By on March 4, 2012

Back in the day, “American cars” were vast pieces of rolling sculpture powered by low-revving V8s driving the rear wheels through three-speed slushboxes. With a column shifter and bench front seat, they were designed to float effortlessly along in a straight line. The “imports” were the opposite of all of the above. Today these distinctions have all but disappeared. Four-wheeled wretched excess—in styling, in horsepower, in features, in sheer mass—has become much more typical of Munich and Stuttgart than Detroit. Neither GM nor Ford even offers a large rear-wheel-drive sedan to Americans. If you want the most traditionally American car available—that isn’t a truck—your only options come from an Italian-controlled plant in Canada. The 2011 Dodge Charger (in 370-horsepower R/T form) and I didn’t hit it off. Perhaps the Dodge, with its “four-door muscle car” exterior and 4/3-scale instrument panel, was just too American for me. So I requested the Chrysler variant to test the 470-horsepower SRT mill. Is the 2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8 too American, appropriately American, or not American enough?

Exterior styling: appropriately American

In recent decades, domestic manufacturers haven’t had much luck getting the general public to notice their new cars. But periodically they put one out that EVERYONE notices. With bold, even brash styling, the 2005 Chrysler 300C was one of these cars. The 2011 redesign is more elegant and less gangsta. Would it have made as great an impact as the 2005 back in ‘04? Probably not. But with the 2005 to blaze a trail, and a strong resemblance between the two, the second-gen car can afford to be more subtle. The “baby Bentley” grille (stealing from the Brits being a longstanding American tradition) has been toned down, perhaps overly much. But a little rake to the beltline, which lends the car a more dynamic appearance, and a brilliantly executed rear end make up for this. Have the refinements robbed the 300C of its distinctly American character? Well, American styling isn’t necessarily over-the-top. Detroit didn’t only give the world the ’57 300C and ’59 Eldo. It also gave us the ’61 Continental and ’63 Riv.

Interior styling: not American enough

The 2005 Chrysler 300C’s interior was too traditionally American, with rectangular elements finished in silver and trimmed in faux chrome. With the 2011 redesign the interior was entirely redone. Materials have been upgraded, yet aside from the synthetic suede on the seats and door panels seem much more appropriate at $33,000 than at $53,000—always a danger when a single model spans a very wide price range. Most of the surfaces are the soft-touch sort, but many don’t LOOK soft. The design of the new interior is overly generic, and fails to continue the bold flavor of the exterior. As in many current Chryslers, the surface detailing is overly plain and seems incomplete. In SRT8 trim, which includes an anthracite headliner, only the instruments’ powder blue lighting (an interesting choice) saves the cabin from having all the cheer of a coal bin. Not a bad interior, just a cold and boring one.

The toned-down exterior pays visibility dividends. With a less radically upright windshield and enlarged windows, it’s much easier to see out. But you’re still clearly not sitting in any old car—the view over the hood still suggests size and muscle. As in the Charger, those under 6-2 will want to raise the front seat. Unlike in the Charger, the instrument panel doesn’t seem ridiculously large even with the seat raised. The front seats are large and comfortable, but aren’t as aggressively bolstered as those in the first-generation SRT8. This last change could be good or bad, depending on how large you are. But all is not optimal for the XXL driver: you won’t find the sort of wide open space that used to typify American iron thanks to the height and breadth of the un-American center console.

The rear seat isn’t as wide as the broad-shouldered exterior suggests, but the cushion is comfortably high and rear legroom, at just over 40 inches, is ample. The center console can swallow a fairly large camera. Truck volume, at 16.3 cubic feet, is merely acceptable for a car of this size, but the rear seat can be folded to expand it. This last feature is ironic: in a reversal of tradition, it’s now as rare in upscale Japanese sedans as it used to be in American ones.

Features and functionality: ergonomics knows no borders

The interior’s aesthetic restraint contributes to easy-to-use controls, which pair large knobs with a fat-finger-friendly touchscreen. A SafetyTec Package includes adaptive cruise, forward collision warning, a blind spot warning system, and cross-path detection. These systems work well enough—if you properly configure them. When the sensitivity of the forward collision warning is set to “far,” it detects an impending collision at any curve in the road where a sign is posted. I also disabled the audible warning for the blind spot system. Prior to these two tweaks the frequency of warning beeps was maddening. Unfortunately, no settings are offered for the seatbelt warning system, which has no grace period. (Buckle up immediately or be scolded.) The SRT8 includes an acceleration timer and G-meter. One suggestion with the latter: round very small numbers to zero. As is, the meter often displays 0.02 or so when heading straight down the road. A final oddity: the “Sport” button that adjusts the transmission and adaptive dampers is on the page for the seat heaters.

Engine: gloriously American

Look, Ma, no cover! For 2012, the SRT “HEMI” V8 engine gets a bump from 6.1 to 6.4 liters and the 5.7’s multi-displacement system. The former change enables a 45 horsepower bump, to 470 at 6,000 rpm. Torque is up 50 pound-feet, to 470 at 4,300 rpm. The 6.4 is vocal when prodded, but not too loud, and its noises are music to any enthusiast’s ears. Despite a fairly high state of tune and pushrod valve actuation, there’s no lumpy idle or mechanical thrashing at high rpm. The regular 300C mill is hardly torque-deficient, with 394 pound-feet at 4,200 rpm. Still, the SRT8’s additional twist is readily evident. In fact, the Goodyear Eagle RS-A 2s on the tested car were not remotely capable of handling all of it. Mash the go pedal at any speed up to 35 and the rear end not only breaks loose but kicks out to the right. On dry pavement. Grippier summer tires are a $150 option. (These were originally installed on the tested car, but were removed for the winter.)

Transmission: too American even if it’s German

Though Detroit’s longstanding ratio deficiency appears to be nearing its end, this end hasn’t come soon enough for the 2012 300C SRT8. The five-speed automatic supplied by former “partner” Daimler is not only short on ratios but slow to react and often bumpy when it finally does so. Hopefully the ZF 8-speed automatic paired with the V6 migrates up the line soon.

Fuel economy: too American

The original SRT8 engine incurred a $2,000 gas guzzler tax. (Unless you got the Dodge Magnum wagon, which was classified as a truck.) One reason: the 6.1 lacked the 5.7’s cylinder deactivation system, whereby the engine runs on only four cylinders while cruising. I suggested that they add it.

With the 6.4, they have. Results are…mixed. The EPA ratings are up from 13 city / 19 highway to 14 / 23. The gas guzzler tax is halved. In suburban driving with a light to moderate foot the trip computer reported between 14 and 16 miles-per-gallon. A heavy foot easily sends the numbers into the single digits.

So, what’s not to like about this improvement (aside from its modest size)? Combine the SRT8’s more vocal character with cylinder deactivation and you get a mildly unpleasant rumble in “eco.” Active noise cancellation would help.

Handling: too American?

The 300C SRT8, with the benefit of a slightly firmer suspension and adaptive dampers, handles better than the Charger R/T. But it’s still not a budget alternative to the $67,000+ Cadillac CTS-V. The Chrysler feels much larger—partly because it is larger (198.6 x 75.0 vs. 191.6 x 72.5 inches, 4,365 vs. 4,255 pounds). But beyond this the Chrysler’s steering doesn’t feel as sharp, as nuanced, or as direct and its body motions aren’t as tightly or as precisely controlled. Pitch the big car into a curve and there’s a touch of slop before the chassis takes a set (even in “Sport”). Once there, the car handles stably and predictably. In a much more fair comparison, the SRT8 rides and handles with considerably more composure than the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec, the only other largish sedan with 400+ horsepower at a similar price.

While the suspension can get jittery over the small stuff, it absorbs larger bumps well and remains far from harsh. Noise levels are fairly low, with the overall ambiance just short of that of a truly premium car. The 300C SRT8 doesn’t make you want to take the long way home, but it doesn’t make every mile of your commute feel like a punishment, either. You’ll feel like a badass while driving this car, without suffering one.

Pricing: appropriately American

The tested $53,435 car had the SafetyTec Package and the 900-watt audio system, each of which bumps the price by $1,995, but not the $1,495 panoramic sunroof (which would have helped lighten up the dark interior). A Cadillac CTS-V equipped like an unoptioned 300C SRT8 is over $18,000 more—hence the unfairness of my comparisons to it. And the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec? It has standard equipment comparable to that of the tested car, plus a sunroof. Add 19-inch tires to the Hyundai, and it lists for $48,750, with no gas guzzler tax. So about $6,200 less than the Chrysler before adjusting for remaining feature differences and about $4,100 less afterwards (based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool). Compared to any other 400-plus-horsepower sedan, though, the Chrysler costs far less. An Infiniti M56 is about $15,000 more. Something European? If you have to ask…

Overall: honestly American

A sign of the times: the most American sedan you can buy is assembled in a Canadian plant with a Mexican engine and a German transmission by an Italian-controlled company. So what makes it American? The configuration, the look, the feel. A large, powerful, boldly (yet also tastefully) styled semi-premium car at a relatively low price? You can’t get much more American. The Hyundai Genesis R-Spec has similar specs and a similar price, but it has no identity, neither a heritage nor anything that makes it special. Granted, the 300C SRT8 looks more special than it feels. In normal driving, its drivetrain and chassis provide few clues to the car’s performance potential. But is this a weakness? For me personally, yes. But today’s upscale sedans sacrifice driver involvement in favor of driver isolation. They’re all becoming more American because this is what many people worldwide, not just most Americans, want. At least the Chrysler comes by this character honestly.

Chrysler provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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114 Comments on “Review: Chrysler 300C SRT8...”


  • avatar
    Andy D

    The first gen of the new 300C conjure up a chopped and channeled 49 Dodge. With its wimpy flathead 6, the Dodge was too stodgy to hot rod. The Magnum evokes the Wayfarer of the same era.

  • avatar
    bd2

    I wouldn’t exactly refer to te sheetmetal of the 300 as “bold.”

    The previous generation 300 was kinda bold for its time (aside from the fact that many considered it a “faux Bentley”); the current 300 is pretty much the same, but toned down – so not exactly a recipe for “bold.”

    In particular, the greenhouse, rear and headlight shape of the 300 is pretty mundane.

    And I don’t know how much “heritage” the 300 has considering it’s only recently begun its 2nd generation, unless one is talking about the general heritage of Chrysler, but does that mean the Chrysler K cars or the 200 get the same boost?

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      Are you forgetting about the ’55-’65 300 “letter” series, or the ’62-’71 300, or the ’99-’04 300M? The Chrysler 300 nameplate has been around a *long* time.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It has the heritage of a number of years as the used lot ride of choice for homies as unable to secure financing for an Escalade as they are to keep their pants up.

      The effect isn’t truly complete without a set of larger and more ghetto fabulous wheels, ideally accompanied by an entire Pep Boys aisle of plastichrome glue ons.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      No heritage?

      At one point, the Chrysler 300 was the fastest, most powerful car sold in America. The name came from the fact that it was the first car available with 300 HP when it was launched in 1955. A few years later power was up to 400 HP:

      “During 1960, Chrysler made some 9 or 10 300F “Specials” (four still exist) with 400HP engines. Six of these captured the first six places at the Daytona flying mile event, reaching speeds in the 140 to 145 mph range. 300F Specials are among the most valuable of all post-war collectable cars.”

      source: http://www.chrysler300club.com/History.htm

      Personally I would like to see Chrysler play up their heritage a bit more, and dust off some of their old nameplates for the big LX cars:
      Base V6 300 -> Newport
      Base 300, but with a HEMI -> Saratoga
      300 Limited -> New Yorker
      300 SRT8 -> 300 N (I think this is what letter comes next…)

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Chrysler has a fine motor in their new Pentastar corporate V6.

      At first glance, I believed that they did most of what was necessary to rectify the sins of the pre-2011 300, but as days go by, I’m beginning to think that even with the new motor and 8 speed transmission, along with slapping soft textured materials on former hard surfaces, will not be enough to stave off the impression that this is becoming too dated, and that Chrysler should use this as a 2 year refresh at most.

      Also, I realize there’s a much broader range of options available now, but price creep is an understatement for just how expensive the 300, in all of its iterations, is becoming. 50k for a Chrysler?
      (I realize it can be had for closer to $25k in far more spartan trim, but still…)

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…but they are aware that Chrysler made large, powerful, stylish cars in the glory days of Detroit.”

        They’re also aware that for the last few decades Chrysler made large, small and medium sized vehicles that we’re for the most part trash.

        Which image do you think is more prevalent in today’s consumer?

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I like black interior, but for that much money, I want the option of wood trim instead of the faux carbon-fiber. Some nice warm wood, even fake wood, would give that interior some warmth and make it look a bit more upscale.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      According to the SRT website, the carbon fiber is real. Having said that, I agree with you – I’d prefer wood. The standard 300C interior in black with the real wood package is much nicer/warmer looking.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Something about the front end/grill just doesn’t look right on these cars, almost like it’s incomplete.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I think it’s the Chrysler logo being the same color as the chrome grill surround that looks a bit off. I can’t figure out how to make it look better though. If you black out the logo, it will imbalance the chromed logo in the rear, if you black out the grill surround, it won’t match the chrome bezel around the lower air intake. I suppose Chrysler could move the winged logo down into the center of the grill where it would stand out, but I’m not sure how much better that would look.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Yes ^this. BIG logo, dead center of grill. Otherwise it is in danger of looking like “any car”.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        +1 on the winged badge being on the center of the grille. Having it on the top of the grille is almost as if you were embarassed of it. Chryslers would look much more distinctive if they had it front and center.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      The grille reminds me of a Pacifica.

  • avatar

    Michael:

    Loved every word of it. You and I basically had the same observations.

    These tires SUCK and the infotainment needs a flash update.

    The only thing I was truly dissapointed with was fuel economy cause I truly thought Chrysler would have made the 6.4 better than my stock 6.1. What they offer instead is bigger, heavier and thirstier than my car.

    I don’t want the 8speed unless they build a unique shifter. I HATE THE NEW SHIFTER.

    I’m praying we don’t go to war with Iran cause I don’t want my 9mpg 300cSRT8supercharged to see $5.50/ gallon gas.

    • 0 avatar
      LeadHead

      I fail to see how a 4 MPG improvement highway, 1 MPG better city, 40 more HP, and at lower engine speeds nearly 100 lb/ft more torque at nearly any given RPM is not better than the 6.1..?

      Makes more power, gets better fuel economy and has a ton more low end torque, yet somehow it’s not better?

      • 0 avatar

        #1 IT’S TOO HEAVY.
        #2 The stock tires can’t handle the power. It needs summer-only high performance tires.
        #3 Michael observed higher gas mileage than I did in the 2012- mind you, I live in NYC so traffic is denser.
        #4 Chrysler locked out parts of the PCM so you can’t use your own Predator tunes (yet) to change the computer’s settings for higher mileage or higher performance.

      • 0 avatar

        Chrysler’s biggest achievement is the Pentastar V6. With gas prices expected to rise soon, they definitely nailed it with the Pentastar which makes almost 300HP (more with some tuning).

        The SRt8′s will sell to those of us who don’t care about gas mileage, but, with police cracking down on speeders for 5mph above speed limit or more, the SRT8 makes no sense.

        I’m having a hard time choosing to replace my SRT8 with this one when I could get a 300S “BEATS”. I NEVER got a speeding ticket when I had a V6 300. My SRT8 keeps me in traffic court.

    • 0 avatar
      seanx37

      If there is a war with Iran, it won’t be $5.50 a gallon. $20-30 is much more likely if Iran can close down the Strights of Hormuz for any extended period.

      • 0 avatar

        Could Iran possibly close down the Straits of Hormuz for an extended period?

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        Only as long as it takes to get one of our carriers within the combat range of our F/A-18s equipped with anti-ship missiles.

      • 0 avatar

        If Iran attempts to close the strait, WE ARE GOING TO WAR.

        Thing is, I don’t believe Israel wants to bomb them because
        #1 The nuclear facilities are numerous and hidden deep underground. JTF called for immediate bombing of the Bushehr reactor, but, now, Iran has decentralized the research.

        #2 If Israel bombed them it would only exacerbate anti-Israeli tension in the region
        #3 Iran would still have the technology and knowhow to build a bomb, but, would be emboldened to do it after an Israeli strike.

        The way I see it, we’d actually be better off if Iran does get the bomb and announces that they have it. The one truth about anti-nuclear proliferation is that IT DOES NOT WORK. It’s science – all it takes is time and money. North Korea announced they had the bomb and we suddenly stopped the right winger drum beats of going to war with them and we suddenly find ourselves having to negotiate with them rather than simply bullying them.

        If Iran gets the bomb, there is no “Mutually Assured Destruction” policy with them. If they use it we will annihilate them. If they pass it off and someone else uses it, we will annihilate them.

        Iran doesn’t have the naval power to control the strait. All we’d have to do is blow their ships sky high and then move our under-used boats into the strait to close it up. What are they gonna do then? Resort to speed boats laden with explosives for suicide bombings? Very ineffective I’d say.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        I’m sure Iran could close down the straits for an extended period of time. They don’t have the Naval might to go against the U.S. but they really don’t need it.

        The straits are relatively shallow and narrow. Iranian anti ship missiles can hit shipping traffic from shore. Additionally many systems are mobile so they’re not easily targeted. Sunken supertankers would pose a definite risk to navigation.

        Additionally Iran has a few diesel submarines. They are no match in the open ocean against our attack boats but are very quiet when running on batteries and are lethal in littoral environments. I don’t know the boats present state of operational readiness but as a former Naval Aviator whose flown numerous anti-submarine warfare missions we received many intelligence briefings on their capabilities.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        Hubcap, you are right. And Iran has spent the last 30 years buying anti-ship missiles. It could be very ugly. It is all fun and games til a carrier gets sunk in shallow waters.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The new V6 Charger and 300 seem like good deals to me, I just can’t work up the same lust for the Hemi and SRT8 versions. Maybe because I’ve driven a few 300hp V6 large sedans and the engine and trans carried the car so effortlessly I can’t justify spending the extra money for the extra hp. Or maybe I’ve got nobody to impress…

    And yes to echo Nullo’s comments above at least give the option of warmly colored fake wood. I was in a new 3.6VVT powered Impala recently and the wood helped cheer up the interior. Plus the fake wood is much nicer than it was in my 80s GM products.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a new optional “Leather Interior Trim Group” that further upgrades the interior, but as far as I can tell it doesn’t include wood trim. You can get at least the fake stuff in other 300 variants, but not the SRT8.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Wasn’t there supposed to be a 300C Executive trim that came with real wood trim and upgraded leather? I can find blog posts about it, but I can’t seem to build on using Chrysler’s car configurator.

      • 0 avatar

        I recall the same, even sat in the car at NAIAS, but couldn’t find the package in Chrysler’s configurator earlier, either. I think this “Leather Interior Trim Package” has some of the same content, but likely not the wood.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        Yes, it was developed for the Lancia version sold overseas. I don’t think it’s gone on sale in the US yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        If you look at the list of standard equipment for a 300C, it states “real wood interior accents” pretty clearly.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      $11,000 for the C package or $20,000 for the SRT package is one thing. But the V8 Charger is only $3,500 over the lowest stripper SE 8 speed, which loses enough other content it’s no deal even if you wanted the V6. Apples to apples against an SXT, the difference is $1,000.

      For $1000 up front and 40 bucks a month on gas, I’d second guess myself on every ramp or pass for the duration of my ownership of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        jruhi4

        Just checked my 2012 Chrysler 300 brochure. What was formerly referred to as the Executive trim has become the 300 Luxury Series, and is the basis for Europe’s Lancia Thema. Alas, the brochure describes it as late/limited availability. And it’s a shame you can’t combine it with the SRT8…

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      @Educator:
      You would be surprised about that ‘fake’ wood. At least in all Ford vehicles, the wood is a lacquered veneer over a metal frame. I would bet that most other manufacturers do the same.

  • avatar

    Not only does the RSPEC Lack “identity”, but, it lacks everything that makes the SRT8′s awesome. They didn’t even give it an aggresive sounding exaust.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Why should a luxury sedan have an aggresive-sound to its exaust?

      And as far as “identity” is concerned this is a luxury sedan, its not meant to be unique.

      • 0 avatar

        The only point to a car with a 6.4L engine is for aggressive performance. The mere fact most people who buy a car like this do buy a replacement exhaust system to change the sound proves that an aggressive exhaust is an expectation of this type of car.

        I don’t consider this a “luxury sedan” in terms of materials or interior silence. I consider this a “luxury sedan” in that you’d have to be damn near rich to maintain and fuel it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Well if they want aggression why don’t they buy the Charger or Challenger? They’re the same thing but with more aggressive styling.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    $53K? Um, no thanks. Taaaaa-cky. I can think of a half-dozen other cars both new and used that would best this. A car this big should really have more room for both passengers and cargo. Chrysler really needs to bring back the Magnum wagon and give it some decent cargo space this time.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “Um, no thanks. Taaaaa-cky.”

      Taste is personal, but I like this car – it seems like a nice, modern take on the classic big engined American land yacht.

      As Michael mentions in his review, there’s plenty of wretched excess coming out of brands that were formerly known for tasteful good design. One of my neighbours has an X6, whenever I see the thing my reaction is “Um, no thanks. Taaaaa-cky…”

  • avatar
    tmport

    These kinds of cars just make me shake my head with wonder. $53,000 for this? Really? Unless you are rolling in money, why in the world would you drop over $50,000 for any car like this? Aside from excess horsepower that you are almost certainly never going to use, there is little objective difference between this car and many that cost half as much.

    • 0 avatar
      spinjack

      That’s why nobody should even consider buying a new one. You can pick up a 2 year old versus for a fraction of the cost. If you want an SRTx, buy used.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        “That’s why nobody should even consider buying a new one.”

        I think that’s true for all these large, powerful cars – same applies to an AMG Benz for example.

        Even though Chrysler quality is nothing to write home about, I expect that the SRT-8 mechanicals would hold up better than a used AMG Benz after a couple of years, and it would likely be a whole lot cheaper to fix, making it an even better deal used…

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Exactly. For $53k you are getting a car that doesn’t look much better than what can be had at the rental counter. I just don’t get it. However, this car would resonate with my 76 year old father. It seems that he and the gansta demographic have similar tastes in automobiles. Too bad he swore off Chrysler products after he was screwed over by a odometer disconnected pre-driven Lebaron back in the 80s.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When the first generation 300C showed up, one of the design elements magazines commented on was the faux-tortoise shell interior accents in place of plastic or real wood. I thought it sounded like a pretty neat idea, but I haven’t seen much about it since the production cars showed up. Did any of the production cars actually get it? Did nobody else share my enthusiasm?

    • 0 avatar
      Dragophire

      It did make it to production however I think that I have only seen the option in 2 cars that i have seen in person. I dont think it had alot of takers. In general it looked better than plastic and was different than wood but some may have thought that it just looked out of place.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Thanks. I’ve never seen a car equipped with it, but based on things like eye-glass frames that I’ve seen in the material it seemed like it had potential. I guess the execution could make a big difference in whether it looked good or not.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        I’ve seen a few. It was pretty cool, IMO, as it was clear it wasn’t trying to be anything other than tortoiseshell pattern plastic.

    • 0 avatar
      Wodehouse

      I remember test driving both a 2007 300 and Sebring that had the tortoise shell trim. I really liked that stuff.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    Great article. I am glad Chrysler is sticking to the game plan with the 300. If I am ever in the market for a car (as opposed to a pickup, which is likely what I will be buying next for towing reasons), the 300 would be at the top of my short shopping list.
    As a Canadian, I have wrestled with the question of what is ‘domestic’ versus ‘import’ for some time. Poor Chrysler: it has been bounced around like a foster child for the past 2 decades.
    In my view, three factors weigh heavily on determining what is ‘domestic’ versus ‘import.’ First and most obviously, follow the money. If it travels to Stuttgart, Tokyo, or Italy, then it is pretty hard to say the vehicle is not ‘imported.’ Not only will the profits most likely leave the country, but the strategically important patents, intellectual property and value added jobs are not likely to stay local either. Secondly, history: Toyota, Honda and the gang may try to pose as ‘American’ or ‘Canadian,’ but their history spans, what – three decades? Four? GM and Ford have been here since the beginning and Walter Chrysler was, too, albeit managing other people’s companies. Windsor and Oshawa, Ontario would likley not exist if not for the Big Three. Thirdly, whether or not the auto manufacturer in question’s home country ‘allows’ open and free markets. I may not approve of one’s buying a BMW or VW, but at least Europe has a long and stable history of ‘allowing’ American vehicles to be sold there. Korea and Japan? That’s a laugh. GM had to buy Daewoo just to get any presence in Korea. Other than a few high priced German imports, ‘import’ sales in Japan are virtually non-existent. We can argue until the cows come home WHY that is true, but nobody can argue the point that it isn’t true. Either it is merely a coincidence that nobody has ever bothered to try to sell vehicles in Japan and Korea, or perhaps there are other more insidious or subtle forces at work?
    So, for Americans, I would say that an Impala made in Oshawa is more ‘American’ than a Honda made in Ohio. For Canadians, our symbiotic relationship with the U.S. goes back as far as, well, 3-400 years? GM and Ford build more vehicles in Canada than they sell. Thanks largely to the old Auto Pact, Ontario is a manufacturing base to reckon with. McLaughlin Motors goes way back to the mid-19th Century, so the Canadian DNA in GM runs deep.
    Mexico is in a similar position. Forgetting for a moment that Mexico is likely one day to consider much of the western States as a Province, the Mexicans who actually live in Mexico buy quite a few Detroit vehicles, which in my view qualifies Mexican made engines, vehicles and parts as ‘American.’
    This is why, as a Canadian, I consider my Chevy to be ‘Canadian,’ but the Honda Civic to be ‘imported.’ Kia and Hyundai: forget it. They build nothing in Canada and every vehicle sold is $20,000 that was just set aflame, IMO. A cursory glance at Canada’s present Current Account deficit which has recently spiraled out of control, clearly reveals the culprit is largely profit taking and imports of manufactured ‘transportation goods and services’ from Korea.
    Sadly, this leaves Chrysler in limbo, IMO. On the one hand it is now technically foreign owned. On the other, Italy does buy quite a few Ford and GM products, so there is fair market at play there. I doubt Fiat has absconded with much in the way of profits yet, and with its current woes in Europe, Fiat may one day move its headquarters to Detroit, or Sao Paulo. Well, the 300 is built 5 miles from my office, so I guess that tips the scales, at least for a Canadian!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “First and most obviously, follow the money.”

      Not a bad idea. You should try doing it sometime.

      Here’s a hint: Most of the money spent goes to parts, then to labor. Therefore, if you follow the money, most of it goes to the point of assembly and to the suppliers, and suppliers tend to be located fairly close to the point of assembly. The location of the HQ doesn’t matter; the money paid to the workers at the plant and the suppliers’ plants ends up in the local and regional economy.

      As for profits (assuming that there are any), those aren’t stowed away in some mattress in Detroit or Stuttgart or Tokyo, but are reinvested into the business. So if you want to follow that money, then most of it leads to wherever plants are being built and expanded.

      If you buy a transplant, chances are pretty good that the profits will end up building new plants in the US and Canada, since they all seem intent on expanding here and gaining what they find to be the advantages of a North American facility.

      If you buy from GM, odds are good that you’ll end up paying to fund the construction of plants in China and South Korea, while if you buy from Ford, the odds are pretty good that more money is going to end up in Mexico. Chrysler may prove to be the exception to this, but of course, it is a sort of transplant itself. Oh, the irony…

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Wrong: most product platforms have well over 1 billion USD dumped into them every 4 years. That money is around 2/3 R&D and 1/3 Tooling/Launch. That development money is mostly based in the company’s home country.

        Then you have the product refreshes that cost anywhere from tens to hundred(s) of millions of dollars.

        Manufacturing sites are deemed profit centers. The do very easy tasks anyone in any nation can do. Generally speaking, it is cheaper to build where you sell.

        Auto suppliers design centers are mostly in the US (increasingly for other manufacturers besides the Big 3, but still no where close to your hated Co’s or LLC’s). The major design source for suppliers(this may surprise you) mostly resides in Michigan. Execution of design goes to the cheapest bidder. As for design division between an OEM and supplier, think of it this way: Macro (systems) = OEM. Micro (specifics) = Supplier. The core design most always comes from the OEM, but the supplier develops it unless of course it was a pre packaged solution sold to the OEM.

        The last sacred part of auto development (that hasn’t been 100% leveraged globally) is management. But design is very much a 1st world nation resource.

        Pch101, your bitterness is always fun to disprove. You harness the power of buzz words and know enough to sound like you know your subject matter when you’re far from it.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Side note: my friends who work for your favorite OEM, GM, host SAIC engineers and there is a strict barrier they are required to follow when sharing information. All Chinese arms of auto manufacturers are literally an extension of the Chinese government. Product IQ is literally screened before it is shared. China is just one very large contract manufacturer. And from my experience in other industries, it is the same for any company that sells or manufactures product in the PRC.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Wrong: most product platforms have well over 1 billion USD dumped into them every 4 years”

        Well, that sounds really exciting, until you realize that a company such as TMC had FY 2011 revenue of almost $230 billion. Billion, as in a “b”.

        R&D is perhaps 5% of a company’s expenditures. R&D is a relatively small part of their spending. The cars that we drive are made mostly of parts, not of research.

        “Generally speaking, it is cheaper to build where you sell”

        Well, that would certainly explain why GM and Ford want to offshore as much of their US-bound production as they possibly can. Or did you miss what is going on in places such as Hermosillo?

        “your bitterness is always fun to disprove”

        Tell me when that the disproving is supposed to start. So far, you’ve pretty much blown it.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        The only thing Mexican about Hermosillo is the line workers and plant management and the metal shell they all work under. It is a world class manufacturing site. Ford has many final assembly sites in North America. They have 10 other final assembly plants in Canada and the US (unfortunately it was 12 not long ago). So I’m not sure what your point is besides inflammatory, which you’re bad at. At least throw me a valid perspective.

        Toyota is a very valuable organization. I’m not sure what your observation has anything to do with, well… anything? Think of how many platforms auto manufacturers have. Then think of what I said in terms of reinvesting in the organization itself. Every company does it. Not just the car company’s you carry the flag of.

        The fact of the matter is: I was validating carbiz’s thoughts on intellectual property. Companies protect them. GM does it when they deal with China. Toyota and Honda do it when dealing with their North American operations. There is a reason Toyota and Honda’s upper management is Japanese. It’s a very protectionist culture (for good reason). Intellectual property is the core of the business.

        What you should take away from this is that all car companies are literally the same. Buy the product you like best, money really travels back to the share holder and upper management. Everyone on this site works for ‘the man,’ so it’s really pointless trying to point the finger to “the elusive money trail of ‘x’ automaker I hate because they ‘aint lean or they sell cars in China.” And I hate to say this, but Toyota’s volume from North American and Europe only accounted for 67% of their revenue. So that means that, *gasp*, they sold cars in China! Is that ironic? No, because China is a fantastic emerging market.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The only thing Mexican about Hermosillo is the line workers and plant management and the metal shell they all work under”

        I could have sworn that Hermosillo was located in Sonora, a state in Mexico. So if we follow the money, which is what Carbiz asked us to do, then the money goes to suppliers, many of which are in Mexico, and to labor in Mexico. That isn’t inflammatory, that’s just a fact.

        “I was validating carbiz’s thoughts on intellectual property.”

        And IP gets only a small fraction of the spending. Carbiz asked us to follow the money, and as it turns out, very little of it follows the trail of breadcrumbs that you laid out. So as usual, your points are bogus.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        So I guess 1/11th of Ford’s production is the majority of their money? Am I missing something here? Plants are profit centers. They are overhead in an accountant’s ledger. They aren’t ‘where the majority of a product’s money’ go to. It’s common sense.

        Think critically, here. You are picking on one of the automakers that has the most amount of North American based Final Assembly plants.

        Did you know that Toyota makes Tacoma’s in Mexico? This has no point, just like your insistence on typing ‘Hermosillo.’

        You points are cherry picked and dubious at best, with no backing of factual knowledge.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Did you know that Toyota makes Tacoma’s in Mexico?”

        I don’t recall anyone claiming otherwise.

        You don’t appear to understand Carbiz’s argument. He believes that we should follow the money.

        I’m following the money to places such as Hermosillo, Mexico, where Mexican laborers use parts (80% of which are not sourced in the US or Canada) to build what some would call a “domestic” car.

        Meanwhile, these same people want to label a Honda Accord that is built by workers in Ohio, with 80% of the parts coming from the US and Canada (yes, the exact opposite of a Fusion) as being an import. That doesn’t make much sense.

        Since you mentioned R&D, let’s look at GM for 2011:

        Total R&D spending: $8.1 billion
        Total revenue from automotive: $148.8 billion
        Total operating expenses from automotive: $142.5 billion.

        http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1467858/000146785812000014/gm201110k.htm

        Now do the math. For every dollar that consumers spend on GM products, about a nickel of it goes to R&D. And of course, not all of that R&D spending occurs in the US, so only a few pennies end up in the pockets of American workers.

        The IP arguments are bogus. Most of the money spent on cars does not go to R&D, as the figures above should make obvious. Most of the money spent on building vehicles is spent on parts and labor, not on development — a nickel is obviously not a large percentage of the total inflows. Most of the economic benefit to the country that comes from automaking is derived from the point of assembly. This should be rather obvious, so forgive me if I don’t bother to explain it again.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        While you’re breaking down the part content, correlate it to sales in the domiciled region and then break it down by manufacturer. Toyota won’t be as domestic as you are making them out to be. If your problem is with NAFTA, so be it. If your problem is with the OEM, OEM change suppliers every year. OEM’s do not dictate where their parts are built, the supplier does.
        “Most of the economic benefit to the country that comes from automaking is derived from the point of assembly.”
        And your argument with me about point of assembly is still semantics. How many US Toyota employees are there? How many ‘x’ auto company you hate employees? Who dictates that?

        I get your point about revenue. R&D is what drives the revenue. Revenue generation (manufacturing) is easy and can be moved around.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “If your problem is with NAFTA, so be it.”

        I don’t have a problem with NAFTA. I never claimed to have a problem with NAFTA.

        What I have a problem with is your fuzzy math. Carbiz asked us to follow the money. I followed the money. You don’t seem to like where it leads.

        I stated previously that very little money goes to R&D. Sure enough, I was right, and you were wrong. If you’d like to be corrected again, let me know.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Pch101: 1
        tresmonos: 0

        You caught me on my bias towards manufacturing and my dealings with standing capital. I tend to think more in line with capital versus the money that passes through via revenue. Shame on me.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Love this review Michael,

    I love how you asked the question of such things as the transmission: American even if it’s German and gave us your appropriate response and loved your conclusion.

    Overall: honestly American.

    One thing that I’m glad is that Chrysler and Ford and GM have let a little European sneak in by ditching the front bench seat and the column mounted automatic shifter for buckets and a console with floor shifter. Though I will agree some of those consoles are positively HUGE now.

    Sat in a Mazda 2 and a Mazda 3 yesterday while at the Mazda dealer and noted that the console in the 2 was this small plastic try like thing that dresses up the space between the 2 front buckets and provides some storage and cup holders but is low, as is the parking break, the shifter is up high, attached to the dash.

    The 3 had a full console that met up with the bottom of the center stack and it sits high, especially so compared to my 03 Protege5′s console.

    Ultimately though, the car is just too much car for me as I like ‘em smaller, more like a C segment or smaller size myself but DO agree, this car looks less gansta than before even if the windows still have that slit appearance, though not nearly as bad as before though.

    • 0 avatar

      The Chrysler 300 and Escalade defined “gangsta” because they came along when DUB MAGAZINE, gangsta rap and “krunk” productions were rising faster than apple’s stock.

      NOW – gangsta rap is damn near dead, SUV’s are avoided like the plague, DUB MAGAZINE is featuring…Hyundai’s with big rims…and the average drug dealer can’t get a lone for that Audi A7, BMW 5 and Mercedes CLS they want so dearly…

      Times have changed.

      I ask you: what cars can you point to now that are still “gangsta”?

      The rap videos have moved on to RR Ghost and Veyrons, but, just about NOBODY can afford them – not even the musicians.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Yaaaaaawn.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    “The Hyundai Genesis R-Spec has similar specs and a similar price…”

    This is the real competition for this car, as neither has any appeal to badge snobs – Chrysler hasn’t built a premium car in 40 years, and Hyundai never has.

    Nice review. I actually like this car, and I expect a low mileage used example would be a good buy in a couple of years…

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I want to like this car. I do think it is quite handsome. I drove a regular Hemi 300 a few weeks ago. It felt a bit cheap inside. The 8speed was a bit odd. Just too many gears. It usually shifted before I wanted it to. Of course, I am used to the CVT in my Altima V-6, which actually is a bit faster. I love the feeling of the big V-8. But I can’t imagine having to feed one. The SRT even more so. I think a twin turbo V-6 might be fun. Assuming Fiatsler survives long enough to develop such a thing.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Do they have the 8 Speed with the HEMI yet? Last I heard, it was on V6 models only, but this may have changed by now.

      I spent ~4 hours in a rental Altima last week, and while the 300 interior might look a bit cheap compared to a “real” premium car, I can’t imagine that it would feel cheap compared to an Altima.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think they’ve even formally announced when they will be offering the eight-speed with the V8. If he drove a HEMI, then the “too many gears” effect was actually the five-speed bumping about from gear to gear. I sometimes put the SRT8 in Sport just to settle the transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        If the 300 is EQUAL to the Altima, it’s behind the power curve, at least if they’re trying to pitch Chrysler as their equivalent to Lexus and Infinity in the quasi-luxury realm.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        The interior didn’t feel cheap compared to an Altima. It felt cheap for a $40000 car. And perhaps I was wrong about the 8 speed. The Chrysler employee who had the car said it was the 8 speed. I took him at his word. What does a bean counter know? But it is still slower than my Altima

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        One thing the Altima has going for it is a really tight body structure…how does the 300 feel in that regard?

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t recall the 300 feeling especially strong or weak in this area. The main thing I recall about the last Altima I drove, a coupe, is that the ride quality was awful–perhaps the worst of any car I’ve tested in the past few years–and it had very bad wheel hop on hard acceleration.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        Yes, my Altima has a lot of wheel hop when hitting it off the light.Too much power for front wheel drive really. The Chrysler felt big. And heavy. But solid. Much more so than the last generation. It was comfortable. A decent car that could be better.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    I would expect the Hemi to get the six-speed auto from the Hemi-equipped Grand Cherokee. I don’t think the 8-speed was designed to take the torque of the Hemi – especially not the 392 – and frankly I find any auto with more than 6 speeds to be unnecessarily busy, anyway. I sold Lexus for a few months in 2006, and the LS460′s 8-speed was more irritating than anything else.

    As for the 300 having no heritage, as others have said, you must think that Toyota invented the automobile when it introduced the first generation Camry. I’m actually surprised that Chrysler hasn’t fitted small “392″ badges to the SRT8, as some of the very best of the original 300 “letter series” had the original 392.

    • 0 avatar

      The six-speed in the JGC isn’t really a six-speed. Two of the ratios are almost identical, and it only uses all six of them sequentially in manual mode.

      ZF has an eight-speed that can handle the torque–you’ll find it in some equally torquey Audis and BMWs. The current 760Li has 550 pound-feet.

      I’ve personally had no problem with too much shifting in any of the eight speeds, and in my experience the Lexus unit is the smoothest. But you’ve had more seat time in them. I’ll pay close attention when I have the new GS.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    A review of a 470hp 470ft.lb. car with no quarter mile time?

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry about that. I don’t take the tested cars to the track, and this car is exceeds the legal limit well before the end of a quarter. With the all-season tires a time would be pointless, anyway. Acceleration was severely traction limited for the first couple of seconds. Even then the trip computer reported a best zero-to-sixty of 4.7 without much of an attempt to finesse the launch. This is a very quick car.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Throw some wood-trim on the dash, a column shifter, wheels that weren’t yanked from a VW Passat, and I’d take this!

    Normally I’d complain about Chrysler locking the CPU but what would a little bit of tuning even do to this?

    Compared to most other modern sedans I’d much rather have the 300C, even as a luxury car its good (at least on the outside).

    I’d much rather have a tasteful luxury sedan over BMWs bizarre offerings.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I really want to like this but just don’t. For the money there’s a slew of other cars I’d rather own. They don’t have the power of the SRT8 but that really doesn’t matter to me.

    Horsepower is an easy lure for enthusiasts and its easy for manufacturers to continually increase their numbers. But how much power can you really use in your normal day to day driving?

    I’d rather Chrysler make due with a little less power but improve the suspension, interior etc.

    I’d much rather have an Audi A6 or Jaguar XF. Down on power by 170/100 respectively and it doesn’t bother me one iota. Less gas stops is a good thing. More cash in my pocket is a better thing which translates to more flying at the local glider club.

  • avatar
    HRPinDC

    Michael, great writing, I have enjoyed everything I’ve read. I have a question for you. If you could buy any car in the $35k to $40k range, used or new. The car has to pull double duty as a daily commuter and family car, and be an enjoyable enthusiast impressing sports sedan on the weekends. Reliability should be above average at least, what would it be? Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I think it’s a whale. With a big butt. And this one’s ugly to boot. It does nothing to get MY motor running.

    Just my opinion of course!

    Saw the commercial, “Imported from Detroit” indeed. Hope that li’l country does well exporting their cars! (eyeroll)

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Good review Michael, but please don’t be a participant in the deceptive advertising of low-end audio equipment. The “900 watt” rating is obviously an ILS (If Lightning Strikes) rating, and should be condemned or ignored rather than reprinted as though it’s not a blatant misrepresentation.

    • 0 avatar

      The audio system in the SRT sounds great, but, the failure is the lack of a trunk mounted subwoofer. The 300s model has a 10″ woofer and allows the car to hit lower frequencies with ease. The last generation SRT comes with KICKER speakers and a subwoofer. Why the new SRT doesn’t have it is anyone’s guess.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope it’s not too low end–they are charging $1,995 for it!

      Is this figure any more of a misrepresentation than those on the HarmanKardon systems in BMWs, Mercedes, etc.?

    • 0 avatar
      csherbro

      rpn, sounds like you have not listened to the system or can you evaluate it by reading the description? Big Truck, the harman/kardon system in a 300 has 7 speakers in the rear shelf, one of which is a 10″ subwoofer. Where do you get your information? Michael, sounds like maybe you did not evaluate the system either?

      • 0 avatar

        I have owned the base model of the 1st gen, driven the 1st gen 300c and i OWN the 1st gen SRT8.

        I have driven. EVERY model of the 2nd generation and I’ve made videos testing ALL of the sound systems on my youtube page.

        THAT IS WHERE I GET MY INFO.

        I also happen to INSTALL custom systems as a hobby if it makes an difference.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I don’t know if this figure is more or less ridiculous than others because you’ll never find any real specifications on any of them. I’ve been around enough audio equipment to know that it’s ridiculous though. I’ve never heard this particular system and I’m not saying the system sounds bad or is unusually cheap as far as car audio goes – though I’ve yet to see a factory system that uses anything but the cheapest drivers (yes, that includes B&O; there’s nothing “sub” about that plastic-chassis 1/4″ excursion woofer) – but I will say that no seriously high-end audio company would disgrace themselves by using such vague and inflated numbers while hiding the true specifications.

        If they actually have an 80A fuse running to the audio system – the minimum standard size that would be physically possible for 900W – and at least 8 gauge wiring, then I’ll believe that the system is capable of at least consuming 900W at massive levels of distortion and I would be fine with that. But I’m thinking it’s more of the typical audio marketing situation where a system can put out, for example, a total of 75W of distortion at 50% amplifier efficiency spread amongst six channels so 900W total, as if that value makes any sense in the context of an amp capable of only 40W of clean audio power. Aftermarket head units, for example, are good for about 25W of somewhat clean power or about 50W of pure distortion. So it’s advertised as 50Wx4 since there are four channels and it could theoretically send all the power to only one channel. Slightly less scrupulous marketing people get a hold of that number and multiply the numbers to get 200W, eight times its actual audio output capability. The worst could probably call it 400W based on input power at 50% efficiency.

        The whole thing simply annoys me. I guess little things like that stand out on an excellent site like this whereas I just brush them off as marketing-speak when I see such things from other sources.

        As for the price tag, I suspect that both Chrysler and HK are making excellent margins on this item. Audio and nav seem to be ideal for that.

      • 0 avatar

        Rpn43

        Bottom line: the total watts they quote is most likely the sum of the total potential watts of each speaker.

        Large dedicated subs and tweeters make a stem sound fuller.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Yeah, I suppose that would be another way to get those inflated numbers! Since you’ve done some systems yourself, have you ever seen a factory stereo upgrade that you couldn’t easily outdo for less money yourself?

        When brand name audio equipment is used as a factory option, they seem to provide components of a level they would be ashamed to put their name on in the aftermarket. For example, when my buddy special-ordered his ’04 Dodge 3500 he didn’t pay the extra money for the factory Infinity stereo and he didn’t want the electronic-transfer-cased Laramie version, so he ended up with a base stereo. After adding $300 worth of Infinity Reference speakers on MDF templates, the thing sounded decent even with the factory head unit. An Alpine R10 sub and V12 amp from a previous vehicle finished it off well enough for a “don’t smash the window it’s just a base factory” stereo. Then he rolled it, and bought a used ’06 Laramie 2500 to replace it until he got around to fixing it. The factory Infinity stereo in that thing is horrible. The speakers look and sound like they were sourced from the Princess Auto surplus section for under $10. When he bought a 2WD ’05 Laramie 1500 for the body swap on the ’04, that owner had already swapped the Infinity system out for a $100 Sony head unit with $50 Sony speakers in the doors. Still a big upgrade over the factory Infinity system, even though my friends and I have installed many Infinity Reference speakers and subs in a number of vehicles with good results every time.

        The B&O subwoofer in my other buddy’s S4 is hilarious. The magnet is comparable to that of my home stereo speakers’ tweeters!

      • 0 avatar

        I was too busy listening to the engine to properly evaluate the audio system!

        At least that’s the best explanation I have for why I have no recollection of what it sounded like. I do think that if the sound quality was significantly better than others I would have noticed. The only two audio systems that have sounded especially good to me over the past year or two:

        1. B&O system in the A7 (which costs far more than the B&O system in the S4)

        2. Lexicon system in the Genesis

        I am much more impressed by the depth and clarity of the sound than power output.

      • 0 avatar

        Rpn453

        For just $700 I can put a box of dual KICKER L7′s with a 1000 watt amp in a trunk that will kick the isht out of it.

        These “premium” speaker systems sound full cause they push sound at you from several angles. Most of them don’t allow you to turn em high enough to distort them.

        The 300S’ BEATS system is plenty powerful, but Chrysler doesn’t let you get it in the SRT8.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Yeah, those Hemi V8s do sound great. My friend has a 2010 SRT-8 6-speed Challenger, so I’ve experienced it. I also didn’t pay any attention to his stereo. I think it’s a Kicker. It’s a shame they covered that engine in plastic. I seem to recall being very impressed by the naked beauty under the hood of that 2010. Unless he had already stripped it of the plastic. That wouldn’t surprise me.

        I can understand how a stereo can be overlooked during a review. It’s hard to get a feel for it without a good, long highway drive where you can really focus on the music and listen to multiple albums. It will often either get more pleasing or more grating over time. The former results in the volume creeping up, the latter in the volume creeping down or being shut off completely. This is a big factor in how much I enjoy driving a particular vehicle on the highway.

        Don’t get me wrong about the S4 stereo. Both the base stereo and B&O sound pretty good in that car. They can benefit from a sub upgrade, and they’d likely benefit from other upgrades too, but that could be said about almost anything.

        I don’t need a lot of volume. It’s been a while since I powered the main speakers with anything other than a head unit. I do like a sub that can hit the low notes though.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > only the instruments’ powder blue lighting (an interesting choice)
    > saves the cabin from having all the cheer of a coal bin.

    On the contrary, it is the worst detail by far. It is garish, tasteless, hurts readability of the gauges and is bad for night vision.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    The front end looks like one of those Faux-German body kits an idiot high school kid grafts onto the front end of his civic.

    The rear end looks like they gave up and just tweaked the dated styling of the old car.

    The rims look like something industrial from one of the RAM Trucks.

    There are still touches of chrome splooged around everywhere without any good reason or rationale.

    The interior is actually understated and not swathed in faux wood like I thought it would be.

    It’s ugly as hell and it has a huge engine… Chrysler is more Daimler now than ever.

  • avatar
    Brierfield

    Michael,

    I would love to see you do a review of the V6 version with the 8 speed transmission. IMO, this is the one that many potential buyers of the 300 will be interested in.

  • avatar

    There’s no ‘need’ for this car. I could never justify one. Having said that, I must admit there’s a part of me that wants this car, dreams of it. I love it, but I would never have it.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    To my eye there’s something amiss with the exterior and interior detailing that I can’t quite put my finger on. The headlight LEDs and grill look tacked-on aftermarket – almost someone purchased a 300, but really wanted an Audi instead……I want to like this car, but????

  • avatar
    Bushwack

    The bottom line is in 40 years, Chrysler’s dependability, quality and reliability haven’t changed. They wrap a smart looking car in an attractive package. But when the warranty expires, trim starts to peel, come loose, clear coast starts peeling away and resale value plunges 65% in three years.

    • 0 avatar
      Pinzgauer

      I wholeheartedly disagree. My family has had many Chrysler vehicles over the years, and I can say the year 2000+ models have been very good. My fathers 2003 Dakota V6 only needed a wiper motor replaced by the dealer in 110k miles and my 05 Neon only needed a oil pressure sender and one front wheel bearing in 120k miles.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    Good review. Goodyear Eagle RSAs are quite possibly some of the worse “do it all” tires. They really do nothing well except give poor wet traction and make lots of noise. Manufacturers must get tremendous discounts on them because they’ve been around for about a decade.

    I really like this car, but, can’t help feeling more attracted to a 1st generation CTS-V. A touch of rough around the edges and a manual transmission, for me, can make up for a boring, default black on black color scheme and gimmicky LED headlight trim…especially at 53K.

    • 0 avatar

      The more I see the 1st gen V, the more I prefer its exterior styling to the current V. The wheels totally complete the look.

      My main problem with that car: the shifter feels awful. But the aftermarket likely has a fix for this.

      The rear end is a known weak area, though I assume this is only a problem if the car is launched hard.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        I would imagine that this car has the same differential as the 392 challenger, which is an extremely beefy getrag unit that is a 4 pinion design with 8.9 inch ring gear.
        Even the rear ends in the 5.7 cars are pretty stout, the first thing to go on those cars is the axles shafts when you start nearing 11 second E.T’s. The aftermarket makes stouter shafts for those cars.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Oh sorry, it’s getting late. I didn’t notice that you were referring to the caddy.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I reread the Charger review and I don’t understand the comments about the instrument panel at all. I’ve ridden or driven in a current Charger several times and sat in one in the showroom a few times while waiting for my car (Challenger) to be serviced, and I’ve never thought, “Wow, the instrument panel is really big”. Seems fine to me. I’m 5’11 and see just fine out of it with the seat all the way down, just like I did in my last car, an ’08 Charger R/T. I actually like the looks of the 300 better than the Charger now, before it was a tossup on the exterior, with the Charger the winner inside (I hated the horn rimmed wheel and the weird font on the IP).

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    Whoa, how did Dodge Magnum get classified as a truck? Can they use same trick with other wagons?


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