2016 Chrysler 300C Rental Review - The Best Car Money Can Rent
Greatness isn’t always universal. Being a great sprinter doesn’t make one a great marathoner. In fact, exhibiting greatness in one sense will often make for a fatal flaw in another. If you need any proof of this, simply pick up the closest Greek tragedy and read it.
The same can be be said of rental cars. The qualities that make a car a great rental don’t necessarily translate into a great daily driver. That being said, after four days in Northern California, I’m prepared to remove the Chevy Impala from its lofty perch as the best rental car money can buy (or rent) you.
The 2016 Chrysler 300 C is the best rental car in the world.
I very nearly didn’t get the opportunity to find out. When I arrived at San Jose International late on a Wednesday evening, the Emerald Aisle looked bleak. I strolled up and down the nearly empty garage several times, and had nearly resigned myself to a Camry SE when I saw the Phantom clone turn the corner, freshly washed and ready to return to duty. Ahhh, yes.
The black-on-black 300 was perfect for my weekend assignment, much of which required me to be in the company of people who make more money in a week than a doctor makes in a year. The 300C looks, smells, feels, and — most importantly — drives like big money.
My 300C RWD came configured like most of them are: nearly all features you’d ever want are standard on the C, including heated and ventilated leather seats, a dual-panel moonroof/sunroof, and Uconnect 8.4 touchscreen. The only option that I wanted was sadly missing: the option for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. However, the standard 292-horsepower Pentastar motor was more than sufficient, as you’ll soon learn.
I asked a lot of my FCA stallion over the course of the weekend, including several hauls up and down the legendary Pacific Coast Highway, with stops in Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey, and Half Moon Bay. The 300 demonstrated much of its competence here, providing a pillow-top quality ride to accompany the scenic views. The interior is simply better than it has a right to be, especially considering the age of this platform. Seating is firm and supportive, with enough adjustability built in to suit both my 5’9″ and my brother’s 6’2″ frames. Although the RWD hump in the middle of the cabin reduces the usability of the back seat to two adults and one short-legged child, the leg, shoulder, and head room are fantastic. In fact, should you find yourself toting along a photographer in the back seat, there’s more than enough room for him/her to work, as seen here.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; Bark, are you really doing 111 miles per hour on the 17 Mile Drive in Carmel while listening to “Time For Me To Fly” by REO Speedwagon?
The obvious answer is … maybe.
The real answer, sadly, is no.
I switched the speedometer to kilometers per hour because my father had chastised me for doing 67 on the PCH in another photo that my dear new sister-in-law had posted to The Facebook earlier in the day, so we thought we’d have a little fun with him.
(Note to self: my father’s idea of “fun” and mine differ. Drastically.)
Regardless, this was the 300C’s chance to show that it could really handle the tight turns under power.
Newsflash: it cannot. Not in any way, shape, or form.
In fact, hustling the car through corners at all made my older brother incredibly nervous in the passenger seat, and not without reason. The same suspension that makes the 300C so enjoyable to drive at highway speeds makes it somewhat treacherous in more spirited driving. Any sort of surface change causes the big Chrysler to bounce like Kim Kardashian’s ass in a home video. The Pentastar has no problem pushing the weight of the 300C through apexes, but the combination of good lateral grip and soft suspension makes for unsettling cornering.
Here’s the part where you have to decide, as a driver and a car owner, which type of driving experience you’d like to have. So many sedans today have ridiculously “sporty” suspensions, with spring rates that border on insanity. Sure, you get a more planted cornering feel, but you get the fillings knocked out of your teeth with every bump in the road the rest of the time. In a world where every car must be subjected to some ridiculous shootout-style comparison test with drivers wearing HANS devices and three-point belts, it’s no wonder that OEMs saddle their mid- and large-sized sedans with suspension geometry more suited for the track than the street.
I delight in the fact that the 300C shuns these judgments, and simply allows itself to excel at the style of driving that most drivers will do nearly 100 percent of the time in such a car. If you want a large, Pentastar-powered sedan with a sporty suspension, I feel confident that your local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram/Fiat dealer’s salesperson will direct you toward the Charger.
However, if you want a large American car that actually drives like a large American car, well, my friends, the Chrysler 300 C is for you. It’s at the point that I could go into all sorts of numbers and sales data and statistics and comparisons, but let me tell you a tale instead.
I was brutally forced, against my will, to drive the 300C from my accommodations at the Monterey Marriott to Jack and Danger Girl’s Santa Cruz hotel, then on to San Francisco and back on Saturday night. (I was also forced to accept a free NY Strip Steak at Bob’s downtown in the Omni.) Every second that I was sitting at the dinner table, despite being in delightful company (meaning my steak), I was dreading the two-hour drive back. I was exhausted, and I knew how the drive would be downright dangerous in the dark with anything less than my most alert state of mind.
My dear readers, let me tell you this. I needn’t have worried. The 300C is the easiest car in the world to drive. It requires no effort beyond the flick of the occasional wrist. The delightful eight-speed automatic transmission pairs with the Pentastar to smoothly and quietly deliver a stress-free highway drive — and at an observed 32 miles per gallon, too.
I arrived safely and soundly at my destination, delivered the car to the valet, and slipped into silent slumber with a smile on my face.
The only minor annoyance I had with the car was that oncoming drivers kept assuming that I had my brights on. I was flashed at least a dozen times each night, and not in the good way. I suspect that my rental, despite having only a thousand miles on the clock, may have needed some minor headlight adjustment.
So would I want to drive the 300C every day? I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t — or at least not this version of it. I’d want the 5.7-liter V8 at the very least, and I’d be wishing for an SRT-8 trim with the 6.4-liter brute. But the good news? I can actually get the 5.7, and only for about $3,000 more. This rental trim 300C can be had, after incentives, for less than $36,000, and the Hemi still gets you out the door for under $40,000.
Can you think of another car that gets you all of that, and looks this good, for that kind of money? I can’t either.
So, for that reason alone, the 300C is going to find itself on my shopping list in February of next year. And while I may not buy it, if I ever see it on the rental row again, you can be damn sure that I’ll be renting it.
[Images: Bark M. and Danger Girl]
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- Jeff S Still a nice car and I remember these very well especially in this shade of green. The headlights were vacuum controlled. I always liked the 67 thru 72 LTDs after that I found them bloated. Had a friend in college with a 2 door 71 LTD which I drove a couple of times it was a nice car.
- John H Last week after 83 days, dealership said mine needs new engine now. They found metal in oil. Potential 8 to 9 month wait.
- Dukeisduke An aunt and uncle of mine traded their '70 T-Bird (Beakbird) for a brand-new dark metallic green '75 LTD two-door, fully loaded. My uncle hated seat belts, so the first time I saw the car (it was so new that the '75 models had just landed at the dealerships) he proudly showed me how he'd pulled the front seat belts all the way out of their retractors, and cut the webbing with a razor blade(!).Just a year later, they traded it in for a new '76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (they had owned a couple of Imperials in the '60s), and I imagine the Cadillac dealer took a chunk out to the trade-in, to get the front seat belts replaced.
- CaddyDaddy Lease fodder that in 6 years will be on the 3rd owner in a poverty bound aspirational individual's backyard in a sub par neighborhood sinking into the dirt. The lending bank will not even want to repossess and take possession of this boat anchor of a toxic waste dump. This proves that EVs are not even close to being ready for prime time (let's not even talk about electrical infrastructure). EVs only exist in wildly expensive virtue signaling status-mobiles. FAIL! I know this is a Hybrid, but it's a Merc., so it will quickly die after the warranty. Show me a practical EV for the masses and I'll listen. At this time, Hybrids are about the way to go for most needing basic transportation.
- Jeanbaptiste The bubble free dash on the R32!