BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Meandering along Wilshire Boulevard through Beverly Hills, swank California home to movie stars and media moguls, a sensuous Chrysler 300 sporting a chiseled-block body and prominent new wire mesh grille draws the eye even on a street clotted with exotic and expensive automobiles.
The dramatic form of Chrysler's full-size touring sedan is hard to miss: It looks like an exclusive luxury coach of bold dimensions in the manner of a mega-bucks Bentley with the audacious face, upright structure and blockish body. But those rippled shoulders and big wheels plus a high-hiked tail treatment suggest the stance of a wild-maned and tautly-tuned lion ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey.
This elegant transport -- in a refreshed and enhanced third-generation treatment for model-year 2015 -- offers superb driving dynamics and classy but comfortable interior fittings, with buyer choices for two muscular powertrains and new 8-speed automatic transmission for all versions plus rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction.
Chrysler 300 for 2015 splits into four trim levels with a well-stocked entry-model 300 Limited, the sport-skewed 300S, luxe 300C and over-the-top 300C Platinum.
All 2015 300 issues employ an ultra-rigid unibody structure with independent suspension geometry to deliver grand-touring handling traits. The suspension consists of an independent front SLA arrangement with high upper A arms plus coil springs over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear independent 5-link design has coil springs and gas-charged shocks plus stabilizer bar and an isolated rear suspension cradle.
Chrysler 300 stocks many active safety systems designed to keep an alert driver out of harm's way by avoiding accidents. The gear includes an electric power rack and pinion steering system and 4-wheel disc brakes tied to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC) and all-speed traction control (ASTC) systems.
Two different engines are available to power Chrysler's largest sedan in the 2015 editions.
Standard plant is Chrysler's 3.6-liter aluminum-block V6 with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT). It delivers 292 hp at 6350 rpm and torque of 260 lb-ft at 4800, although for 300S the power numbers rise to 300 hp at 6350 rpm and 264 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm.
Add the new TorqueFlite 845RE 8-speed electronic automatic transmission (with Sport Mode and die-cast paddle shifters on 300S and 300C Platinum) and EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers for the V6 come to 19/31 mpg (city/highway) with RWD and 18/27 mpg (city/highway) with AWD.
Optional plant for the 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum is a high-tech rendition of Chrysler's fabled Hemi V8 plant with hemispheric combustion chambers. This contemporary Hemi V8 displaces 5.7 liters and produces 363 hp at 5200 rpm and 394 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm through a Torqueflite 8HP70 8-speed electronic automatic with sport mode and paddle shifters. It comes with Chrysler's Fuel Saver Technology (FST) mode which switches seamlessly to fuel-saving 4-cylinder mode when all of that horsepower is not needed.
Fuel scores for the 5.7-liter plant net to 16/25 mpg (city/highway) with the 300C RWD version and 15/23 mpg (city/highway) for 300C AWD.
Chrysler's part-time AWD device, using an active transfer case plus front-axle disconnect, distributes the engine's power between the front and rear axles to maintain tire grip on slippery pavement. When AWD traction is not needed, the intelligent system automatically disconnects the front axle, thus reverting to RWD mode to conserve fuel.
New entry-issue Chrysler 300 Limited brings extensive standard equipment, including the TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission, 12-way power driver's bucket, leather seats with heat elements, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear bench for three with folding seatbacks split 60/40, Uconnect with voice commands and 8.4-inch touchscreen, automatic dual-zone climate controls, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio kit.
New 2015 Chrysler 300S carries blacked-out accents, large 20-inch aluminum Hyper Black wheels, sculpted side sills, a deck-lid spoiler and the higher output V6.
New optional safety features range from Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus to Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus with Full Stop, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and 9-1-1 call/Assist Call.
Chrysler lists a 2015 300 Limited at $31,395.