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2018 Chrysler 300S road test

Chrysler 300S. Retro cool muscle-car reboots first showed up around a decade ago, and U.S. automakers have not stopped. With iconic nameplates like the Charger and Challenger, Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) is no stranger to this game. The Chrysler 300 is supposed to be the luxury version of these front engine, rear drive sedans – but does it live up to the promise?mychinews.com/cars/2018-Chrysler-300S-review

While there have been two official versions of the venerable sedan, first put on sale in 2005, the current generation was only a mild redesign of the original. Even that redesign has been around since 2011, now eight long years ago. What does that all mean? This retro-cool sedan is now actually starting to feel dated.

That shows up the most in the interior fit-and-finish. The materials, design and construction of the interior simply leaves a lot to be desired. Materials are thin and some of the dashboard pieces are rickety. The hard-plastic panels really don’t scream luxury in the face of competitors in the class.

2018 Chrysler 300S Road test | Chicago NewsLeather seats are supple and comfortable enough, but the rest of the interior really takes away from the experience. There needs to be more of a differentiation between the entry level Chrysler 300 and the top-line version we test drove. Pushing nearly $50k, there are lots of other sedans to consider.

Exterior styling has aged much better than the interior, retaining that retro-cool look and evoking strong Chrysler design cues. On the inside, the most modern FCA tech has been retrofitted, with their excellent infotainment system and tons of active safety features. Heated and cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel keep occupants warm during frigid Chicago winters, and cool during sweltering summer.

One thing you don’t always see in a sedan like this is the panoramic sunroof. While letting in all that light is great, it really takes away from the rear-seat headroom and will make taller passengers uncomfortable. It’s all about whether you prioritize letting in light or shuttling tall people around.

2018 Chrysler 300S Road test | Chicago NewsPerhaps the biggest let-down, however, in a full-sized V8 sedan like this has to be the powertrain. You would want a rip-roaring engine, at least once sport-mode is engaged – but what you end up with is a flaccid 363 horsepower. This is barely more than the base V6, and lags far behind some honest 400hp options in the class.

With limited power on tap, the engine does like to rev and it becomes even more important for the transmission to select the correct gear. Unfortunately, the ZF-made 8-speed automatic is lazy and disconnected even in sport mode. Shifts take too long whether you let the gearbox decide or use the steering wheel mounted paddles. It’s a real let- down, considering how good this gearbox feels in some other FCA products.

That tells me it’s a matter of calibration, they could have programmed the transmission to be snappier and more direct – especially in sport mode – but chose to leave it kind of wandering around through the gears. That lack of decisiveness really hurts considering the limited power output.

2018 Chrysler 300S Road test | Chicago NewsUltimately this Chrysler 300 is really showing its age at this point. It may be time for a major refresh, but for 2019 there are barely any changes coming. This is one car that could benefit from a complete interior redesign, the exterior still holds up despite the years. That’s one benefit of the retro bunch – they really don’t go out of style.

If it’s style you’re after, then that’s the only compelling case for getting one of these. The high price point and low performance combined with a subpar interior experience create a car that doesn’t deliver what the design promises. Let’s hope a fresh version is on the horizon!

Special thanks to FCA for providing the 2018 Chrysler 300S for review.