As options for full-size sedans dwindle, the segment grows more competitive with the 2021 Toyota Avalon and 2021 Chrysler 300 each making a strong case.
Your choices for a full-size sedan have been getting fewer and fewer over the years as more and more car buyers shift their sights on crossovers and SUVs. Yet for those still interested in an actual car, those few anachronistic artifacts of a bygone automotive era, otherwise known as a full-size sedan, have remained compelling, competent vehicles still deserving of more than a sidelong glance as you hop into that RAV4 for a test drive.
The Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300 are not the hottest or most fashionable sedans out there. But they do excel at being what they are, large comfortable cars equally at home schlepping you and yours to and from whether on the local commute or cross-country road trip. Below, we compare the 2021 Chrysler 300 and 2021 Toyota Avalon to find out which is the last best hope for the full-size sedan.
The 2021 Toyota Avalon features three different powertrains. The standard engine is a 3.5L V6 putting up 301 horsepower and 267lb.-ft. of torque. It comes paired with an 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. The XLE and Limited trims get a 2.5L inline-four making 205 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. The 8-speed automatic is here too, but there’s the additional option of all-wheel drive (a first for the Avalon) at no extra cost. Fuel economy come in at 21 city and 30 highway mpg for the 3.5L V6 and 25/34 mpg for the four-cylinder.
For even better fuel efficiency there’s the Avalon hybrid which features a 2.5L I-4 and two electric motors for 215 horsepower, a CVT, and 43 city / 44 highway mpg.
The 2021 Chrysler 300 offers two powertrains. The Touring and Touring L trims get a 3.6L V6 with 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque. The 300S trim gets a tuned version of the same V6 good for 300 horsepower. It comes in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and gets 18-19 city and 27-30 highway mpg depending on your chosen drivetrain configuration.
And then there’s the 300’s 5.7L V8 making a healthy 363 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque. It comes in rear-wheel drive only and gets 16 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.
As we said, the 2021 Toyota Avalon does the classic sedan thing very well. The standard V6 is the preferred engine, with its decent but not overwhelming power and 6 second 0-60 time, over the lackluster and abrasive 2.5L four-cylinder. All-wheel drive is a valuable option; we just wish it could be paired with the better engine. The 8-speed automatic is competent either way, shifting smoothly in the background. The suspension provides a comfortable ride, soaking up potholes and bumps, and tight handling that belies the size of the car. The TRD trim stiffens the suspension a bit more but still errs on the side of comfort over sportiness.
The Chrysler 300’s V6 offers plenty of motivation and the 8-speed automatic shifts eagerly. The V8 delivers plenty of power and a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds but a significant cost to fuel economy. Still, the 300’s steering is light and accurate and eases the burden of maneuvering the large car in tight spaces. Ride quality is good in the Touring and Touring L while the top 300S trim has a stiffened suspension that can be rough at times.
The reason you buy the Toyota Avalon over the Toyota Camry is because it’s bigger inside. In this regard the Avalon doesn’t disappoint with 40.3 inches of rear seat legroom. The front seats are also roomy and very cushy. Like the new Toyota Venza and Toyota Mirai, the Avalon features an upscale interior that abuts their Lexus luxury brand cousins in terms of quality and finish. The one sour note is the centrally located bit of chintzy plastic in the center stack. Other than this, the Avalon offers a classic sedan cabin, comfortable and stylish in equal measure.
The Chrysler 300 is also exceedingly comfortable. It’s dated design holds it back a bit when compared to the more modern Avalon. Materials are good in the upper two trims while notably cheaper in the base Touring trim. There is, however, copious amounts of room for both passengers and cargo. The massive trunk offers 16.3 cu. ft. of room and there are lots of cubbies fore and aft for storage.
Both the Avalon and Chrysler 300 are comfortable cruisers. The more modern design of the Avalon sets it ahead of the 300.
XLE – $35,975 – keyless entry, heated front seats, leather steering wheel, HD and satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth, 9-inch touchscreen.
XSE Nightshade – $39,210 – Adds moonroof, black accents, and wireless charging.
Limited – $42,275 – Rear heated seats, vented front seats, HUD, navigation and wireless charging, ambient lighting.
Touring – $42,675 – Adds exterior accenting and sport exhaust.
TRD – $42,975 – rear spoiler, red accenting, synthetic leather and suede.
Standard safety includes blind spot monitoring, land departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alerts, pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise. Safety options include front and rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic braking.
Touring – $31,045 – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, Bluetooth, 2 USB ports, 8.4-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, voice command, keyless entry, and push-button start.
Touring L – $34,045 – remote start, Nappa leather seats, heated front seats, standard blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alerts. The Comfort Group package opens up ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a memory power driver’s seat.
300S – $37,995 – features the upgraded V6 engine or the optional V8 ($4,000), lager wheels, performance suspension, exterior accenting, and the Comfort package now features navigation and an upgrade infotainment system.
Just the rearview camera comes as standard safety equipment. Most of the safety technology is relegated to the Touring L trim’s Safety Tech Plus Group package and includes things like forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise.
Segments like minivans, full-size trucks, and full-size sedans don’t offer the dizzying array of options that say, compact crossovers do. As a consequence, these few options tend to be very good vehicles. In the case of the large sedan, the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300 are both competent and comfortable examples. But if you have to choose between the two, we’d recommend the Toyota Avalon for its impressive interior, wider (and more efficient) powertrain options, and generous list of standard safety features.