A mid-cycle refreshening for the Chrysler 300 that debuted in the 2011MY adds driver-assist technologies, more tuning options for the sport model, and the nameplate’s first pairing of a V8 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
“We started with a very soundly engineered 300 and have taken Chrysler’s flagship sedan to the next level,” Michael O’Rourke, Chrysler 300 Chief Engineer, said in an Automotive Engineering interview during a December media ride and drive program in Austin, TX.
The 2015 model replaces hydraulic-based power steering with Nexteer Automotive-supplied electric power steering, providing a gateway for driver-assist technologies.
A three-step selection process via the 8.4-in dashboard screen lets the driver choose from normal, comfort, and sport steering. “The driver could choose ‘sport’ steering to tighten up the steering response during highway driving, then choose ‘normal’ to lightened up the steering response for a parking maneuver,” said O’Rourke.
Lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist is a new feature for the 300. This camera-based system alerts the driver with a cluster telltale if the car is straying from the roadway and automatically self-aligns the car with steering inputs.
“The driver can select from the display screen’s safety and driver-assistance interface how close the vehicle should get to a lane marking before a steering correction occurs with a pre-selected light, medium, or hard steering response,” O’Rourke explained.
Adaptive cruise control (ACC)-plus with full stop and full-speed forward collision warning-plus are also first-time safety options on the 300.
ACC functions all the way down to zero, rather than only operating at speeds greater than 18 mph (29 km/h) as was the case on the prior model 300. “This is a really nice feature for stop and go traffic. The system will slow the car to a stop and hold the vehicle at a stop for two seconds before relinquishing control back to the driver,” said O’Rourke.
If the car in front starts moving again within two seconds of the stop, the system will take the 300 back up to the set speed. Buttons located on the steering wheel let the driver set the distance range between the 300 and the car in front.
Full-speed forward collision warning-plus with low-speed collision mitigation uses radar and camera technology to provide a full stop if vehicle speed is below 20 mph (32 km/h). “The system calculates if the 300 is closing too fast on the vehicle in front. You’ll get a chime and a visual warning and, if you don’t brake, the system will literally brake for you,” said O’Rourke.
The 300S model now offers a sport-tuned suspension. “We had a comfort and a normally tuned suspension in the past, but not a sport suspension,” said O’Rourke.
There are two ways to activate sport mode. Depressing the 300’s new, Kostal-supplied electronic rotary shifter, then turning the shifter dial to the ‘S’ engages sport-tuned transmission and engine calibrations. If the driver then uses the magnesium steering wheel paddles to change gears in this manual transmission mode, they will remain permanent.
A green flag icon displayed in the instrument cluster indicates that a center console button marked ‘sport’ has been activated. In addition to the sport-tuned engine and transmission calibrations, this setting provides sport steering and all-wheel drive if the vehicle has it.
The two sport modes are not exact duplicates.
“If you select ‘sport’ by the console button, the steering wheel paddle shifts remain temporary. So if you don’t paddle shift in about five seconds, the transmission will go back into an automatic shift mode. But if you choose the gear selector’s sport mode, the transmission will stay in manual mode at the gear you selected until directed otherwise by the driver,” O’Rourke explained.
Selecting both the gear shifter and the console button sport modes means the driver will have sport steering, sport-tuned engine and transmission calibrations, and permanent paddles, according to O’Rourke.
On the powertrain option front, a 5.7-L Hemi V8 producing 363 hp (270 kW) at 5200 rpm and 394 lb·ft (534 N·m) at 4200 rpm joins a 3.6-L Pentastar V6 with 292 hp (218 kW) at 6350 rpm and 260 lb·ft (353 Nm) at 4800 rpm as well as the sport-tuned exhaust version of the V6 on the 300S providing 300 hp (224 kW) at 6350 rpm and 264 lb·ft (358 N·m) at 4800 rpm. Both the V6 and V8 engines mate to the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission.
Other changes to the 2015 Chrysler 300 include a new steering wheel; a 7-in digital instrument cluster (replacing the prior 3.5-in digital cluster); open pore wood interior accents; and updated dashboard display graphics. Said Chris Benjamin, Chief Designer for Chrysler Brand Interiors, “We refreshed this entire area to modernize it.”
The rear-wheel-drive 300 Limited’s 2015MY starting price remains unchanged from the 2014 base model at $31,395. Chrysler 300 is also sold in S, C, and Platinum trims.