When you drive the latest edition of the Chrysler 300 with the “S” package, you might have to rethink your definition of power.

Let me explain. I haven’t tested the 300 series in a few years, and had not admittedly, kept up with some of the new trim packages.

I think I must still be in mourning for the lovely little 300M that preceded it in the early 2000’s, and it took me awhile to adjust from that sleek little sedan to the much chunkier successor that we’ve known for most of this century.

But when I walked into the parking lot to look at the “S” model that was dropped off, my jaw dropped. Almost no chrome, big charcoal painted 19-inch wheels shod in low profile tires. The familiar formal 300 grill was blacked out and menacing. And this sports model was all-wheel-drive as well, so handling would be even better.

Yes, this had to be the big boy, the kahuna, the 4-door hammer for which every road looks like a nail.

I sat in the firm, black leather seats with 300S stitched into the backrest, looked out over the lovely, and simple cockpit and dash arrangement, and realized this is a vehicle that is all business.

Then I pressed the starter and what had to be a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 rumbled to life. And when on a quiet, fairly deserted road, I found that 60 miles per hour took me a hair over 6 seconds to achieve.

Then I lifted the hood and my grin got even bigger. This was the 3.6-liter V6 with 300 eager ponies underfoot, and I realized that Chrysler had fooled me completely. And yet, they didn’t because if the standard V6 can bring this much pure driving pleasure, why ask for more?

Well, you can, and the Hemi V8 driving the wheels through the same 8-speed automatic transmission, will lop a full second off that 0-60 time.

Mileage in our V6 test car was 21 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, and make no mistake, this is a big, heavy car. Yet, the handling was nimble and incredibly responsive. Corners felt like you were on rails, and when you hit the go pedal on a straight piece of asphalt, the response is instantaneous.

The “S” model checks in with a base price of $38,175, but ours had every electronic and comfort oriented doodad on the option sheet, and topped out just over $48.000.

It’s imposing, almost intimidating looks wowed everybody who saw it, and the performance sealed the deal. The Chrysler 300S is for real and all the reason you need to buy American.


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