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2018 Chrysler 300S AWD: Year-round luxury on a budget

by Patrick Rall on

If you are looking for a large, loaded luxury sedan that you can enjoy whether or it warm and sunny or cold and snowing, look no further than the 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD. This package starts just over $40,000 with a long list of standard features including heated leather seats and the UConnect infotainment package, but even when you check the box for every option package – this big luxury sedan tops out in V6 form under $50,000.

The Chrysler 300 is often overshadowed in the modern luxury sedan world, but when push comes to shove, a loaded 300 offers the vast majority of features that you can get in far-more-expensive luxury sedans including all-wheel-drive. I recently had a chance to spend a week driving the 2018 300S AWD powered by the Pentastar V6 and fitted with every option package and for the money, there is no better large luxury sedan that you can enjoy driving year-round on the market today.

Every Option Package

If you buy a 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD without any option packages, you still get many key luxury features such as the leather sport seats and the award winning UConnect infotainment system. That being said, my test car had every available option package, including the S Model Appearance Package, the 300S Alloy Package, the SafetyTech Plus Group, the 300S Premium Group, the 300S Premium Group 2 and the Beats Audio Group. With the standard V6 engine, my test car had a sticker price of $49,660, but if you are looking to save some money at the dealership, focusing more on function than form, you can skip some of the packages.

The S Model Appearance Package and the 300S Alloy Package come together to make this sedan far sportier looking, but they also add $2,200 to the bottom line. The SafetyTech Plus Group adds every high tech safety gadget that you could want for $1,695, but if safety gadgets aren’t your thing, this is another $1,700 that you can save.

When we get to the Premium Group and Premium Group 2, this is where you get into the features that you want to have in order to get the most from your large luxury sedan. The first Premium is $3,495, adding the premium navigation system, the panoramic sunroof and all of the Sirius satellite features. Premium Group 2 adds the adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, cooled front seats and a long list of other, smaller features. The second group adds $1,895, but I would call each of these Premium Groups must-haves for a daily driven luxury car – especially when you consider the fact that you can get into the 300S AWD with both Premium Groups and the Beats sound system for around $45,000.

When you do add both of the Premium Group packages, the 300S has a cabin that looks and feels like a European competitor. The award winning UConnect system puts all of the controls at your fingertips in one of the industry’s most user-friendly layouts and the leather-wrapped sport bucket seats are comfortable for a drive across town or across the state.

Really, when you load up the 300S with all of the appearance, safety and premium packages, there aren’t many things left to ask for in terms of luxury regulars. The only difference is that this luxury sedan doesn’t cost $70,000.

Pentastar AWD

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in the 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD offers 300 horsepower, making it a bit less powerful than the 5.7-liter Hemi, but unlike the V8, the V6 is offered with all-wheel-drive. If you immediately thought “I wouldn’t buy a V6 300”, then this package clearly isn’t for you, but if you want all-wheel-drive more than you want Hemi power – this is the package for you. The 300S has a sporty look from front to rear, but more importantly, the 300-horsepower V6 makes it surprisingly quick. Sure, it isn’t as quick as the Hemi-powered 300, but for a large, all-wheel-drive luxury sedan, the Pentastar makes for a fun daily driver. Low end acceleration is strong, especially when the car is in Sport Mode, with sharper throttle response and quicker shifts getting you up to speed in a hurry.

At this point in the review, I want to point out that I have driven the V6 300 with and without all-wheel-drive, and I would recommend that anyone getting a V6 also get all-wheel-drive. FCA’s active front axle system allows the front wheels to disengage when the extra traction isn’t needed, helping to improve fuel economy in most situations. While it is all-wheel-drive, there is still a clear rear-drive bias, so the 300S feels like a rear-wheel-drive car in when you are driving on a warm, sunny day.

However, when the weather goes south and the roads become slippery, the Chrysler 300S AWD outshines the V8 models. The advanced all-wheel-drive system makes the 300S all-but-unstoppable, even in the heavy snow on icy roads. In driving conditions that would keep a rear-drive 300 with the Hemi in the garage, the 300S AWD proves to be as capable as any crossover or SUV on the market when it comes to on-road performance.

Really, shy of the difference in power, the only disadvantage of the AWD system is that you can’t do smoky burnouts, as you can lock AWD on, but you cannot lock it off. Whenever the system sees the need for traction at all four wheels, it engages the AWD system so it is a beast in the snow or on muddy unpaved roads while providing the driving dynamics of a rear-drive sedan in clear, warm weather.

There are lots of all-wheel-drive luxury sedans sold in America, but none combine the interior size of the 300, the list of available features and a price below $50,000 – making the 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD with the V6 the best budget luxury sedan for those drivers who need to be able to battle heavy snow.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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