Why does the Chrysler 300 outsell every mid- and full-size premium-branded luxury sedan as well as all the mainstream volume branded luxury four-doors in the U.S. and Canada? Because it’s been so very…

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300 still has plenty of presence after all these years. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Why does the Chrysler 300 outsell every mid- and full-size premium-branded luxury sedan as well as all the mainstream volume branded luxury four-doors in the U.S. and Canada? Because it’s been so very good for so very long that it’s developed a near cult-like following.

Let’s be honest for a moment. Chrysler hasn’t done much particularly well over the past dozen or so years. In fact, since its 2005 high of 695,546 unit sales, its annual tally in the two northernmost North American countries plunged to just 248,023 models last year, which has as much to do with consumers’ waning interest in mid- to full-size four-door sedans and high-end minivans, as the winged blue ribbon brand’s succession of multinational parents starving it of investment.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300’s upright stance gives it a solid, masculine look that’s remained very appealing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

When I started out as a fledgling car writer at the turn of the millennia, Chrysler was a very hot property with a host of cab-forward designs that were the envy of every domestic brand and a number of imports. These included the compact Neon (it was a Dodge in the U.S.), the mid-size Cirrus sedan, the Sebring Coupe and Convertible, and the full-size Intrepid (also a Dodge in the U.S.), Concorde, 300M (this model’s front-drive predecessor) and LHS (yes, four unique luxury sedans under one brand name), plus the Town and Country minivan.

That already sizeable model lineup grew to include the PT Cruiser (a massive hit) and Prowler (this latter one due to the demise of Plymouth) in 2001, plus the Cirrus was swapped out for the new Sebring Sedan that year as well, while 2004 added the Mercedes SLK-derived Crossfire sports coupe (soon to include a roadster) and Pacifica mid-size crossover SUV. A key reason for Chrysler’s ultra-strong 2005 sales was the introduction of the model shown on this page. The 300 took North American roads by storm, while the Dodge Durango-based Aspen SUV was added in 2007.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300 may be getting on in years, but its standard tech is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To help paint a picture of just how far Chrysler has fallen, back in the day the place to be at a major auto show was the Chrysler stage, with concepts like the 1993 300 four-door coupe (it made me this import fan want to own a Chrysler), 1995 Atlantic coupe, 1996 LHX luxury sedan, 1997 Phaeton four-door convertible, 1998 Chronos four-door coupe (to die for gorgeous), 1999 Java (the small car they should’ve built), 2000 300 Hemi C Convertible (absolutely stunning), 2004 ME Four-Twelve mid-engine supercar (we were all shocked beyond belief at this well-kept secret), 2005 Firepower (possibly my favourite of all), and 2006 Imperial (you can’t win ‘em all, but it showed the premium vision Chrysler’s powers that be had for the brand at the time).

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
Gorgeous primary gauges are filled with a large colour TFT multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

After that it was as if Chrysler lost its ability to dream, with the awkward 2007 Nassau, the boring 2008 EcoVoyager, the pretty albeit too production-ready 200C EV, the Lancia-based “Design Study Concept” (even the name was boring… it’s written up as one of the 25 worst concepts ever created, and actually became the Euro-only 2012 Chrysler Delta), nothing at all for 2011, and the strangely contorted 700C minivan concept for 2012. Sadly, the most exciting Chrysler concepts to come along in years were the 2012 Chrysler Review GT and 2013 Imperial, which were only renderings and not even penned by Chrysler.

Not a single notable Chrysler concept was created from 2013 through 2016, with this year’s Portal being a boxy electric people mover that could’ve just as easily been imported from the wacky Tokyo auto show. If it weren’t for the new Pacifica minivan, I’d say Chrysler has lost its vision as a brand.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
Limited trim adds leather upholstery and much more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This said Chrysler’s entire future is riding on a handsome and very well built minivan, but a minivan just the same. If it were a compact or mid-size crossover SUV, that would be something to really build on in today’s market, but minivan numbers (other than the budget priced Dodge Grand Caravan) are stable at best.

The mid-size 200 family sedan is still available as a 2017 model, but according to FCA it’s being cancelled to make way for more SUVs. A shame as it’s selling fairly well (just below the Nissan Altima and ahead of the Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat/CC, Subaru Legacy, and Mazda6 in Canada), which means when it gets discontinued later this year its 64,213 collective U.S. and Canadian sales (188,850 in 2015 before they announced the cancellation) will make a significant dent in Chrysler’s total head count.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
How do the rear seats measure up? Check back to find out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

A minivan and well-seasoned full-size luxury sedan won’t make up for those kind of numbers (56,903 last year and probably about 100,000 this year, respectively), which means the brand’s sales could even fall below Mitsubishi in the immediate future (and that would be very low).

I know I paint a bleak picture, but I’m stating nothing new to anyone who follows the auto industry. Chrysler’s been kept alive thanks to Dodge branded models that have, up until now, shared underpinnings, and most often sold in greater numbers. With the Avenger gone the 200 wasn’t able to sustain itself, so we’ll have to wait and see if FCA allows the Pacifica (which no longer shares anything other than the powertrain with the Grand Caravan) to remain solely a Chrysler, or if the automaker finally breaks down and builds a cheaper Dodge version in order to pull up sales volumes.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
That’s a Beats Audio boombox on the right side of the trunk. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Charger sedan, which attracted 76 more buyers last year than the 300, and to some extent the Challenger sports coupe that also shares the LX architecture, allows Chrysler’s flagship to exist. The two sedans will probably run mostly unchanged through 2018, at which point we’ll find out if replacements are currently in the works or not.

As it is, the second-generation Chrysler 300 before you is now a seven-year old model, which is pretty ancient for this day and age. The fact that it’s still so very good is testament to how advanced it was when it came out in 2011, not to mention how phenomenal the original 2005 model was when it arrived in 2004. Why does that 13-year old model matter? Because the LX platform architecture the current model rides upon is the same. To the 300’s credit, many of the original car’s components were shared with the 2003–2009 W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Chrysler was previously owned by Daimler), hence why it’s so damn good.

Of course, the new model was massaged significantly for its 2011 update, so much so that it looked, drove and felt like a completely new car. Its refinement was over-the-top back then, and while still fairly good compared to cars of that era, it’s falling behind now.

I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming review, but I’ll also be fair in my judgment as this 2017 300 AWD Limited model packs a lot of value for the money asked. Stay tuned my full report…

In the mainstream volume auto sector only Daimler’s Smart brand has fewer models than FCA’s Chrysler. Chrysler has three. And next year it’ll be down to two. Just how FCA allowed this to happen…

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum
The stylish new Pacifica Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient minivan ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In the mainstream volume auto sector only Daimler’s Smart brand has fewer models than FCA’s Chrysler. Chrysler has three. And next year it’ll be down to two. Just how FCA allowed this to happen is anyone’s guess outside of Auburn Hills, but at least the two models that will carry the Pentastar flag into 2018 are very good at what they do.

Case in point, the 300 luxury sedan is the perennial Canadian bestseller in both the mainstream full-size luxury sedan class and the mid-size luxury class. They’re obviously doing something right. The Pacifica currently in our garage hasn’t been so fortunate thus far, and this new plug-in Pacifica Hybrid even less so, but to Chrysler’s credit sales have been rising after a new entry-level model was recently introduced and prices concurrently came down.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum
The Pacifica’s aerodynamic lines help to minimize fuel consumption on the highway. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even more importantly it’s the best minivan in its segment, at least in this auto journo’s opinion. I’ll tell you exactly why in an upcoming review, plus give you a few reasons why I believe it’s not selling as well as it could. In the meantime, here are a few details about the model we’ve been living with this week:

Our $56,495 Pacifica Hybrid Platinum includes most everything offered in base $52,495 Hybrid Premium trim, such as a 7.0-inch full-colour configurable in-cluster multi-info display, tri-zone auto climate control, 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment, a 360-degree parking camera, heatable front seats, satellite radio, dynamic cruise control with low speed follow plus stop and go functionality, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with active lane keep assist, and much more.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum
A beautifully detailed cabin filled with luxury and tech make clear that fuel economy wasn’t the Pacifica Hybrid’s only objective. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On top of these items the Platinum adds more chrome exterior trim, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity-sensing hands-free dual power sliding doors and liftgate, pushbutton ignition, a more upscale interior with contrast stitching in key areas, a two-tone heated leather and genuine metal trimmed steering wheel, navigation with mapping, perforated Nappa leather upholstery with ventilation up front, rear entertainment with dual flip-up 10-inch touchscreens, and the list goes on.

Both Pacifica Hybrid trims get a 32A socket on the left front fender for recharging its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, which allows about 50 kilometers of EV driving after which it automatically transforms into a regular gasoline-electric hybrid with the majority of its fuel savings in town as well as a reasonable advantage on the highway. It’s safe to say its estimated 2.6 Le/100km combined city/highway fuel economy (when factoring in EV driving) is best in class, as is its total possible range of 911 km, which makes it the ideal choice for family road trips (we took a load of friends to a local tulip festival and will have their backseat feedback included in the review).

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum
These comfortable Nappa leather-clad front seats are both heated and cooled. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It takes about two hours to recharge the battery with a Level 2 240-volt charger, these available for your home from your FCA dealer or via aftermarket sources, or you can find them (for free most of the time) in front of shopping malls, government buildings, hotels, some retail stores like Walmart and Ikea, or curbside in most urban centres. Alternatively you can plug it into a regular 120-volt socket at home or work, at which point you’ll need about eight hours to top it up from empty.

A big charge indicator on top of the dash lets you know that all systems are working by showing one to five blue lights, these large and bright enough to be seen from a distance. Once unplugged these disappear so as not to distract while driving. This is the best charge indicator I’ve used, so kudos to Chrysler for getting this right.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum
Second-row captain’s chairs make rear passengers feel nearly as coddled as those up front. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s about all I’m going to say about living with the Pacifica Hybrid for now, leaving the most important details for a full review scheduled later this month (including the positives and negatives of Chrysler’s innovative electrically variable transmission that utilizes twin electric motors for turning the drive wheels).

I’ll let you know now that choosing the Hybrid over the conventionally powered Pacifica brings significant drawbacks, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. I’ll point out each of these later, along with the various features missing from this pricier Hybrid Platinum that were included in my previous gasoline-only powered Pacifica Limited, some of which made the conventionally powered van look and feel a lot more premium.

In the meantime let’s give Chrysler a big cheer for diving right into the deep end by not only introducing the world’s first hybrid minivan, but also making it a plug-in right off the bat. That takes a lot of courage, especially for such a niche brand. Come back soon for more…

An epic minivan deserves an epic review, so grab a coffee (no, make that two coffees) and settle into a comfy chair because our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited road test is a tell-all comparo that’ll…

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Road Test

The Pacifica is going to be a very interesting experiment.

Let's be honest for a moment. The Chrysler brand isn't exactly robust when it comes to sales or models. As of last year it has become Canada's slowest selling mainstream brand other than Mini, Fiat and Smart. Yes that means even Mitsubishi outsells Chrysler, and by a significant margin. It's not doing much better in its home market south of the 49th either, outselling the three city car brands just mentioned as well as Mazda and Mitsubishi last year, but Mazda, which is known for selling poorly in the U.S., has already sold almost 50 percent more units within the first two months of 2017, so it's not looking good for Chryco.

The problem? Chrysler currently has just three models in its lineup including the 200 mid-size sedan, the 300 full-size sedan, and the Pacifica minivan, although the 200 is slated for cancellation when 2017 ends and sales have dropped off considerably since this was announced. As you may have Read Full Story
For almost 30 years the Town & Country has been a cut above when it comes to minivans, and top-line 2016 Limited Platinum trim continues this heritage into the model’s final year. Yes, it’s to be…

2016 Chrysler Town

I feel like I'm writing a eulogy to an old friend rather than a car review, the 2016 Town & Country in its final season of availability after 27 years of playing second fiddle to the Dodge Grand Caravan in sales, yet concertmaster when it comes to upscale class and luxury. Still, while the name will disappear a Chrysler minivan replacement is already touring auto shows to rave reviews, the new Pacifica pulling its name from the Pentastar brand's luxury crossover past in order to bridge the gap between ever-popular mid-size sport utilities and the diehard family hauler with sliding side doors.

While I'm tempted to wax strong on the new Pacifica, because I really like what I see and was impressed when poking around inside at Chrysler's auto show stand, the outgoing Town & Country deserves my full attention out of respect alone. After all, few nameplates can lay claim to nearly 30 years of constant production, although it should be noted the previous Town & Country station Read Full Story
After more than 30 years on the road, FCA’s minivans are still totally dominant with 60% of their market in Canada, but it certainly can’t hurt to add a new S trim line for the luxury-equipped Town…

2015 Chrysler Town

Can you imagine what would have happened if Chrysler group had actually replaced the Grand Caravan with the Journey back in 2008 as was expected? They certainly would've sold a lot fewer vehicles, 333,800 since 2009 in Canada alone to be exact (and another 764,709 in the US, plus who knows how many more in the rest of the Americas and overseas?). The Journey does very well in its mid-size crossover SUV class, but it's nowhere near as successful as Dodge's trusty old family van north of the 49th. If we merely cherry pick calendar year 2014, which was hardly the Caravan's best 12 months, Dodge sold 51,759 Grand Caravans to Canadian customers compared to just 24,715 Journeys, that last number making the crossover utility one of the top sellers in its mid-size class, yet dwarfed by the humble minivan, the fifth best-selling vehicle in Canada overall, incidentally. As of September this year it's sold 34,762 units to the Journey's 19,156, so all-round it appears to have been a decision well Read Full Story