Chrysler is out to prove it still has a pulse, and if the newly announced redesign of the company’s 300 sedan is any indication, it will be back with a vengeance. The fresh-faced 2015 Chrysler 300 hit the 2014 L.A. Auto Show, and the storied and legendary car is as spry and classy as ever. Initial reactions have been positive, but definitive answers won’t come until the car actually hits the market.
“Our new 2015 Chrysler 300 builds on its 60-year legacy of delivering world-class performance, elegance, sophistication, technology and craftsmanship — a combination that can only be found in our big, bold and proudly American rear-wheel-drive sedan,” said Al Gardner, Chrysler’s president and CEO, in a press release. “Beyond its head-turning iconic proportions and even more commanding Chrysler front-end and grille, our new 300 is designed to reward hard-working individuals by delivering class-exclusive technologies, premium appointments and levels of quality of sedans costing thousands more.”
The new 300 will hit the market in four trim levels, the most basic of which will have a starting price of $31,395. The 300S and 300C will cost $3,500 and $6,500 more, each with their own set of added features and premium materials. The top-level variant will be the 300C Platinum, which will cost $42,395 and add even more creature comforts on top of an already long list. The 300C Platinum will include “quilted Nappa leather, hand-sanded wood, ultra-premium Poltrona Frau leather-wrapped instrument panel and console, plus platinum-chrome exterior details and 20-inch wheels,” Chrysler says.
As far as what makes the newest iteration of the 300 different from the last, the most obvious detail is a facelift to the exterior aesthetics. The new, bigger front grille is what stands out the most, but there are also updates with LED lighting, bigger and newer wheel designs, and design changes. On the inside, every 300 model will come with “a standard 7-inch full-color driver information display (DID) and class-exclusive electronic rotary transmission shifter, plus Chrysler brand’s new three-spoke steering wheel with larger vehicle controls and available die-cast paddle shifters.”
Drivers will also have some options when it comes to what’s under the hood. The lower trim levels will feature a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. For those looking to upgrade, a 363-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is also in the cards, which also comes with some economic features to save on fuel. In fact, the new 300 will have best-in-class V6 fuel economy and best-in-class V6 and V8 driving range.
Obviously, the details stretch on for quite a while. But what is clear is that Chrysler is putting some significant resources and effort into recreating the 300. In order to recapture the hearts of American drivers and others around the world, the 300 has some significant catching up to do in an auto market that has become saturated with classy, economical sedans. In order to reclaim lost territory, Chrysler brass is evidently looking to the past. With a 48% spike in sales over the past four years for the 300, it seems like they know what they’re doing as well.
There are few other vehicles still on the market that has a history as deep and storied as the 300. It originally hit the market in 1955 and was one of the first vehicles to actually blend affordability with raw power and everyday practicality. You could even make the argument that the 300 was the original muscle car. From there, the 300 has been a mainstay on the market for decades, giving consumers a luxury vehicle option at a price they could afford.
By accessing those principles that made the 300 the market force it was for decades, Chrysler execs are trying to restore the car to its former glory. Although it saw rebirth in in the mid-2000s following another radical redesign, the fire from the consumer end has since been snuffed out. That redesign, which saw the 300 hit the market with a faux-Bentley appearance, was embraced by many but couldn’t sustain itself over the long-term.
By bringing the 300 back to the forefront with a fresh facelift and slew of new features, Chrysler may have a winner on its hands. Take, for example, what the 300 is up against headed into the 2015 model year. As the 300 isn’t exactly a commuter-class sedan, yet not quite a luxury car, Chrysler can take advantage of the car’s strengths to straddle those lines.
While it may be able to steal some sales from consumers looking at high- to mid-end models from Toyota, Honda, or Chevrolet, it could also potentially go up against some of the lower-end luxury cars from other companies. Lexus, Acura, even Lincoln and Cadillac are good targets, and since the 300 is priced considerably less than many models offered by those brands, it could easily sway some buyers.
That’s what’s at the heart of the 300’s strength: The fact that it is a commuter-class luxury car that’s typically more affordable than its competitors. That is likely the mission Chrysler has charged the 300 with — to offer an affordable luxury-styled vehicle to the masses — and since the luxury market has been taking off as of late, the 300 has a lot of potential to be a hit. Lincoln and Cadillac are both seeing a comeback, and even Buick has seen a sales spike recently. The 300 could easily fit right into the market and offer a viable alternative.
We won’t know for sure if Chrysler’s gamble on the 300 will pay off, but it appears to be in a prime position to make a dent in the market. As long as Chrysler keeps it affordable and well-refined, there is likely to always be a place on the market for the storied 300.