The 2018 Chrysler 300 is decidedly old-school. It comes standard with rear-wheel drive and offers all-American V8 power when most competitors send their power up front through only V6 engines or even a hybrid powertrain. It’s also literally old-school, as the 300 traces its mechanical underpinnings back more than a decade. So a spring chicken it most definitely is not. It’s probably not a winter one, either.
Yet, unlike other vehicles of similar old-school (or just plain old) character, the 2018 300 has remained relevant thanks to constant updates over the years and just an inherent excellence that’s been with it from the very beginning. Sure, some competitors may be a bit more modern, efficient and/or spacious, but they’re also inevitably more reserved and well, dull. The 300 is cool and characterful in ways a Toyota Avalon or Buick LaCrosse will never be.
The 300 is also reasonably priced, with lots of standard and optional features, and offers a comfortable ride and if not class-leading space, then more than enough of it. In other words, it offers the practicality and comfort expected from a big sedan of today with the sort of style and all-American presence we used to expect. Perhaps it’s not quite a best-of-both-worlds scenario, but it’s definitely close.
What’s New for 2018?
The Chrysler 300 didn’t really change for 2018, but trim levels have been renamed and feature availability adjusted to more closely align with the Pacifica.
What We Like
User-friendly UConnect infotainment system; abundant features for the money; bold styling; smooth ride; available V8 engine
What We Don’t
Challenging outward visibility; less spacious than some rival big sedans; all-wheel drive not available for V8 models
The 2018 Chrysler 300 comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque in all trim levels but the 300S, where it produces 300 hp. An 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive (RWD) are standard, but all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. Fuel economy is estimated at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving with RWD. AWD lowers those estimates to 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.
Optional on the 300S and standard on the 300C, the 5.7-liter V8 produces 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. It, too, has an 8-speed automatic but can only be had with rear-wheel drive. Fuel-economy estimates stand at 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Chrysler 300 is offered in five trim levels: Touring, Touring L, 300S, Limited and 300C.
Standard equipment on the Touring ($29,000) includes 17-inch wheels, a backup camera, proximity entry and push-button start, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the 8.4-in UConnect touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, satellite radio and a 6-speaker sound system. Note that the optional all-wheel-drive system features different suspension tuning. The Sport Appearance package adds blacked-out trim and 20-in wheels.
The Touring L ($32,600) adds 18-in wheels, an 8-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and Nappa leather upholstery. Integrated navigation and a panoramic sunroof can be added as options.
The 300S ($36,300) adds a sport-tuned suspension, 20-in wheels, a Sport transmission mode, special exterior styling, LED fog lamps, sport seats and upgraded speakers.
The Limited ($40,000) reverts mechanically to the Touring’s specifications and features more luxury-oriented styling flourishes than the 300S. It adds different 20-in wheels, driver-memory settings, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats. These extras are optional on the 300S.
The 300C ($41,000) comes only with the V8 engine and further includes the 300S Sport transmission mode, its own ritzier styling, adaptive bi-xenon headlights and quilted leather seating. Premium “Poltrona” leather trim wrapping much of the interior is optional.
The Limited and 300C can be fitted with a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Integrated navigation and a panoramic sunroof can be added to it on the 300C. Those same features are optional on all but the base Touring within different packages.
The 300S, Limited and 300C can also be equipped with the SafetyTec Plus package. Besides its added safety equipment (see the Safety section below for details), it also includes adaptive cruise control, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, front and rear parking sensors and automatic highbeams.
All Chrysler 300 models come standard with a wide range of safety features, including side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control and a backup camera. Available on the 300S, Limited and 300C is the SafetyTec Plus package, which includes full-speed forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems and lane-keeping assist.
In crash tests carried out by the federal government, the 300 earned four stars overall — a score comprised of four stars in frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side-impact test. The 300 earned top scores in most crash tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with the exception of its second-worst Marginal score in the firm’s small-overlap front crash test. Its frontal-crash prevention system was rated Superior.
Behind the Wheel
Most full-size sedans drive pretty similarly regardless of the trim level you choose — not so the Chrysler 300. There are three different suspension tunes available, which noticeably alter ride comfort and handling. There are also two steering setups (300S and everything else). We would note that gaps between all these variations aren’t so large that you’ll find one especially uncomfortable or sloppy to drive, but it’s definitely reason enough to test-drive all versions within your price range.
Interestingly, there also isn’t a big gap between the V6 and V8 engines. Yes, there’s clearly a difference, but unless you’re really excited to blast away from every stoplight, we suspect you’ll probably be content with the car’s smooth V6 engine. And really, its 292 or 300 hp is hardly something to snicker at.
Now, if you’re a passenger in the 300, you’re in for a treat: The sedan boasts comfortable seats and lots of room in virtually every direction. The 300 also offers Chrysler’s excellent UConnect infotainment system, which is standard on all models, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s one of the easiest to use in the business thanks to a huge screen and easy-to-use on-screen instructions.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Buick LaCrosse — The Buick LaCrosse offers the sort of size, luxury and comfort many will be looking for in the 300. It also boasts more than 300 hp from its V6 engine, with better fuel economy than the 300 can manage. Its classy styling and luxuriously modern interior sweeten the deal.
2018 Dodge Charger — Dodge’s full-size Charger sedan is mechanically related to the 300, but it offers a wider array of performance options and is generally much cheaper (though less luxurious and well equipped). It’s definitely worth a look if you’re interested in a bold full-size sedan with ample power sent to the rear wheels.
2018 Lincoln MKZ — The tasteful MKZ starts at a higher price than the 300, but it’s comparable when similarly equipped to a loaded 300C. The MKZ’s new 400-hp turbo V6 actually outdoes the 300’s V8 and should be considered for those who want to go very fast in comfort.
Used Cadillac CTS — Rear-wheel drive, a powerful engine, a large cabin and elegant American styling: The CTS checks off many of the same boxes as the 300, but it elevates them with superior engineering and craftsmanship. Prices will be higher, though, so a used model is a more likely comparison.
Really, all the 300 trim levels come very well equipped for the money, and given their differing driving dynamics and overall characters, we would make sure to test-drive all the variations within your budget range. You can’t go wrong, so it’s really a matter of which one in particular is right for you.