2015 Chrysler 300S AWD Sedan

20150907_063728The Chrysler 300S, a full-size luxury offering from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was introduced in early 2011 at the New York International Auto Show as a second-generation iteration.

The updated 2015 300 represents a nice improvement over its predecessor in terms of styling and technology.  The car is 198.6” long, weighs 4,029 lbs., and is intended to compete with popular cars like Chevrolet’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, and Ford’s Taurus.

I recently tested a 300S “Sport” model with Jazz Blue pearl coat paint and black leather bolstered seating.  The “S” is third from the top in the line of 300’s, and this particular model had all-wheel drive.  Power was supplied by a 3.6 liter V-6 coupled with Chrysler’s proprietary 8-speed transmission.  The car exuded a throaty exhaust note and reportedly, the acceleration is zero to sixty in under six seconds.

Relative to its technology, the 300S that I tested had the navigation and BeatsAudio sound group, including a programmable driver dash cluster and 8.4” touchscreen display in the center stack. Chrysler calls its infotainment system UConnect, and with it the driver can command by voice the navigation route request, radio settings, text message(s), telephone calls, and recorded voice memos.  Hands-free responses to incoming text messages can be pre-defined by the driver (perhaps “I’m on my way.”), and the smart system technology can be trained to better recognize the driver’s voice in three languages, if desired.  Chrysler likes to say that their UConnect system takes non-distracted driving very seriously.SAM_0769

Driving the 300S was pleasurable, with handling, ride, road noise and guidance all impressive.  A blind spot monitor, cross path detection, and backup camera system all made driving easier, as did the comfort group with its heated steering wheel and seats.  A rotary E-shift gear selector was nice, and it’s something that I have come to look forward to when I encounter it in the test cars that I analyze.

Chrysler has a hit on its hands with the 300 series sedan, have sold more than 53,000 in 2014.  I can see why it is so popular, and really enjoyed my week driving the “S” model.

2015 Chrysler 300S specs

MSRP: $39,560.00, including freight and; customer preferred package -UConnect 8.4” screen, navigation, and HD radio ($995.00).

Power: 3.6 liter (217 c.i.d.) V-6 with 300 horsepower and 264 lb. ft. of torque. 8-speed automatic transmission with E-shift plus steering wheel paddles.  All-wheel drive.

Capacities: Fuel 18.5 gallons, cargo 16.3 cu. ft., passengers 5

EPA ratings: 18 mpg-city, 27 mpg-highway, 21 mpg-combined

2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB

2015 Range Rover LWB that I drove to Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park to test for AAA EnCompass magazine.

Indian conglomerate Tata Motors purchased iconic British automaker Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, obtaining a luxury line of cars and utility vehicles – the Land Rover brand having been around since 1947.  Land Rover started selling a bigger Range Rover SUV in 1970, and since 2013 the model has been available in its biggest version to date.  A Fuji white 2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB (long wheelbase) was the subject of a recent test that I conducted, and it was the largest foreign non-pickup unit ever loaned to me for review.

American manufacturers produce SUV’s of this size, of course, but not with as many amenities, at such a price, or with as much power.  Power which for my test Range Rover LWB came in the form of a 5.0 liter, 510 horsepower, 32-valve, supercharged V-8, permanent four-wheel drive, two-speed transfer case, and an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With such of a power train, acceleration from zero to 60 is reportedly 5.5 seconds, blazing for a 5,320 lb. aluminum-intensive behemoth.  The Range Rover is fast, and it’s ride, handling, guidance and visibility all go hand in hand with its drive train prowess.  Plus it can wade through 35.4” of water.SAM_0713

With regards to the amenities, they are in abundance in the Range Rover that I drove, and included four-zone climate control, front massage seats, rear climate seats that recline, beverage cooler, surround cameras, 360 degree parking control, 825-watt Meridian premium stereo, and panoramic moonroof that is controllable from the rear seats.  Also, HDD navigation, adaptive cruise control, terrain response system with five settings, rear cabin power blinds, and 21” aluminum alloy wheels were on hand.

SAM_0717People like this journalist are not often spotted in the driver’s seat, or back seat for that matter, of a vehicle such as the Range Rover.  It’s convention is often as a form of transportation for an entertainer or business owner.  In fact, Range Rover LWB sales are brisk in China, where owners enjoy riding in the back seat where all the room is.  This model represents nearly half of Sino-sales, whereas in America only 25% of Range Rover buyers opt for the 7.9” longer version.  All but a half inch of that additional exterior dimension benefits the legs of the passengers in the rear, and a lengthened back door that needs careful handling is often taken care by someone outside of the vehicle – the driver.

My rating of the Range Rover in question would be “par excellence”, in the areas of driving experience, off-road capability (reportedly), comfort, and styling.  As for the value proposition of this vehicle, I admit that it is expensive, at $118,000,00.  However, I  suspect that shoppers in this category, for the most part, are not concerned with that aspect.20150715_055242



2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB Specs

MSRP:  $118,501.00, including all standard LWB equipment and freight.  Options include climate comfort, vision assist, driver assist, towing, and premium audio packages.  Base price is $106,995.00.

POWER: 5.0 liter (305 c.i.d.) supercharged V-8 with 510 hp (@ 6,000 rpm), 461 lb. ft. of torque (@ 2,500 rpm) and start/stop technology. Permanent all-wheel drive with eight speed automatic transmission.

CAPACITIES: Fuel 27.7 gallons, cargo 32.1 cubic feet behind rear seat (50 more with seats folded flat), passengers 5.

EPA RATINGS: 14-city, 19-highway, 16-combined miles per gallon.  Reviewer-observed MPG – 16.7 mpg.

DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase 122.8”, Length 204.7”, Width 87.4”, Height 72.4” Weight 5,320 lbs., Obstacle clearance 8.68” (11.63 off-road).