2012 300 New Car Test Drive
The Chrysler 300 is a full-size four-door sedan that comes in a variety of models to suit a style, performance, or set of features. Whether V6 or V8 and regardless of model it's a roomy, comfortable, quiet cruiser. Apart from its relative the Dodge Charger, the Chrysler 300 is the only rear-wheel-drive sedan we can think of that you can get for less than $35,000.
Thoroughly revamped and restyled for 2011, the 2012 Chrysler 300 nonetheless gets some revisions. Some new models have joined the lineup for 2012: a stylish Chrysler 300S, the new Chrysler 300C Luxury Series, and a new Chrysler 300 SRT8 super-sedan.
The Chrysler 300S is a sportier 300, with 20-inch wheels and firmer suspension.
2012 Chrysler 300 V6 models offer a new 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF that makes the Hemi V8-powered car nearly irrelevant. With this new transmission, the V6 gets an EPA-estimated 31 mpg Highway.
A new, optional navigation system is the best we've ever seen, with a large, 8.4-inch screen that's easily understood at a glance and easy to operate. We highly recommend opting for it. Also new for 2012 are the usual assortment of color and wheel design upgrades, and not one but new sound system upgrades.
The Chrysler 300 has all the heritage traits of an American luxury sedan such as room, comfort, endless features and amenities, power and a degree of presence, yet is also has good road manners, stops and changes directions as well as it goes. It also has a distinctive look ever harder to find in this era of economy-driven aerodynamics, pedestrian impact standards and corporate styling.
All-wheel drive is available. The ride height on 2012 Chrysler 300 AWD models is slightly lower than on 2011 models.
The Chrysler 300 comes in nearly any combination of V6 or V8 engine, 5- or 8-speed automatic, and rear- or all-wheel drive.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 model comes packed with a 470-hp 6.4-liter V8 (only a Corvette ZO6's is larger), Brembo brakes, forged alloy wheels, and Bilstein adaptive dampers similar to those Maserati uses. It's quick and good bang for the buck.
Consideration for the Chrysler 300 covers a wide spectrum including the Cadillac CTS, Lincoln MKS, Lexus GS, Infiniti M, Hyundai Genesis, Volvo S60, BMW 3 Series by price or 5 Series by size, and Mercedes C and E classes for the same criteria. A 300C AWD can compete with Ford's Taurus SHO. At about $47,000, the SRT8 is a cost-effective sports sedan alternative to Cadillac's CTS-V, BMW's M-cars and Mercedes-Benz's AMG E-Class. A Hyundai Genesis R-Spec is near identically priced but we don't find it a performance match.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 ($27,170) comes standard with a 292-hp 3.6-liter V6, 5-speed automatic, cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control, multi-function tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver information center, keyless entry, power windows/locks/heated mirrors, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA Sirius audio with SD card and USB inputs, 12-way power driver seat, LED cabin lighting, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, and 17-inch wheels.
Options include an 8-speed automatic transmission ($1,000) and Uconnect voice control with Bluetooth ($295). Available for any 300 are Ivory pearl paint ($500) and an engine-block heater ($40). (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Chrysler 300 Limited ($32,170) upgrades to leather upholstery, 8-speed automatic, remote start, fog lamps, 18-inch wheels, 276-watt Alpine audio system, power passenger seat, and heated front seats. Chrysler 300 Limited AWD ($34,320) features all-wheel drive, bigger brakes and 19-inch wheels. The Luxury Group ($3,250) includes fancier leather, Olive wood trim, heated/cooled front seats and cupholders, heated rear seats, wood and leather wrapped heated power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, driver memory system, power rear sunshade and auto-dimming exterior mirrors. A SafetyTec package ($2,420) adds adaptive cruise control with collision warning, adaptive bi-Xenon SmartBeam headlamps, blind-spot and cross-path detection, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear park sensors, and rear fog lamps.
Chrysler 300C ($38,170) and 300C AWD ($40,320) come with a 363-hp 5.7-liter V8, 5-speed automatic and bigger brakes. Standard equipment mirrors the 300 Limited with Luxury Group and navigation, but with Olive wood optional. Also available: premium audio systems, SafetyTec package, moonroof, 19 and 20-inch wheels.
Chrysler 300S comes with a choice of V6 8-speed automatic ($33,170) with AWD ($35,320); V8 5-speed automatic ($39,710) with AWD ($41,320). S denotes body-color trim with gloss-black grille and headlight trim, matte carbon and piano-black cabin trim, 300S logo on cloth (V6) or leather (V8) seats, and the Beats By Dr. Dre sound system. The S V8 also gets rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers, and performance-tuned steering. 300S options include UConnect with 8.4-inch touch screen, Garmin navigation, Sirius Travel Link with Real Time Traffic and Sirius satellite radio ($795).
Chrysler 300 SRT8 ($47,170) comes with a 470-hp 6.4-liter V8, five-speed automatic, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Bilstein adaptive damping, and unique suspension and stability control calibration, brakes and tires. It also includes new nose and tail sections, sport seats with suede inserts, SRT-specific instrumentation and driver information, and a one-day driving experience on track with professional driver instruction. Most 300-line features are standard on the SRT8 though there are some options: three-season performance tires ($150), moonroof ($1,295), SafetyTec package, Harman/Kardon audio ($1,995), black chrome package and premium leather package. SRT8 carries a $1,000 federal Gas Guzzler Tax.
Safety equipment on the Chrysler 300 includes front, front side, driver knee, and side curtain air bags, electronic stability control with Brake Assist, and tire pressure monitoring system. The optional SafetyTec package groups several safety features together. Optional all-wheel drive improves stability in slippery conditions.