulated hammocks. And those in back sacrifice nothing for room, unlike the Charger’s headroom-compromising roofline.

The steering wheel is shared with the 200, and has a nice button layout that doesn’t assume we all have third-graders’ thumbs. Beyond it are revised gauges with a seven-inch configurable display between, and my only complaint—including the S’s different markings—is the blue illumination that makes it look like a jeweller’s display case: It’s good for appearance but not for nighttime vision and recovery.

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Despite adding more buttons and more features the controls and touchscreen are as easy, if not moreso, to operate than before. The dash clock still echoes the grille’s geometry, there’s an elegant sweep to the console and there’s little glare. Climate and audio controls have nice shape and feel, but leave a fair amount of open panel around them, and the rotary shifter (which replaces the inverted golf putter that frustrated me more than any golf course) also looks like a less-than-ideal use of space. It’s not unattractive, just leaves me wondering what might have been.

Platinum ladles on the fancy stuff, including upgraded leather that covers the dash and door panels as well. It’s stitched in a quilted design that opens to a more traditional vertical weave on the seats, and applied horizontally from the dash rearward on the doors. And it’s offered in some striking color schemes you’d expect from a British luxury maker, not Detroit.

The only thing at odds here was the heated steering wheel: the two shades of leather warm the hands, but that matte-finish trim strip around the periphery felt cold as the outside door handles.

Chrysler’s UConnect 8.4-inch touchscreen is the default setup, with Bluetooth hands-free, SiriusXM for a year, and a media hub with SD card slot. Audio systems remain as before, from a 276-watt, six-speaker setup to harman/kardon’s 900-watt, 12-channel, 19-speaker reproductive arrangement. Expanding in-your-face attitude to in your ears as well, the S comes with a 552-watt Beats jukebox with subwoofer.

Uconnect has been updated. Where before it announced a sender and text, you can now reply with semi-canned message, it’ll read it back to you error-checking, then send it hands free. US models (Canada, not yet, at publication) have integrated Yelp, on-demand wifi, Aha, iHeartRadio, Slicker and Pandora.

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Adaptive cruise control is now full-stop capable; when it stays stopped for two seconds, tap “resume” to reactivate. Forward collision warning has mitigation braking (degree dependent on speed), and sensitivity for lane-departure and lane-keeping is adjustable.

Some of these systems are optional, but they all appear to help more than annoy as some do.

Every 300 now comes with the 3.6-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic standard, and the V8 gets the eight-speed for 2015, but the bigger motor no longer offers AWD. Although the AWD system is transparent and on-demand, engaging Sport mode switches it to full-time.

Suspension has been mildly recalibrated and alignment settings rejiggered, keeping 300 a stable, hushed cruiser. It’ll get down a challenging road with surprising verve given its soothing demeanor, but you’d not want to consider it the equal of a more sporting sedan like a Jag XF or Audi S6. S models have decidedly firmer suspension for a larger performance increase than ride comfort decrease, so a V8 S is as close as you’ll get to the SRT.

All 300 models get electric-assist steering to help with fuel economy and make maneuvering easier. I didn’t get to try a 2014 back-to-back, but the 2015 feels just as good as before and increases effort with cornering load, and it doesn’t have the characteristic free-wheeling feel while exercising the wheel in a tight parking lot. There’s not much road feel but seems appropriate in the luxury mission, and you can change the effort through touchscreen menus.

With 292 horses (an even 300 in S trim) and 260 lb-ft of torque, you’ll have to give the V6 accelerator a good prod for serious motivation, but the transmission’s lost some its laziness and better matches the torque deficit to the 1,828-kg minimum weight. The payoff is fuel economy rated 12.4/7.7 L/100 km (city/highway). I tend to do better on the highway but worse in the city; all-wheel drive will cost you almost a litre on the highway, less than half in the city.

The 5.7-litre V8 gets a minor bump in economy with the new eight-speed, but it’s quicker at virtually any speed given the added cogs. I more notice the sound and effortlessness from an additional 134 lb-ft of torque than I do the extra 63 horses, and I know few people who can match the 14.8 l/100 city consumption.

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I think a $40,095 S a better buy than a $37,395 Touring, and the Platinum makes a decent argument at $44,000, probably not quite $50,000 all tarted up. Add $2,200 for all-wheel drive, or more for a Hemi because it includes stouter brakes, transmission and other bits. Since the Chevrolet SS isn’t sold here, that leaves the Charger as the sole direct domestic competitor, and the 300 fits adults better figuratively and literally. Hyundai’s new Genesis is a worthy challenger, but it starts at $43,000, the V8 only loaded from $62,000; Mercedes’ E-Class and Infiniti’s Q70 have similar pricing issues.

Whether or not national pride plays a role, the 300 can stand on its own merits and has the performance chops to back up the S exterior or the quiet luxury you would expect from a Platinum badge. Choose your colours carefully and you’ll have a certain amount of exclusivity to go with it.