An end of an era as the Chrysler 300 finishes its final model year.
Sixteen years is a long time to build a model, especially one that has seen few changes since its debut. The Chrysler 300 is that model, a traditional full-size sedan and one of only two vehicles sold by the brand.
This week, we learned that the Chrysler 300 will soon be no more. Parent Fiat Chrysler has decided to retire the vehicle, although the similar Dodge Charger sedan and the Dodge Challenger coupe will likely live on. That said, the Dodges may eventually go away as well as FCA transitions chiefly to a maker of crossovers, SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.
Daimler Derived: Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 arrived on the market at the same time as the Dodge Magnum wagon and one year before the Charger’s debut. All four models (including the Challenger) share a common architecture developed by Mercedes-Benz. At that time, the brands were part of DaimlerChrysler, the ill-fated union of German and American automakers.
As for the 300, it was originally presented as a premium model, one designed to take on Buick and provide an affordable alternative to similar-sized models from Audi, BMW and Lexus. Its “gangster” good looks drove its appeal, with an extended wheelbase and multiple all-wheel-drive versions available. Later, the stretched wheelbase model was discontinued and all-wheel drive was restricted to the V6 models alone.
The 300 was also supposed to top a three-car model line. Indeed, that line already includes the 200, a midsize sedan and was supposed to be completed by the 100, a compact model. But plans for the 100 were canceled and production of the 200 was ended early as FCA later announced its full commitment to brands such as Ram and Jeep, with little left for Chrysler and Dodge.
Enter the Chrysler Portal
But the Chrysler brand isn’t likely to go away. Instead, as the 300 drives off into the distance, an electric van based on the Portal concept seems likely to arrive in 2020.
The Chrysler Portal Concept is an electric van “designed by millennials for millennials,” according to the company’s website. The concept was introduced in January 2017 at CES (Consumer Electronic Show) and just ahead of the North American International Auto Show (Detroit auto show).
When it comes to futuristic designs, the Portal Concept nails it. This van’s overall design features a boxy look tempered by dramatic curves and unique roof, door and hatchback elements. Indeed, this model has four sliding doors, which aid in access to the interior. Inside, the cabin is airy and expansive with four individual sculptured seats. The long and deeply canted windshield, glass roof and generous storage space are important design distinctions of note.
Electric, But Not Yet Autonomous?
Besides its catchy design and electric powertrain, the Chrysler Portal is supposed to be fully autonomous. That said, we’re not certain autonomous drive will be ready when this model debuts. Further, while it may offer full electrification, Chrysler hasn’t ruled out a range extender option, such as what’s offered with the BMW i3.
Please note that our comments here are largely speculative. The automaker hasn’t made an official announcement of the new model or of what it will entail.
As for the concept, Chrysler says that the Portal has a 250-mile electric range on a full charge. Further, the automaker says that by connecting to a DC Fast Charge outlet, the battery pack recharges to a 150-mile range in under 20 minutes. Other concept features include facial recognition technology, track-mounted seating that can fold flat, slide the full length of the vehicle or be removed.
Chrysler’s Van Approach
Although Chrysler hasn’t called the Portal a minivan, it is in every sense of the word just that. Moreover, it is much more of a true minivan than the current models available, including the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. All three are essentially medium vans that match the size of today’s full-size crossovers.
Finally, with the 300 gone, we’re entering a new era of automotive manufacturing where vehicles favoring electrification and autonomy gain ascendancy. That said, the consumer is the final arbiter of what the market offers, therefore it will be interesting to gauge how they respond to changes that are reshaping the landscape.
See Also — Concept Jeeps: The Crawl of the Future
Chrysler Portal Concept photo copyright Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.