• Sep 29, 2011
"The best Chrysler sedan we've seen in decades," says Consumer Reports, in reference to the 2011 Chrysler 300. At the risk of damning a very fine car with faint praise, that may not be all that much of an accomplishment. And we'd have to add that the last all-new Chrysler 300, which hit the market in model-year 2005, was also the best Chrysler sedan the world had seen in decades.

That said, we agree – the redesigned 2011 Chrysler 300 is indeed a giant leap forward for the brand.

The previous-generation Chrysler 300 only managed to eke out a rather miserable score of 64 points, which placed it near the bottom of its class of upscale sedans. The redesigned 2011 model, though, earns an "Excellent" overall test score of 80. Also receiving Excellent scores are the 2012 Hyundai Genesis (which led the field with 92 points, according to CR) , along with the refreshed Acura TL and Toyota Avalon, all of which fall into the same upscale sedan classification.

In other news from CR, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sedan did not fare well when tested against its non-hybridized siblings. With an overall score of 69, the Sonata Hybrid earned a full 20 points less than the highly rated gas-only Sonata GLS. CR cited poor handling and an unrefined drivetrain as reasons for the low score, saying that "the trade-offs in driveability, refinement, and braking performance are too high" versus the Sonata GLS.

Also tested by CR was the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which was blessed with an overall score of 78. The electron-fueled hatchback was praised for its low running costs of just 3.5 cents per mile, but it was held back by a highly variable driving range that plummeted to just 60 miles in the winter with the heat on. Driven gently in mild weather, CR managed up to 90 miles of range from the Leaf.

For all the details from Consumer Reports' latest round of automotive testing, check out the complete press release after the break.
Show full PR text
CONSUMER REPORTS: REDESIGNED CHRYSLER 300 NOW RANKS AMONG THE BETTER UPSCALE SEDANS

Hyundai Genesis tops competitive test group in November issue; Nissan Leaf & Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also tested


YONKERS, NY - Revamped for 2011, the Chrysler 300C scored an "Excellent" overall road test score of 80 in Consumer Reports' latest tests of four upscale sedans, up from 64 for the previous model. The 300C now ranks midpack among the 10 upscale sedans that have been tested by CR. Previously, it had been near the bottom of the pack.

It's unusual to see a redesigned model rise so far in Consumer Reports' ratings. CR's engineers and editors called the new 300 "the best Chrysler sedan we've seen in decades."

"The 300C's quick, muscular 5.7-liter V8 engine is now complemented by responsive handling and a more comfortable ride," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. "And, thanks to a major upgrade, its roomy interior is now quieter, more luxurious, and has improved visibility."

Consumer Reports' latest test group included four upscale sedans-the Chrysler 300C, Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Avalon, and Acura TL. The Hyundai Genesis has topped CR's ratings of upscale sedans since 2009 and received an Excellent road test score of 92. The Genesis received a mild freshening for 2012, giving it a softer, more comfortable ride; a stronger direct injected V6; and a more fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission, which helped to improve overall gas mileage by 1 mpg. Also receiving Excellent overall scores were the freshened Toyota Avalon and Acura TL.

Separately, the organization also tested the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a fuel-efficient family sedan, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The Sonata Hybrid scored a disappointing 69, a full 20 points below the previously-tested and more popular conventional Sonata GLS. The Leaf scored a 78, which places it midpack among the six fuel-efficient hatchbacks that have recently been tested by CR.

The Sonata GLS is among Consumer Reports' highest-rated family sedans. Although the Sonata Hybrid gets better fuel economy than its non-hybrid doppelganger, the trade-offs in driveability, refinement, and braking performance are too high. The car stumbles and hesitates as it makes the transition from electric to gas power and both handling and braking are less capable.

The Leaf, which is the first widely available and affordable all-electric car, is a civilized vehicle with very low running costs. It's quick, very quiet, rides comfortably and is easy to get in and out of. The Leaf's main drawbacks are a limited driving range of only about 75 miles per charge, and it takes a long time to recharge, about 6 hours on 240V.

The full report on upscale sedans and fuel-efficient vehicles is available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org on September 29th, and in the November issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands October 4. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

All of the models tested in this month's issue are Recommended except for the Sonata Hybrid and Nissan Leaf. The Sonata Hybrid scored too low to be recommended. Reliability is still unknown for the Leaf. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices for the tested vehicles ranged from $26,695 for the Sonata Hybrid to $44,730 for the 300C.

The 300C is the top-level, V8-powered version of the 300 large sedan. The ride is steady and compliant, and the highway ride is composed. The cabin is very quiet overall. The Chrysler 300C ($44,730 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 363-hp, 5.7-liter V8 engine that delivers strong performance, but it gets just 18 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. Many buyers would be happy with the 300's base 3.6-liter V6 engine; it provides better fuel economy with still-strong acceleration. The 300C's five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is plush and well-finished with large and straightforward touch-screen controls. Driver visibility is much improved with the redesign, but it still isn't great. A shallow trunk expands by folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks.

The V6 Genesis provides most of the benefits of a $50,000 luxury car for $10,000 less. The updated V6 powertrain is punchy, and fuel economy has improved slightly. Handling is responsive. The ride is now more settled, but it still falls short of a true luxury sedan. The Hyundai Genesis 3.8 ($39,850 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 333-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine that is strong and smooth and gets 22 mpg overall. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished and has simple controls. Cargo space is modest.

The Avalon could pass for a luxury sedan from Toyota's upscale Lexus brand. It has a relaxed and comfortable ride that deftly mutes road imperfections. On the highway it's remarkably serene. The Toyota Avalon Limited ($36,628 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that is strong and gets 23 mpg overall, impressive for such a large car. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly and flawlessly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished with excellent seats, but the rear is rather cramped. The large trunk includes a small pass-through to accommodate long objects such as skis, but rear seatbacks don't fold down.

The TL is well-rounded, but it doesn't stand out in its class. Although some road and wind noise intrude, the cabin is quiet overall. The TL's taut ride is well controlled and firm, yet supple. The Acura TL $36,465 MSRP as tested), is powered by a smooth, punchy 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 24 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished. The trunk is a nice size but has a small opening. The center rear armrest folds down to allow long items like skis to pass through into the cabin, but the seatback doesn't fold.

The Sonata Hybrid's drivetrain lacks refinement. Throttle response is slow, making the car feel more underpowered than it is. The ride is controlled yet supple. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($26,695 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 206-hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine that that is adequate and gets 33 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission is not as smooth as the continuously variable transmissions found in most competing hybrids. The ride is controlled yet supple. Stopping distances are long and handling limits are reduced compared to other Sonata models. The interior is well finished. The Sonata's compact lithium-polymer battery consumers less trunk space than in competing hybrid sedans.

The Nissan Leaf's full road test culminates a five month period since CR bought the car in California. Driving range can vary dramatically depending on the conditions. Its battery was good for about 90 miles on good days with gentle driving. But in cold weather, CR's testers saw the range drop to as little as 60 miles because the heater puts an additional drain on the battery. The car's limited range makes it best as a commuter car or an urban runabout. The Nissan Leaf SL ($35,430 MSRP as tested), is powered by an 80-kw electric motor (equivalent to 107-hp) that accelerates effortlessly and power is supplied by a 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that sits under the floor. On average, the Leaf delivered 3.16 miles per kWh, or the equivalent of 106 mpg in mixed driving. That gives the Leaf very low operating costs of about 3.5 cents per mile at average national electricity rates of 11 cents per kWh. The Leaf rides well but handling, though secure, lacks agility. Braking is Very Good. The interior is nicely finished but not posh. The hatchback has a deep well, but because of the battery's location, the floor isn't flat when the rear seats are folded.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 54 Comments
      Oceanblue78
      • 3 Years Ago
      The new 300 is definitely the best Chrysler is a long time. It is a beautiful car too that looks good in all colors. The Genesis and Avalon and all those others...give me a break. It does not phase me though, CR has been a joke for decades.
        to your email L
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Oceanblue78
        I'll consult them before buying a car. All those whiners about CU don't get it.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm glad that Chrysler and Hyundai are BOTH finally making great cars after several years of being the laughing-stock. I rented a brand new 300 a month ago on a work-related trip from my home in Southern New Hampshire to NYC. The ride was so refined and the interior quality was so much better than before that I had to park the car and get out and check the badges to make sure it was a Chrysler. The Hyundai is also a great leap forward, just 5 years ago they were making complete POS Accents and Sonatas, now they have some of the best designs and they are some of the best values on the market. Granted, I'd buy a 335i or G37 over the Genesis any day of the week, but if I didn't have the money but still was looking at this general segment, I'd go straight to the Hyundai dealer and pick up a shiny new Genesiis.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Alex Rodriguez MacFa
        • 3 Years Ago
        Almost !!! That's the key word. When you have a successful design you don't need to revolutionize its successor. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" Have you seen the 2012 Beetle? The 2012 Porsche 911? The 2012 Audi A6? the Merc E-class? The new 2013 Malibu? These vehicles are only evolutionary designs from its successful predecessors. I've seen the new 300 in the street and the car is a head turner especially with those LEDs. It's a beautiful car they I'd take over any Caddy or Lincoln. Congrats Chrysler!!
        kingrat001
        • 3 Years Ago
        You're going blind. So sad.
          kingrat001
          • 3 Years Ago
          @kingrat001
          That was supposed to be a reply to Phillip the fat..WTF happened?
      TriShield
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've driven this and the new Charger a few times. It's so vastly better than the prior model that it's hard to believe it isn't a full redesign. The 300 really is the last real American-style luxury car left besides the Escalade. Cadillac cars are too busy trying to be German and failing. Lincolns are all FWD toothy versions of existing Fords. Buick can't be bothered to sell the Chinese Park Avenue here. This is about the only game left in town.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @TriShield
        [blocked]
          TriShield
          • 3 Years Ago
          I like the CTS-V but I disagree. It's trying to hard to be European. I don't think American cars should be anything like European cars. The CTS-V doesn't have enough room to stretch out and get coddled inside, it doesn't waft comfortably and quietly like a 300 and Escalade, but it certainly has the power. It's a cool muscle car, but it's not a great American luxury car. Neither is the standard CTS for that matter.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Blakkar
      • 3 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports hate domestic brands and it is obvious when they are the lone voice saying "this or that domestically made or branded vehicle sucks". They talked Sh't about the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger versus the Genesis Coupe until the overwhelming choirs by all other auto critics said the H-GC was NOT the best and frequently wasn't wasn't even good enough. CR couldn't be bothered to give the CTS high marks of anything until everyone else did then pretended they were the first to call it a great car. Having test driven the Genesis Sedan and 2012 300, the 300 is the better car by a small margin. The 300C (V8 model) is just superior all around because it comes with everything you could want. This is Why there are vastly more 300s than Genesis Sedans on the road as well. For what they individually are, American made and/or branded vehicles are as good as or better than their foreign competitors. Often doing so their way which is all the better to show who is actually better. No haze of similarity. CR is full of crap.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Blakkar
        [blocked]
        Mobis21
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Blakkar
        "CR is full of crap." Because you said that doesn't make it true. You have a hate on Consumer Reports, fine but don't make generalized statements that they are or ever were out to get domestic cars. For years, domestics lagged behind the Japanese imports and the domestics lost market share and sales to Japanese makes because of it. CR conducts annual surveys which showed that consumers found the domestics weren't as reliable as they used to be . That was then, but this is now and the domestics are making a BIG comeback because of their laser like focus on quality, reliability and design.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        1spam4you
        • 3 Years Ago
        Maybe yes with new 8-speed transmission and in near future with hybrid option I wonder that comes with turbocharged 3.6 pentastar that will have around 360 HP. And for some people 3.0 diesel option. But people will decide with the gas price what to buy
        ahjotah
        • 3 Years Ago
        Their biggest problem by far is brand perception. Something that Cadillac is still battling - it takes time. But if you think it's all about the economy and the costs of cars like this, the counter-intuitive truth is that you're wrong. BMW and Audi's sales are exploding even with super high insurance premiums. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/tu-felix-bavaria-audi-and-bmw-bring-in-record-numbers/ Besides, Chrysler's sales also have a lot of upward momentum at the moment. The segment the 300 plays ball in only represents 4% market share, so it's not like you're going to see one on every corner. (Although I did recently while riding around Rumson and Red Bank, NJ - wealthier areas).
      Felspawn
      • 3 Years Ago
      once they get the 8 speed in the 300C i could definatly see myself in one of them, it looks fantastic
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        sckid213
        • 3 Years Ago
        After reading your comments on here for weeks, it's clear you are living in the wrong decade. If this were 2001, all of your pro-Japanese statements and claims that Americans cars are "crap" would be true. But it's a new decade and the auto world is undergoing a huge shift, the kind that happens only every 20 years or so -- the last time being late '80s/early '90s when Japanese brands really started dominating. Today's playing field: The Americans (even Chrysler) are building solid, quality, goodlooking products that are nailing their targets. Not to mention making fast advancements in engine technology and fuel economy. The Koreans are coming up amazingly fast with head-turning styling, new tech, and a great value proposition. Meanwhile, your beloved Japanese brands are resting on their laurels, putting out warmed-over, ugly, overpriced, mediocre products that are not even close to innovative. Their audience is aging. They're full of arrogance and delusion, unable to believe that they could ever be dethroned. Sound familiar? Honda and Toyota are essentially Ford and GM of the '80s. You remind me so much of the American fanboys in the late '90s who would defend their obviously troubled brands to the death. Good intentions, wrong decade. Face reality bro.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @sckid213
          [blocked]
          MAX
          • 3 Years Ago
          @sckid213
          Libertarian billionaires pay operatives to dumb down the internet, it sounds implausible at first until they started catching some of them. You see at it on kind of websites.
        to your email L
        • 3 Years Ago
        Apparently you do not know how CU obtains and tests their cars. Stop listening to Fox News and the RWNM.
      CheckSites
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have been hearing the opposite of the Genesis. It sounds like an incredible deal, but once you get past the sticker-shock (the good type), it's generally an underwhelming vehicle (so I'm told, as well as have read!). I don't like to simply "jump on the band-wagon," but I find it absolutely true; Consumer Reports is of poor practice much of the time. They rarely announce credit where it is due for non Honda or Toyota products. Thrilled owner of a 1999 300M will be looking at the next generation 300 in 7 years :) No Daimler stuff for me, though.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      ilmhmtu
      • 3 Years Ago
      Start the CR bashing in 3.... 2....
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