In any family, you’re likely to have a child that goes the blue-collar route and becomes an electrician, a carpenter, a policeman or a UAW line worker. In the same family, it’s entirely possible to have a sibling who pursues the white-collar path, ending up as a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Such is the case with the blue-collar Dodge Charger
and the white-collar Chrysler 300
Under the skin, the two share a lot of DNA, yet manage to feel distinctly different behind the wheel. Maybe it’s our white-collar aspirations, but we wouldn’t hesitate to call the 300 the most satisfying Chrysler sedan you can buy. It may not qualify as a full-on luxury car, and we doubt many buyers will cross-shop it against products from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but if you’re in the market for a full size sedan, the Chrysler 300 should be on your shopping list.
For 2012, the 300 gets a new eight-speed automatic transmission (on V-6 models) that boosts both fuel economy and performance. The range-topping 300 SRT8
returns, with its ground-pounding 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 cranking out 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. There are changes across the product line inside, too, including a new LCD touchscreen infotainment screen, more refined wood trim in select models and regrouped controls. The changes may be subtle, but they go a long way towards making the 300 a more enjoyable ride.
Base 300 models get Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, good for 292-horsepower and mated to the previously mentioned eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s good enough to produce a 0-60 mph run of under eight seconds, while returning an EPA-estimated 31 mpg on the highway. Step up to the 300 Limited, and you can configure the car with all-wheel-drive; opt for higher-trim versions like the 300S and 330C, and you’ll also get a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 for added power. The 5.7-liter V-8, however, is only available with the five-speed automatic transmission.
Topping the 300 range is the SRT8
, which comes powered by a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8, good for 470 horsepower, driving the rear wheels only through a five-speed automatic transmission. The SRT8 needs to be experienced to be understood; it will gleefully rip off sub-five-second sprints to 60 mph all day long, while its fade-free Brembo brakes provide a surprising amount of negative acceleration. In a corner, the big sedan seems to defy the laws of physics, providing a truly astonishing level of grip for a car with the 300’s mass. Even the tone of the exhaust is just right; it’s loud enough to hear, but never so loud as to be a distraction. If there’s such a thing as an American-Grand-Touring-Muscle-Sedan, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is king of the category.
Inside, there’s plenty of room for four adults, or even five in a pinch. Trunk space is ample, and the list of standard features is lengthy. All 300s get power windows, locks and mirrors; LED daytime running lights; a power driver’s seat; dual-zone climate control; satellite radio; a USB port and an 8.4-inch touchscreen display. Optional items, depending upon trim level, can include HID lighting, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, voice-controlled navigation, premium audio systems, leather upholstery and heated and cooled front seats.
For complete details on all the 2012 Chrysler 300 models, see our full line review on The Car Connection