Endurance Racer: The 2017 Chrysler 300S

2017 Chrysler 300S front view
The 2017 Chrysler 300S.
I remember the first time I saw a Chrysler 300 in the flesh.  It was 2004.  Although there was a refresh six years ago, the effect is still pretty much the same.

This is called not messing with success.  There is a market for a large, Bentley-esque (if you squint) American sedan with a range of powerplants under the hood...from a six-cylinder for the rental market to a Hemi V8.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Chrysler 300S
2017 Chrysler 300S.
Chrysler has come up with a clever way of distinguishing the different trim levels of the 300.  The base Limited comes only with the V6.  The top-of-the-line 300C and 300C Platinum come only with the Hemi.  The 300S lets you choose.  The standard engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 292 horsepower and an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 city/30 highway, but a $3,000 check of the option box boots you up to the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 363 horsepower and a more modest EPA estimate of 16 city/25 highway (which is optimistic...even with a chunk of highway miles, we struggled to make 20 mpg).  But then, the Hemi...the noise that it makes and the shove in the back it gives you as your right foot presses ever so gently on the throttle...doesn't exactly inspire hyper-mileage behavior.

It should be noted that the engine isn't all your $3,000 gets you.  It's a package deal, including a rear body-color spoiler, premium LED foglamps, anti-lock four-wheel disc performance brakes, the S model appearance package and body-color fascias.

Interior view of 2017 Chrysler 300S
2017 Chrysler 300S interior.
Of course, that engine package wasn't the only option making a mockery of the 300S's reasonable $35,675 base price.  Our tester also had Customer Preferred Package 26L (20-inch dark bronze aluminum wheels, a liquid titanium chrome wing badge, dark bronze badging, alloy edition floor mats, titanium finish exhaust tips and four-wheel independent suspension) for $495; the 300S Premium Group 2 (adaptive bi-Xenon HID headlamps, a power tilt/telescoping steering column memory for the radio, driver's seat and mirrors, a front and rear parking assist system, blind spot and cross-path detection, a power backlight sunshade, heated steering wheel and second-row seats (heated front seats are standard), a driver's side auto-dimming exterior mirror, driver and passenger lower LED lamps, front and rear LED map pockets, exterior mirrors with turn signals and courtesy lamps, auto adjust-in-reverse exterior mirrors, ventilated front seats, a trunk mat, door sill scuff pads and automatic leveling headlamp system) for $1,895.

No, we're not done loading this one up.

There was also the SafetyTec Plus Group (full speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop, lane departure warning, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, automatic high-beam headlamp control and advanced brake assist) for $1,695; a dual-pane panoramic sunroof for $1,795, performance tires for $1,500, four-wheel independent high-performance suspension for $95 and navigation for $995.

Toss in $1,095 destination charge and it all winds up at $48,240.   It's a lot of car for the money, even if the money is a lot, too.  Much past this, though, and I'd have to wonder what else 50 grand could buy me.  As it stands, though, it's a powerful, comfortable machine you could drive all day and all night and not get tired in or of.  And that's probably why the formula hasn't been tampered with in nearly a decade and a half.