The Chrysler 300 has boldly bucked the industry’s widespread shift to front-wheel drive, but the end might be near for one of America’s last big rear-wheel drive sedans. Company boss Sergio Marchionne recently hinted that engineers could have major changes in store for the next-generation 300, and they’re not likely to please owners of the current model (pictured).
The brand new platform found under the 2017 Pacifica, Chrysler’s latest minivan, can be modified to underpin a large sedan like the 300, according to Marchionne. If Chrysler decides to take that route, the next 300 will come standard with a transversally mounted engine and front-wheel drive, and buyers who need more traction will be able to order all-wheel drive in exchange for a few thousand additional dollars.
Don’t start a riot quite yet, Chrysler fans. Marchionne pointed out that it’s technically possible to build the 300 on the Pacifica platform and assemble the two in the same Windsor, Canada, factory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. The sedan is still at the embryonic stage of development, so a final decision hasn’t been made yet and Chrysler still has time to mull it over because the second-gen 300 isn’t expected to arrive until halfway through 2018 at the very earliest. Some sources even claim it’s been delayed until 2019 or later, giving engineers, executives, and bean-counters additional time to think it through.
The future looks more grim for the 200, the 300’s smaller sibling. Chrysler will quit assembling the slow-selling compact either late this year or early next year. The company is currently looking for a partner that has enough extra production capacity to continue building the 200 on its behalf, but if no deal is made in the coming months the sedan will be deep-sixed after just a few short years on the market. The Dodge Dart is facing the same fate.