2012 Chrysler 300S V6. Click image to enlarge
The front seats are wide and comfortable with big side bolsters, but they were a little bit too wide for my narrow frame. However, the driving position can be adjusted to suit just about any driver thanks to a height adjustable driver’s seat, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and power adjustable foot pedals. Both the driver’s seat and front passenger seat have power height, lumbar, recline, and fore-aft adjustments and both front seats have seat heaters. Even the steering wheel is heatable. Oh, and let’s not forget the heated and cooled front cupholders!
In front, there’s plenty of headroom and legroom although the optional dual sunroof cannibalizes some headroom. The outboard rear seats are comfortable with generous leg- and footroom and about an inch of headroom, but the raised centre hump isn’t ideal due to the centre tunnel and protruding front centre armrest. The outboard rear seats have (optional) two-step seat heaters. A centre folding armrest with cupholders and storage box can be folded down between the seats. The rear head restraints are not height adjustable.
Behind the steering wheel are two attractive chrome-trimmed gauges with blue backlighting and a small colour information screen that provides trip information such as average and current fuel economy. It’s a classy cluster.
The big 8.4-inch diameter centre touchscreen has large, easy to read symbols and numerals that are also easy to locate with your finger. The only problem is screen glare that can occasionally obscure the screen; a hood over the screen is one solution that some automakers have adopted, but not Chrysler.
In addition to its function as a navigation display, the centre screen is used as a touch control panel for the climate control, audio system, telephone, trip computer, and system settings. Some functions, such as heater temperature and audio volume control, are duplicated by traditional manual controls below the screen, but many functions can only be operated on the screen, such as ventilation choices and seat heaters. This becomes a problem when you have to switch screens while driving in order to turn on a particular function — for example if the navigation map is being displayed and you want to turn on the seat heater. However, all the important functions have traditional dials or buttons on the dash or steering wheel.
The 300S includes an awesome sound system that was designed by Beats Audio founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. The “Beats by Dr. Dre” audio system includes a 552-watt amplifier, three 3.5-inch speakers in the instrument panel, two 3.5-inch speakers in the rear doors, two 6×9-inch front door woofers for bass, two 6×9-inch speakers, and a centre-mounted 8-inch speaker in the rear shelf. For a strong bass, there’s an 8-inch subwoofer in the trunk. This rich-sounding premium stereo is just one reason why the 300S is such a good value.
Additional controls for volume, seek, and channel selection are found on the back of the steering wheel. I’ve always preferred these to controls on the front of the steering wheel because a driver’s natural grip on the wheel leaves the forefingers behind the steering wheel where it’s easy to press the controls while maintaining a tight grip.
Crucial to today’s connected car buyer is a complete hands-free phone and audio system. Chrysler’s Uconnect Touch 8.4 Media Centre includes voice command and Bluetooth streaming audio, a 30-GB hard drive, iPod control, SD Card Slot, Remote USB, and a one-year subscription to Sirius satellite radio. After setting up your phone once, it links to the system wirelessly as soon as the audio system is turned on. Music devices can also be connected via cables to the USB and auxiliary ports in the storage box under the centre armrest. 12-volt outlets can be found in that bin and in the smaller bin at the bottom of the centre console.