2015 Chrysler 200C

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.

2015 Chrysler 200 suddenly rivals Accord, Camry and Altima

The 2015 Chrysler 200 has made the midsize sedan market a much more interesting place. Sales leaders like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima have a real rival in this handsome new Chrysler. A wide range of options and a quality cabin are just some of the reasons Chrysler is back on the midsize map.

BY Nick Kurczewski
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The Chrysler 200S is available with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, or optional 3.6-liter V-6. We like the extra power of the larger motor, though the standard 9-speed automatic occasionally hunted to find the right gear.
You don't need to pour on the options, but it's hard to deny the 19-inch alloy wheels don't give the 200S sedan extra road presence.

Chrysler is suddenly a contender in the hugely competitive midsize sedan segment, a market dominated by the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima, to name a few.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan isn’t perfect, but it’s a quantum leap forward in terms of style, refinement, and available features compared to the previous 200. In fact, the new base version of the 200 is even slightly cheaper than the outgoing model (by all of $95 bucks).

Starting at $22,695, including destination charge, the Chrysler 200 is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 184-horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels.This powertrain delivers a highway fuel economy average of 36 mpg.

For buyers who want more power, there’s an optional 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 295-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. An all-wheel-drive system is also available, but only with the punchier V-6 motor. A 200 with the V-6 and front-wheel-drive returns 32 mpg, while the same engine mated to all-wheel-drive dips to a 29 mpg highway average.

All models include a 9-speed automatic transmission, which is controlled by a rotary knob on the lower half of the center console. Staying on the subject of interiors, the cabin of the new 200 happens to be one of this sedan’s best features.

The heavier you go with the options, the more bells and whistles (not to mention real wood trim and “bronze chrome” interior accents) get scattered around the interior. Yet even in base format, minus any fancy ventilated front seats or heated steering wheels, the Chrysler 200 cabin has a very attractive and robust look and feel to it.

The console is especially useful, with loads of cubby holes and storage space. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, I found the rear seat to be comfortable, though some rivals definitely offer more rear legroom. The trunk is not very deep, but offers 16 cu. ft. of space and a 60/40 folding rear seatback.

At the top of the Chrysler 200 range is the 200C, which carries a base price of $26,990.

My first test car was a 200S AWD model, with the V-6 engine and all-wheel-drive hardware. With extras like 19-inch alloy wheels, navigation, rear back-up camera, upmarket sound system, remote start, and LED daytime running headlamps and fog lamps, amongst other options, the sticker price was $33,460.

The 200 really held its own over some surprisingly twisty and demanding roads outside Louisville, Kentucky, where Chrysler staged the driving event. Uncooperative weather didn’t help, though soggy roads didn’t rattle the composure of the suspension.

The steering was accurate but, like many vehicles in this segment, it isn’t overly communicative – I’ll get back to this point later. In terms of overall comfort and refinement, however, this Chrysler really shines.

After years in the midsize wilderness, Chrysler finally has a sedan to take on the best in the business thanks to the new 2015 200.

Now if only the 9-speed transmission lived up to its on-paper promise. A 6-speed automatic is normal in this segment, so I had high hopes for this gearbox. For the most part, it’s fine, and its operation fades into the background.

Yet when it gets confused, the transmission shifts abruptly or holds onto a gear way too long. I played with the steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters, only to discover that ninth gear is virtually useless – power is non-existent, even the punchier V-6 engine is happier one or two gears lower.

For the afternoon drive, I switched to fully-loaded and 4-cylinder-powered 200C. There’s no getting around the fact the 184-hp inline-4 doesn’t have anywhere near the grunt of the V-6. Then again, without the added weight of the larger engine, along with the all-wheel-drive system, this front-wheel-drive 200 immediately felt lighter on its feet.

Chrysler expects up to 40-percent of 200 sedan buyers to opt for the Limited trim level, which starts at $24,250.

Chrysler expects up to 40-percent of 200 sedan buyers to opt for the Limited trim level, which starts at $24,250.

The steering had a little more verve to it, and with less power on tap, the transmission didn’t hunt as much for the perfect gear.

Stuffed full of features, the 200C FWD model was priced at $31,460. That’s only $2-grand less than a V-6 and AWD version I’d driven in the morning.

This car included a laundry-list of options, however, including the larger alloys, upgraded seating, LED lighting, and 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation found in the V-6 model. The Premium Group ($995) interior trim, featuring wood trim and bronze chrome accents, is quite classy too.

Some have criticized the 2015 Chrysler 200's exterior for looking similar to a typical Audi sedan (especially at the rear, and in the shape of the tail lights). We doubt Chrysler will mind that comparison.

Electronic stability control and eight airbags are standard across the 200 lineup. Yet it’s the SafetyTec Package that stands out as an exceptional value.

Only available on the 200C trim level (which starts at $26,990), this includes adaptive cruise control, brake assist for emergency braking, blind spot and cross path detection, front collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, rain sensing wipers, along with parallel park and perpendicular park assist.

That is an absolute hoard of safety content, all for an incredibly reasonable $1,295 – and the extra outlay needed for the 200C model, of course.

The Chrysler 200's optional Premium interior adds wood trim, ventilated seats, and bronze chrome accents.

You don’t need to add more than $10,000 to the base price to enjoy the Chrysler 200. Pick and choose your options carefully, and you’ll still walk away with one very good midsize sedan.

It doesn’t rewrite the rulebook, but the Chrysler 200 thrusts the American automaker right back into the thick of the midsize sedan segment – and far higher towards the top-of-the-class than anyone, myself included, had expected.

Review: Dodge Charger still going strong with 8th generation

By Arv Voss, Auto Impressions 12/18/14

Washington D.C. >> The four-door 2015 Dodge Charger continues the evolutionary path from its muscle-car roots, classic design and historic racing heritage to today’s stellar high performance, featuring state-of-the-art engineering and technology.

The first Dodge Charger appeared in 1964 as a concept vehicle based on a two-door Dodge Polara, but as a one-off, open air roadster. It was conceived and built to help introduce the company’s new hemispherical head performance 426 HEMI engine. The following year, the 1965 Dodge Charger Concept vehicle made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show, illustrating the advanced design direction of the brand. The first generation production Charger appeared from 1966 to 1967. Generation Two ran from 1968 to 1970 followed by Gen III — 1971 to 1974. The fourth generation ran from 1975 to 1978. Generation V didn’t appear until 1981 and ran for 6 years, but as a front-wheel drive 2+2 hatchback, designed by Chrysler Corporation’s European design and engineering team. The hatchback design was dropped in 1987. Following a 12-year hiatus, homage was paid to the performance Dodge Chargers of the earlier muscle-car era with the debut of the 1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It appeared as a fastback four-door performance coupe. Generation VI represented the years from 2006 to 2010. The Seventh Gen Charger ran from 2011 to 2014, with the 2014 Dodge Charger 100th Anniversary Edition celebrating Dodge’s Centennial year, which brings us to the eighth generation of Chargers — clearly the best yet.

This latest iteration Charger is the only four-door muscle-car in production, and it is the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world. The new Charger is not, by the way, simply a Dodge Challenger with two extra doors. There are six distinct trim levels of the new Charger: SE, SE AWD, SXT, SXT AWD, R/T, R/T Road & Track, R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat. All Chargers are rear wheel Drive with the exception of the V-6 SE and SXT models, which are optionally available with AWD, and all also come with zinc steering wheel mounted paddle shifters except the SE Trim.

Four engines are on hand to energize the various individual model Chargers: a 3.6-liter PentaStar V-6 with up to 300 horsepower and 264 foot-pounds of torque when equipped with the Rallye Group; a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with four-cylinder mode fuel cylinder technology — it delivers 370 horses and 395 foot-pounds of torque; an SRT 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 is next with 485 horsepower and 475 foot-pounds of torque; a 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat Supercharged V-8 is the cream of the crop cranking out an incredible 707 horsepower along with a whopping 650 foot-pounds of torque.

There are three transmissions gearing energy to either the rear, or all four wheels: an 845RE Torqueflite 8-speed automatic with Auto Stick featuring Adaptive electronic control, optional Sport mode or paddle-shifted driver interactive manual control, a five clutch-pack design with only two open clutches in any gear, an off-center line pump with low-viscosity oil for reduced spin loss and a Torque converter lock with turbine torsional damper for low lock-up speeds in 1st through 8th gear; an 8HP70 Torqueflite 8-speed automatic also with Auto Stick, and featuring Adaptive electronic control, with optional Sport mode or paddle-shifted driver interactive manual control with Eco mode; and finally, an 8HP90 Torqueflite automatic 8-speed with Adaptive electronic control featuring full manual control via the gear selector or paddle shifters, with three SRT-unique selectable modes: Street, Sport and Track (with performance shifting and gear holding features).

In terms of its exterior styling, the new family muscle-car Charger displays a familiar and easily recognizable Coke-bottle form with scalloped body sides, menacing front crosshairs, a bold athletic stance, signature LED “racetrack” tail lamps that have all received a major redesign. The overall look of the Charger presents cleaner lines that create a sleek, chiseled and lighter appearing mass. The hood, fenders, front and rear fascias, headlamps, tail lamps, front doors and rear spoiler have all been resculpted, creating a more seamless look with improved aerodynamics — only the rear doors and the roof are unchanged. The rear makeover starts at the C-pillar’s touchdown point, which is moved rearward, creating a more exaggerated fastback appearance, combined with a shorter rear overhang. A new three-piece spoiler is more integrated into the deck lid, while the signature racetrack LED tail lamp showcases the same continuous glowing ribbon of light that debuted on the new 2014 Durango. The center high-mounted stop lamp is relocated from the top of the deck lid to the roofline inside the back glass, allowing the Charger’s backup camera to be centered.

Inside, the new Charger exhibits a restyled and driver-focused interior featuring new premium, soft-touch materials, a new customizable 7-inch full-color, driver information display instrument cluster and a new instrument panel center stack with next-generation Uconnect Access touchscreen and available HD audio system. The interior is instantly brought to life by its unique premium aluminum-lithograph driver bezel, which enables a seamless, billeted and highly detailed appearance, that carries through the instrument cluster and center console. The instrument cluster also received a high-tech treatment and now includes a full-color 7-inch DID, similar to the one found in the 2014 Dodge Durango and Dodge Dart. Standard on all models, this full color high-definition screen allows drivers to customize how information is presented in more than 100 ways.

A redesigned thick rim, three-spoke steering wheel with available rev-matching paddle shifters frames the Charger’s new instrument cluster. Buttons controlling driver information functions are now larger and illuminated for easier operation. Charger’s audio controls are still found on the back of the upper steering wheel spokes.

Looking to the center stack, the 2015 Charger features the latest Uconnect Access suite of technologies. A performance-inspired all-new leather-wrapped electronic gearshift lever is standard on both V-6 and V-8 models. The fully electronic shifter mimics a linkage shifter, providing tactile and visual cues for gear location. Performance-contoured seats provide optimum support and comfort with dual-density foam, spring suspension and top layers of light-density foam sewn into the covers.

The amount of storage space is designed for optimal use, and the wrapped center armrest opens for easy access to Charger’s USB port, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, SD card slot or 12-volt auxiliary power outlet.

Oversized door pockets feature grained surfacing on all four doors and integrate bottle holders. Abundant ambient LED lighting with a white glow is located in foot wells, door-pull cups, overhead console (to light the center console below), door map pockets and cubby bin.

Pricing for the 2015 Dodge Charger will range from $27,995 for an SE V-6 RWD to $63,995 for the SRT Hellcat.

During the national press preview and launch of the new Charger, my driving partner and I began our journey in a pre-production Dodge Charger SRT Supercharged Hellcat on the way to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia for track testing in the rain. Our Charger Hellcat test car wore an exterior sprayed pitch black with a black and sepia toned interior. The base price was set at $62,295 while options including: the Laguna Leather Group, Harman Kardon® Audio Group, power sunroof, Uconnect 8.4 Touchscreen with AM/FM/SXM/BT and NAV GPS Navigation 20-inch tires and destination charge elevated to final sticker amount to $69,165. We were also able to test lesser models, both on road and on the challenging two-mile track with 10 turns. There was even a specially equipped Police Pursuit Dodge Charger available for testing on the track, complete with operational lights and siren.

SUMMARY: The 2015 Dodge Charger unquestionably lives up to its billing. It is truly the quickest, fastest and most powerful four-door sedan in the world, and with six different trim levels one should be able to find one to suit both their budget and performance requirements. There’s literally a Charger for everyone and all of the V-8 models certainly deliver an exhilarating time behind the wheel in the wet or on dry pavement. The Hellcat is definitely the most potent, and it serves up sports car performance with family sedan practicality and versatility. Aside from the Hellcat’s incredible acceleration, the exhaust note is nearly orgasmic. Put the pedal to the metal, and relish in the exotic V-8 note.

Certainly not a nod to frugality, but the new Charger is a hoot when nailing the throttle off the line (using the launch control or not) and lighting up the tires — smoke ’em if you got ’em. No water necessary for slipping and sliding. The opportunity to enjoy the prowess of the new Charger on twisting roads and in freeway driving was most enjoyable but the track exercises offered the opportunity to indulge in excess without the risk of receiving a present from John Law for excessive speed or reckless driving.

The redesigned cabin provides a warm and inviting atmosphere, along with being performance oriented and driver focused, and the materials, fit and finish are certainly a cut above the levels offered by many competitors. Don’t be surprised if there is a flooding of used Vipers on the market soon, as the Charger is not only more comfortable than a Viper, and more practical, seating up to five, and in the case of the SRT Hellcat, the performance is superior to that of the Viper as well.

Handling characteristics are stellar and the ride quality is comfortably compliant, while also delivering exceptional stability. Whether on-road or on-track, Charger SRT owners may personalize their drive experience via an all-new Drive Modes feature. Drive Modes tailor the driving experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering (Charger SRT only), paddle shifters, traction and suspension. Drive Modes are pre-configured for Sport, Track and default settings, while the custom setting lets the driver customize the drive experience to their favorite settings. Custom — Allows the driver to personalize the vehicle’s performance. Sport — Delivers increased vehicle performance capability over the Default Mode. Track — Delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces, and Default — Activates automatically when starting the vehicle. The Drive Mode feature is controlled through the Uconnect system and may be accessed by Pushing the SRT button on the instrument panel switch bank; Selecting “Drive Modes” from the “SRT & Apps” menu; or by Selecting “Drive Modes” from within the Performance Pages menu.

The Dodge Charger SRT with a Hellcat engine comes standard with two key fobs — red and black. The red key fob is the only key that can unlock the full horsepower and torque potential of the Charger SRT Hellcat engine; while the black key fob limits the driver to a reduced engine output.

Valet Mode is provided on both Charger SRT and Charger SRT with a Hellcat engine. With the Valet Mode activated, the following vehicle configurations are enabled: Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm; transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal; transmission will treat the manual shifter position the same as the drive position. Traction, steering and suspension are set to their “Street” settings; steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled; Drive Mode functions are disabled; Electronic Stability Control is enabled to full-on; and Launch Control is disabled. The driver can activate and deactivate Valet Mode with a personal four-digit PIN code they create. This should also work well on teen-aged drivers.

In the final analysis, the 2015 Dodge Charger is a far cry from its predecessors and should please nearly all individuals from mild to wild. My personal favorite is of course the SRT Hellcat Supercharged, but the other versions aren’t chopped liver either. There’s no “Dodging” the fact that this latest iteration Charger sets the high performance bar considerably higher than ever before.

First Drive: 2015 Chrysler 300

The March of Progress

By Scott Evans | December 21, 2014

Progress is inevitable. Sometimes it happens quickly, but often it’s a slow march. Enough small steps forward, though, can add up to a bigger total leap. Such is the story of the 2015 Chrysler 300. It’s composed of myriad small improvements that when taken together turn a good car into a genuinely better car.

The biggest of the small changes to the updated 300 rings in at 33 percent, and it’s the increased size of the grille. Chrysler admits the previous model, while a much better overall car than its predecessor, didn’t have the presence and attitude of the 2005 car we all love. This car, the Chrysler people say, is inspired by the 2005 car, though I see more Jaguar XJ in it. Making the nose taller and reducing the slope of the hood would help, but that would no doubt run afoul of pedestrian impact regulations. Elsewhere, new taillights, wheels, and exhaust tips differentiate the new car from the old, though perhaps not to the casual observer.

The next largest small change stares you in the face. The new instrument cluster shows clear influence from the all-new Chrysler 200 and adds a great deal of functionality. The dials remain watch-like in appearance, but they’re now split by a 7.0-inch customizable display that provides the driver with far more information that’s much clearer and easier to read. Just in front the cluster is another small but noticeable change: the steering wheel. Lifted from the 200, it’s a stylish piece that’s comfortable to hold with intuitively laid-out controls. It’s connected to a new, fully electric power steering system that few owners will notice as being different. Steering response is linear and appropriately quick for a large, semi-luxury sedan. The weighting increases naturally as you turn the wheel, and if you dig deep enough in the center touchscreen’s menus, you can change the overall weight. There’s no road feel in the wheel, but the old car didn’t really have any, either, and it isn’t sorely missed in a big cruiser like this.

The steering wheel isn’t the only new round thing in the interior. There’s also Chrysler’s rotary shifter, plopped unceremoniously on the center console. Functionally, it’s worlds better than the old electric rocker it replaces, but an opportunity was missed to actually integrate it into the interior design or take advantage of its compact size to free up some needed storage space on the console. Instead, it’s been shoehorned into the hole where the old shifter sat, and that’s that.

The good news is it’s still attached to Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic transmission, and it’s got an improved Sport mode. Select S, and the throttle tightens up, the downshifts get more aggressive, gears are held longer, and the transmission will hang out in lower gears than normal to keep the engine in the meat of the powerband. Should you choose to use the paddle shifters while in S, the transmission will go full manual and won’t revert back to auto. Press the separate Sport button on the dash to tighten up the steering, as well. Press that button without selecting S on the transmission, and it’ll also sharpen up the throttle response and enable the paddle shifters, though the transmission will revert to auto if you don’t touch them for a while. All the above transmission talk applies to both V-6 and V-8 models. The ancient five-speed auto that held back V-8 300s for so long is finally gone, replaced with the quicker- and smoother-shifting eight-speed. Better ratios and programming fully exploit the V-8’s power and willingness to rev in ways the five-speed never could, and it buys you an extra city and combined MPG, as well. For the 15 percent of 300 buyers who opt for the V-8, it’s a godsend. Finally, the V-8 car drives as well as the V-6 car, but with more power and more rumble. Although we mourn the loss of the under-appreciated (to the tune of less than 1 percent of all 300 sales) 300 SRT, the 5.7-liter Hemi is plenty quick in its own right and feels faster now that the transmission can keep up. The unloved V-8 AWD model is likewise departed. The standard 3.6-liter V-6 also is perfectly quick. With up to 300 hp in S models, the V-6 is tuned to provide plenty of low-end torque, and for most people, it’ll feel nearly as spritely around town as the V-8. It doesn’t have the raw power to compete on the dragstrip, but it’s plenty strong enough to satisfy the average driver from light to light. It even makes a pleasant growl in the process.

If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about the 300, it’s how the car drives. It still feels like a big, imposing car. The big, long dashboard rolling out ahead of you into the long, wide hood gives a sense of length to the car, and the wide, short windshield seems to stretch the car from one side of the lane to the other. From behind the wheel, it imparts a feeling of grandeur and privilege generally reserved for much more expensive cars. Despite some efforts to reduce the curb weight, the 300 still feels big and heavy when you pitch it around a corner. The seats, while quite comfortable, aren’t made for serious handling maneuvers, and though the suspension keeps the car composed at all times, it can’t mask the physics at play. The weight transfer evident while cornering discourages hardcore performance driving, but driven well within its limits, the 300 grips and handles very well and is still fun on a good road. Pushed to those limits, the car will alternatively understeer if you carry too much speed into the corner or oversteer if you’re too assertive with the throttle on the way out, though in both cases the computer is happy to intervene and keep the car pointed in the direction you originally intended. Ride quality remains as good as ever, compliant and isolating for comfortable cruising. All in all, it drives just like the last 300, and that car drove quite nicely. The computer’s services aren’t limited to overzealous driving, either. The adaptive cruise control system will now bring the car to a stop and resume moving in traffic, if the stop isn’t too long. The camera watching the road ahead will subtly warn you if you drift out of your land and gently move you back in if you don’t take action. Best of all, the point at which it issues a warning and the vigor with which it forces you back into your lane are both adjustable via the touchscreen. That same camera will also watch for stopped cars ahead and will now even brake for you if you’re really not paying attention. The 99.9 percent of the time you do your own braking, you might find the initial bite of the brake pedal a bit spongy, but you’ll get used to it, and the car will have no issue slowing or stopping. The new 300’s improvements aren’t all mechanical, either. Inside, the quality of materials has risen even further than the existing car, and the fit and finish is impeccable. The optional contrasting color schemes add a visual pop not found in the competition. Extra charge-only USB ports in the rear will be greatly appreciated in device-heavy households. The 2015 Chrysler 300 is a textbook definition of a mid-cycle refresh properly executed. A gaggle of small but significant updates altogether push the already good car further forward, creating a product with fewer weak points than ever before. Best of all, most of the little improvements are essentially gratis, as the base price remains the same as the outgoing car. Slow progress isn’t as exciting or sexy as a big makeover, but the result can be just as good.

2014 Chrysler 300 Review By Larry Nutson

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2014 Chrysler 300
Imported from Detroit

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

My most recent long-term drive in Chrysler’s 300 was almost two year ago in a 2012 model. Back then the new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission had just been introduced paired with the V6 engine.

Along with the powertrain improvements, since then Chrysler has freshened the interior with very significant improvement in materials, finishes, component fit and overall appearance and layout of its 5-passenger flagship sedan.

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As I write about the 2014 Chrysler 300 that I am driving we are on the cusp of seeing another redesign of the 300 for 2015 that is expected to be revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

My driver-for-a-week was a very attractive Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat 2014 300 equipped with the 292HP 3.6-liter V6 and AWD and with a base MSRP of $33,495. Options on this vehicle included a $2600 Driver Convenience Group that includes a rear back-up camera, power front seats, fog lamps, remote start and a few other items.

Also equipped was a huge dual-pane panoramic sunroof for $1595, as well as the $995 Uconnect 8.4N audio/navigation equipment. With the obligatory $995 destination charge we rang up the total at $39,680.

For 2014, model variants include the 300, 300S, 300C and 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition in RWD or AWD, and the 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition in RWD.

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Unique to the Chrysler 300S model is the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with a cold-air induction system and sport-tuned exhaust system – which enables the aluminum mill to produce 300 horsepower (+8 horsepower), 264 ft.-lb. of torque (+4 ft.-lb) compared to the rest of the six-cylinder 300 models.

For customers who seek more performance, the Chrysler 300S and 300C are available with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology and 370 horsepower, along with a firmer performance-tuned suspension and larger performance-disc brake system.

Expected fuel economy is always an important consideration in shopping for a new vehicle. The 300 achieves its highest EPA test rating of 19 city mpg and 31 highway mpg with the V6 RWD model. If you want Hemi V8 power the consequences will be lower expected fuel economy The EPA test ratings for the V8 RWD are 16 city mpg and 25 highway mpg. With AWD the ratings are lower due to the added weight and drive train friction.

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The 300 has a very long list of standard comfort, convenience and safety features making it a very well appointed entry in the large car class. Standard are heated-leather front seats, Uconnect 8.4 with voice commands, front-row reactive head restraints, advanced multi-stage air bags, full-length side-curtain air bags, seat-mounted side-thorax air bags, driver’s knee bag, rear head restraints in all positions, electronic stability control (ESC), Hill-start Assist (HSA),

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Rain Brake Support (RBS), Ready Alert Braking (RAB), tire-pressure monitoring (TPM), USB port with iPod control, SiriusXM Radio, SD-card reader, auxiliary audio input jack, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, six-speaker audio, Keyless Enter-N-Go, dual-zone automatic climate control with humidity sensor, cabin air filtration, acoustic windshield and front-door glass, 12-way power driver’s seats including 4-way power lumbar, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel with manual tilt/telescoping steering column, leather-wrapped shift knob, luxury floor mats, 140-mph LED-illuminated instrument cluster with full color and driver-selectable Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), satin chrome interior door handles, LED-illuminated assist handles and front map lights, LED-illuminated front cup holders, rear-passenger reading lamps, LED-illuminated front and rear door handles, LED-illuminated center-stack storage bin, glove box lamp, illuminated vanity mirrors and two 12-volt power outlets. Phew, what a list.

On the exterior, the Chrysler 300 model features 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, P215/65R17 all-season touring tires, comfort-tuned suspension, touring brake package, liquid-chrome grille bars with chromed surround, bi-halogen projector headlamps with chromed bezels, automatic headlamps, chromed daylight opening, chromed front and rear fascia accents, LED-illuminated “C” shaped daytime-running lamps (DRL), body-color exterior mirrors and door handles, LED-illuminated taillamps with LED-illuminated light pipe, dual-chromed exhaust tips with rolled-edges, cap-less fuel-filler door with power release, 17-inch compact spare tire and chromed “300” deck-lid badge.

All-wheel-drive gets you 19-inch wheels and P235/55 tires. On the 300S and 300C John Varvatos 20-inch wheels and P245/45 performance tires are equipped. Suspension tuning and brake upgrades are also available.

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I’ve enumerated the long list of standard features intentionally for you to see that the 300 has a very generous list of features to go along with its compliant and comfortable ride, quiet interior with low levels of wind and tire noise, and a great sound system. Seats are quite comfortable, ingress and egress is without problem, and the overall feeling of the interior is one of high quality.

The V6 paired with the eight-speed automatic provides very good acceleration, highway merging, lane changing and passing performance. Its quiet too and the engine sound and exhaust note under full throttle operation is very large-car like. The Hemi V8 will perform even better, although while drinking more gasoline.

If you would like to compare the Chrysler 300 to other large 4-door sedans, you can do that right here on http://www.theautochannel.com. If you would like to find any additional information or options on the entire 2014 Chrysler 300 model line you haven’t found here, they may be found a mouse click away at (a href=”http://www.chrysler.com”> http://www.chrysler.com.

The Chrysler 300 was named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), achieving their highest rating. And the 2014 Chrysler 300 was named a Consumer Digest Best Buy.

If I were purchasing a 300 (All 2014 Chrysler 300 Trim Levels), it probably would be the 300S model with the V6 and all-wheel-drive (AWD). I like the Chrysler system that, when AWD is not required, automatically disconnects the front axle to maximize fuel economy while still providing the fun-to-drive performance and handling inherent in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

Stay tuned for details on the new 2015 that’s coming yet this year.