By on August 13, 2012

Chrysler 300 Luxury Series - photo courtesy of CarsInDepth.com

The K-car saved Chrysler the company. The K-car almost destroyed Chrysler the brand. Lee Iaccoca and his team spun nearly endless and very profitable iterations of the K platform and components including the company’s market segment creating minivans. Starting with the LeBaron in 1983, followed by the stretched wheelbase E Class, the company also began using the K-car underpinnings for it’s premium brand, Chrysler. Eventually almost every vehicle in the Chrysler showroom was based on the K-car. In the 1950s and 1960s, before Chrysler’s almost terminal decline in the late 1970s, Chrysler was indeed the company’s premium brand.

Plymouth fought it out with Ford and Chevy, the other members of the “low priced three”, and Dodge took care of more middle class offerings. Those were Chrysler’s volume brands. Chryslers, on the other hand were bigger and more luxurious. They may have shared some engineering and components with the company’s more plebeian brands, but they had distinctive sheet metal and features and were marketed as luxury cars. Though the Chrysler K variants were not unattractive cars, and though they sold reasonably well there was no hiding their K-car heritage. For nearly a generation “Chrysler” meant a K-car with velour upholstery on the inside and fake wood on the outside.

Forget all those faux Chryslers with front wheel drive and K-car genes. The Chrysler 300 Luxury Series is a genuine Chrysler (though some of its DNA is imported from Stuttgart, courtesy of the ill-fated Daimler-Chrysler hookup). It’s a big, comfortable rear wheel drive car packed with almost every amenity one could ask for in a modern automobile. It has more than adequate power, the handling will never get you into trouble, it has some trick tech features that improve the driving experience, and in general it is far truer to the Chrysler brand than most of the cars sold under that label for the better part of the last three decades.

 

That's Canada across the river, where the 300 is really imported from. Of course, Canadian operations have been an important part of the Detroit automakers' business model for a century, but assembled in Ontario with a Mexican engine and a German transmission was too much of a snark softball to not take a swing at it.

Let’s start with the driving dynamics. This 300 was equipped with Chrysler’s most modern drivetrain, consisting of the 292 horsepower Pentastar V6 engine connected to Chrysler’s new 8-speed automatic transmission that ZF is supplying (the “imported from Detroit” 300 was assembled in Canada using an engine built in Mexico and a German transmission). The combination works very well together, with more than enough power and the right gear available for just about any real world driving situation.

The Chrysler 300 Luxury Series takes that later appellation seriously. This is a car that has been tuned and soundproofed to be very quiet and very smooth. It’s exceptionally quiet. Yes, the V6 will provide a satisfying howl when you get over 5,000 RPM, but otherwise the car is almost whisper quiet inside. At speed the HVAC system is noisier than what you’re hearing from outside the car. I can’t say that the Jaguar XJ Portfolio that I tested was appreciably quieter. The ride is very smooth though I think I would have preferred 19″ wheels to the supplied twenties. The chassis is already tuned for comfort, not for handling, and I think 19s would have made the ride smoother yet without making the cornering worse. That doesn’t mean it’s a ponderous hulk that’s hard to steer.

The suspension is well-controlled, if not Euro sports sedan firm. Though the car understeers unless you’re really trying to get the back end moving, turn in is quick, steering is precise, and the car will go where you steer it if you need more lock. There’s not a huge amount of steering feedback, this is not a Lotus Elan, nor even a Mazda3, the current standard for good steering feel, but it’s also a far cry from the palm the wheel overpowered steering by remote control of Chrysler’s big sedans of yore. With fully independent suspension, the chassis is hard to upset and I found myself seeking out bad pavement to see how well the harshness was muted. There’s a section of concrete near the Northland shopping center that wasn’t leveled properly when it was poured. At the left edge of one of the lanes is about a quarter mile of oscillations that are so bad that in some cars you might think that something’s mechanically broken. The 300 did an admirable job coping with those oscillations. Even irregularly washboarded asphalt didn’t upset the 300′s equanimity much. Brakes are very good. The few times that I wanted or had to slow down quickly were done without fuss. They are easily modulated though sometimes the brakes felt a little grabby just before coming to a complete stop. The Rolls-Royce chauffeurs’ school method of reducing pedal pressure “six inches before you stop” came in handy.

In general, though, the car was very smooth and well composed. It’s a very easy car to live with.

Electronics worked fine. The 8.4 inch touchscreen with Chrysler’s UConnect worked very well, and I didn’t have to RTFM beyond checking how to pair my phone. Remote audio controls are mounted on the back of the steering wheel, near the paddle shifters and work fairly intuitively. The system easily accessed the music on my Android phone and phone integration worked fine with one exception when it wanted to redirect the audio on a phone call back to the phone resulting in no phone audio on that call at all. It’s possible that the one glitch was caused by the phone, not the car. Speaking of electronic glitches, one time when I turned the car on, the HVAC system started blowing hot air and setting it to AC or ACC didn’t seem to do anything. Shutting off the car and restarting made the problem go away. The smart key worked nicely. They’re convenient but I’ll be happy when the fobs are more miniaturized.

The audio system, a premium Alpine branded unit, sounded great, though I was surprised that it didn’t play louder than it did. There are enough regular knobs and switches for regularly used functions to not be inconvenienced by the touchscreen. There is a power sunscreen for the back window that is only accessible via the touchscreen, as are the controls for the heated seats and steering wheel, but if someone tosses you the keys, you won’t have to keep accessing the infotainment system just to drive the car. I suppose that if Fiat-Chrysler could save money on the base Fiat 500 by deleting keyed locks on the little car’s passenger door and hatchback, figuring folks wouldn’t notice because of the “free” power locks, most Chrysler 300 buyers also won’t notice that the power sunscreen doesn’t have a dedicated switch. The heated and cooled cupholders in the console, by the way, do have dedicated switches, one for each cupholder.

The other day Steve Lang asked “what is a ‘loaded’ car these days?“. By any reasonable measure, this 300 was loaded, stickering out at $44,855. It had the Safety Tec package ($2,420), the Luxury Group ($3,250), the 300 Luxury Series group ($3,500), a dual pane panoramic sunroof ($1,495) and UConnect ($795). Leather with detail stitching is appliqued to hard surfaces all over the interior, covering the entire dashboard and most of the other points that you’d touch. A lot of what isn’t leather is covered in real wood, including a nifty slatted roll-top cover for the heated and cooled cupholders. I work with leather in my day job and I’d say that the equivalent of at least one cow gave it’s skin for this car.

The seats have perforated leather seating surfaces and are heated, front and back, with the front seats also getting ventilation. One nice touch is that in addition to 8 way power seats, the pedal cluster can also be power adjusted. Since I have long arms and short legs, that’s a nice feature. The vinyl used on the seat backs and sides is of good quality. There is some hard plastic used on the door panels, and though it’s obviously hard plastic, it’s a decent color and grain match to the leather.

Everything worked, there were no rattles. Other than the mentioned glitches, the only glaring quality control issue on a car with 2,940 miles reading on the odometer was a piece of wood trim above the glove box whose double sided tape was failing so the trim was hanging a bit loosely. Glaring because the rest of the interior fit and finish was very good.

I’m a bit of a multi-speed skeptic. When I bought my first nice bicycle, it had an 8-speed rear hub. Over the years Shimano and Campagnolo have gone to nine, then ten, and now eleven cogs on the back wheel, even though most cyclists do most of their riding in just a handful of gear ratios. My first car had a two-speed Powerglide and I wondered if you really need more than six speeds in a transmission. I was a skeptic, now I’m a believer.

I had concerns that the ZF box would, as a Car and Driver reviewer said about the late, unlamented Chrysler 604 gearbox, hunt like a Jack Russel terrier. That wasn’t the case. It is the smoothest shifting transmission I’ve ever experienced. In sedate driving you almost have to watch the tach to tell that it’s made an upshift. Like with many modern cars I’m not thrilled with how the throttle is mapped for slow response just off of idle, nor do I like transmissions programmed for fuel mileage so they try to start in as high a gear as possible, but other than that initial hesitation I find with a lot today’s slushbox cars, the drivetrain is silky smooth. I may lose car guy cred here, but by the end of the week that I had with the 300, I stopped feeling the need to play with the lovely magnesium paddle shifters (placed right in the airstream from the HVAC vents so you know from touch that they’re real metal), and pretty much let the ZF shift for itself. I’d wager that the folks at ZF know more about shifting than I do. Other than forcing downshifts, the paddles didn’t get used much. Shifting up and down manually through eight gears seemed out of character with the car.

Speaking of shifting, the shift lever on the console works electronically and does not use the conventional PRNDL sequence. PRNDL was made a standard before I got my driver’s license so it took a little effort getting used to it, but it becomes second nature, though I have questions about how to rock the car between forward and reverse without damaging the transmission in the event of snow. As modern as the transmission is, there was one behavior that reminded me of a vintage three speed automatic with a properly working kickdown control. With only three speeds, there was a lot of spacing between the ratios, so when you wanted to go, you put your foot into it and the transmission would downshift into what today we’d consider a much lower gear, just as the carburetor secondaries were starting to dump more fuel into the engine. Assuming you were driving a big American land yacht with a V8, your head would snap back as you accelerated. Big fun on the highway. With the ZF and the Pentastar, putting your foot deep into it at highway speeds will downshift the gearbox by two or more ratios and the car just goes.

The fun may be retro but there is a modern benefit to all those gear rations: improved fuel economy. This car is EPA rated at 19/31 which sounds just about right from my experience. Over a bit more than 300 miles, I  got an indicated average of 23.6 MPG in mostly urban and suburban driving. That figure is even more impressive that it sounds because it included about 20 minutes of idling at 0 MPG while my elderly mom kept cool in the car as I waited, in vain, for a fax from an embroidery customer to arrive at an Office Depot. From the instantaneous readings on the freeway, my guess is that if you keep it at the speed limit, you should get close to that 31 mpg on the highway. Actually, you can use the paddle shifters to hypermile if you want to, putting it into a higher gear when the computer thinks a lower gear is more appropriate. It’s impressive to watch the revs drop to about 1,100 without the engine bogging down and lugging, particularly because 260 lb-ft of torque doesn’t sound like a huge amount of grunt, but most of that torque is available over a wide RPM band. In any case, the ECU and transmission controls won’t let you really lug the engine – with so many ratios to choose from, there’s going to be a lower gear available if you need it.

Aesthetically it’s a handsome car. This 300 came in “Luxury Brown Pearl” on the outside and “dark frost beige” and “light frost beige” on the inside. Derek wasn’t joking when he said that they make press fleet cars in brown. The chase car from the fleet management company that dropped off the Chrysler was a similarly colored E Class Benz. The photographs don’t really do the paint justice as there is a considerable amount of pearl flake in the finish.

The Luxury Series option package includes “platinum” chrome trim on the outside, and it looks rather tasteful, a subtle departure from shiny chrome. That goes together with most of the “bright” work inside that also has a matte finish. One exception is the shiny chrome ring that separates the light and dark beige leathers on the hand stitched steering wheel cover. Chrysler might want to consider going to a brushed finish because in bright sun that ring gets very hot to the touch. Concerning that touch, it revealed another small flaw. The ring is seated in a groove, but as your hand moves around the wheel you can feel high and low spots on the chrome ring. It’s not seating perfectly uniformly around the wheel. It’s not enough to be visually obvious, maybe a millimeter or two at most, but you can feel it. Other than that minor issue, the steering wheel looks and feels great. The two-tone leather is an attractive take on the traditional sewn leather steering wheel cover.

The exterior styling is an evolution of the original 2005 RWD 300, which was based on Osamu Shikado’s 1998 Chronos concept, itself based, according to Shikado, on the Exner/Ghia Chrysler concepts of the 1950s. Visibility is good, at least forward and to the sides. Out the back you see the rear window and nothing else, it’s as though the back decklid doesn’t exist, which is surprising when you consider the high belt line and high rear deck.

Blind spots could be worse but when you factor in the tunnel vision out the back window, you’ll come to appreciate the blind spot warning markers lighting up in the side mirrors. When you park, be careful of those mirrors because they must not be cheap. In addition to the blind spot warning light, a LED courtesy light shines through the surface of the mirror onto the door and pavement when the car unlocks, and built into the outside shell of the mirrors are additional LED turn indicators.

Even if you can’t see it from the driver’s seat, the trunk really is back there. It seems large, though I never really put it to serious use. Two sets of gold clubs for sure, maybe enough room for the whole foursome. The rear seat back folds down in a 60/40 split if you need to carry something long. If you buy a 300, I’d consider the Safety Tec package. That gives you, among other features, a backup camera and a park assist system that fortunately is also sensitive to cross traffic when backing up. I’m not a huge fan of backup cameras but this one works well and the side viewing radar (or IR, however it works)) mitigates visibility issues out the back window.

All four doors open widely, for easy access. Actually, some might think the front doors open too widely, since you’d have to have a simian wingspan to be able to reach a fully opened door to pull it closed. I had plenty of room, front or back seat, but then I’m only 5’6″. Ergonomics is good. All controls can be easily reached from the driver’s normal position. The seats were comfortable though I would have preferred more bolstering. Drivers with large and wide feet might not like the location of the gas pedal, which is cheek by jowl with the transmission tunnel.

All the toys and nannies worked well. The blind spot warning was less obtrusive than others I’ve experienced, though if someone listens to the Forward Collision Warning system every time, they’re going to get rear ended after unnecessarily applying the brakes. I think stability control only kicked in once, when aggressively cornering, and even with it off you have to work a bit to drift. The tires could be grippier, they’ll chirp a bit when you drive enthusiastically, but again that’s not exactly what this car is for.

With all the option boxes checked, there is no shortage of automatic this and automatic that. One automatic feature that I didn’t like is the automatic bright headlights. I’m old school, it’s called a dimmer switch for a reason, that being there is a normal position and then the dimmed position. At night if there’s nobody else on the road, I like to use the maximum candlepower available to me. If you have the headlights set to auto, you lose control of the bright lights and they only turn on when the car decides that ambient light is low enough to warrant brighter headlamps. If you want to drive with your brights on steadily, you’re going to have to put the adaptive bi-xenon HID units in manual mode.

In conclusion, the Chrysler 300 Luxury Series seems to be a very well fettled car. There’s a harmony and balance that makes it a very pleasurable car to drive. It isn’t a canyon carver, but then that’s not what it was designed to do. It was designed to waft you in quiet comfort, with all the automotive amenities at your fingertips. I’m at a point in my life where there nothing wrong with a little comfort. Cruising down Eight Mile on a beautiful summer night, the Tigers on the radio, Justin Verlander striking out the side against the Yankees, panoramic moonroof letting in the fresh air, I found myself thinking, “I could be very happy with this as a daily driver.”

I also found myself thinking, “Who is going to spend $45K on a Chrysler 300?”. Forty five thousand dollars will buy you a number of fine automobiles. At that price you can start considering a Cadillac CTS or a BMW 3 Series among other brands that might have more cachet and luxury cred than Chrysler these days. The Infiniti G37 comes to mind, as do some Audis. Forty five grand gives you a lot of choices. Still, comparably equipped, the Caddy, BMW or those other cars are likely to be a few thousand dollars more than the 300 Luxury Series. Once you’re over $40K that difference might seem worth it – at least before you drive the 300. Drive the 300 equipped as I tested it and you just might decide that it’s luxurious enough.

Disclaimer and credits: Chrysler provided the car for seven days, insurance and a tank of gas. Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth. The Chrysler Special was photographed at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, MI. The Chronos concept was photographed at the Concours of America at St. John’s. It was on display in conjunction with retired Chrysler styling chief Tom Gale’s induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading– RJS

 

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143 Comments on “Review: 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury Series...”


  • avatar
    cyberc9000

    If I wanted to buy a 1998 Mercedes, I’d buy a 1998 Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      How is it a 1998 Mercedes?

      • 0 avatar
        vent-L-8

        The 300 and the Dodge Charger are essentially Mercedes E-class from the late 90s (about 2 models ago). This platform seems to be the one good thing to come out of the Diamler/Chrysler “merger of equals.”

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        Even if it was (which it isn’t, as shelvis says below) it’s still a stupid argument. ‘cos you know what else is based on the late-90′s E-Class?

        *THE CURRENT E-CLASS!* Man, what a piece of junk the E350 must be, being based on a Mercedes E-Class from the late-90′s and all.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        There’s a AWD for 2013, but how do you think the RWD would cope with snow-belt snow, with decent enough tires?

        What’s the prognosis on reliability of major components like that ZF transmission, the pentastar V6, etc?

        Good review.

        This may be the new Cadillac for those wanting peace, quiet and a plush ride, with interior room galore.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @DeadWeigh

        Any modern car can handle snow without awd, sure fwd has an advantage but with a well calibrated TC/ASR/ESP you should have no problem provided that; 1 you actually know that any car will behave different on snow and ice and therefore make sure that all inputs are smooth, 2 that you buy proper winter tiers that you only use in winter, 3 that you buy skinny tiers. Nothing is as stupid as 255*45*19 on snow, you want the skinniest you can fit on the car.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @MeaCulpa:

        Yes, yes and yes.

        I’m tired of doing the tire swap from summer to winter tires, though, so would want to know how the RWD 300 handles snow with decent all seasons (maybe with a bias towards snow traction) that can be left on year round.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @DeadWeight

        I fear the all season tier more then death itself, horrible on snow and ice and awful in summer. Generally speaking AWD helps you marginally with steering, a lot with traction when you’re accelerating and not one bit with the most important thing; breaking.
        The proper ways is always to swap wheels (rims and tiers, wide rims in summer and skinny rims in winter, preferably wheels that are easy to clean in winter and stock rims in summer) so when winter is approaching you just slap on the winter set and you’re ready to go.
        So – and I’m sure I’ll come of a bit preachy now – why the hatred for all season tiers? Basically because a tier that are any use at all on snow and ice has to be soft to provide traction, an “all season” tier will be to hard for snow and ice. On the flip side it will be softer than needed in summer and will deteriorate the handling of the car and elongate the braking distance while wearing faster than the proper summer tier. Then there’s the issue of tread pattern, a tier designed to provide grip on snow and ice while removing/gripping snow slush is vastly different from a tread designed to grip a nice hot asphalt surface or wet road. So the desired properties are not able to be combined in one tier with the technology that is available today or in the foreseeable future.
        And even if the proprieties could be combined it would still be an awful idea. On snow and ice you want the ground pressure to be as high as possible to provide braking, steering and acceleration, the same goals are achieved in basically the opposite way in summer, that’s why you’ll see the wrc guys running on 255 wide semi-slicks on the tarmac stages in summer and on 155 studded in winter.

        But i get why somebody would think that changing tiers would be a hassle twice a year if that’s all you do, if you change complete wheels twice a year I’m having a hard time viewing it as a hassle. One could argue that it seems expensive to have two sets of wheels, that seems like a bit of a moot point when dealing with a 40+k car, and, the only added cost is the purchase of four rims as the wear is now spread over two sets making the tiers last – especially when factoring in the life span of tiers used incorrectly – considerably longer. To finish of the cost argument I might ad that the smaller rim (with correct offset) for the winter tiers are considerably cheaper then the monstrosities fitted to current cars.

        Please take this rant for what it is, one TTACer wanting another TTACer to stay safe in winter. AWD is never ever a substitute for proper tiers, whatever time a year.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Meaculpa:

          I’m late with this reply, but thanks.

          I think you’re more correct than not. All seasons (even the relative best) don’t do any one thing particularly well, and do the things they do best fair, at most.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Spoken obviously by one who has never lived anywhere near my part of the mountain West. The seasons are not that distinct nor predictable. Snow in late May, 80F temperatures in November and summers with hardly a drop of rain. Seasonal tire changes just dont work here.

        Without AWD, winter tires are somewhat a moot point anyway, with Caltrans requirement for chains if there is even a dusting of snow.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @nikita

        No of course, you totally get snow all the time in June through September, and of course I know nothing about mountains or snow living in Sweden with its totally straight forward weather and absolutely no mountains at all. Yes, that’s probably it.

      • 0 avatar
        ZekeToronto

        LOL @ MeaCulpa … somehow we manage to make seasonal wheel swaps work with our incredibly predictable–albeit tropical–weather here in Canada too ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      dutch45810

      Quite a glib comment. Sure, there’s some shared technology and components left over from the “partnership” but this car seems to have an identity & character quite its own.

    • 0 avatar
      shelvis

      Incorrect. Most of the LX platform engineering was done before Daimler took over. The only Mercedes parts are the 5 speed tranny, rear axle, some seat parts, and I believe some steering column components, all added by Daimler to benefit economies of scale. Another Daimler “feature” is the heavy, numb feeling that the first generation cars had which seems to have been revised by new Chrysler.
      Chrysler themselves perpetuated this myth in the Dr Z days but the engineers that worked on the cars will tell a different story.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Are those engineers British? I used to see one on Autosport that claimed the new Mini was really done without input from BMW, ignoring that the rear suspension was BMW Z-link, just like a Z1 or E36. Both the front and rear suspension of the LX were Mercedes. Throw in the steering, transmission, differential, and electronic stability control, and you pretty much have the important mechanical components other than the engine and brakes. Too bad they didn’t use Mercedes brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        I’d suspect very little is shared with Daimler on this new LX….with the glaring exception of the WA580 (although built by Chrysler).

        And CJ:

        Front suspension on the LX’s were not shared with MB, rear suspension and some other components yes they did…which honestly was never for the better.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        The suspension stuff that was Mercedes was heavily modified by Chrysler and then re-modified by Daimler again. There’s conflicting info on the front suspension. Some say it’s S Class others say it’s reworked LH. The rear suspension is definitely Mercedes but that owes a lot to the fact that Chrysler had nothing in the parts bin at the time that was suitable for RWD.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Shelvis, you are correct. While the LX cars do share the rear axle and rear suspension setup with the mercedes, the front suspension setup is a pure Chrysler design, they recycled the setup used on the cloud cars in the 90′s.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.lxforums.com/board/f74/can-we-put-myth-bed-192045/index2.html

        I’m glad you guys are so certain, but here is a link to a thread with photographic comparisons and schematics showing that the LX front suspension was cribbed from the W220 Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s even less true than saying that Fusion was a Mazda 6 or that Ford Flex is actually a Volvo C90. Just a few wishbone shapes and maybe a driveshaft.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    A great read; Chrysler’s clearly working hard to undo all the damage done by Daimler.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      When commenting on a review of a 300 doesn’t that comment seem a bit strange? The underpinning of this car is essentially benz parts. If the interior isn’t a big bundle of crap (like the earlier iterations of the 300) it will be a mayor step in the right direction, but somehow I doubt that the poor chrysler interior was something forced on them by the germans.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        You don’t see how forced cost-reductions can impact things like interior quality? Like when Wolfgang Bernhard waltzes in and orders a 45% cost reduction in Chrysler interiors?

        http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2009-04-29/chryslers-chapter-11-raises-management-questions-for-future

        “Then there is the oft mentioned Wolfgang Bernhard, former COO of Chrysler and the guy who ordered the 45% cost cuts in Chrysler’s interiors that helped get every model knocked off Consumer Reports’ recommended list.”

        I never cease to be amazed at the number of people willing to believe that Daimler had nothing to do with Chrysler’s downfall.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @jz78817
        I know that the benz boys screwed chrysler in some ways, but I think that it’s stupid to blame – as some seems to do – everything that was bad on the Germans. Chrysler did manage to build some truly ugly and bad cars without the “help” of the fatherland (I would argue that the styling of this car is one of those truly ugly cars). But you’re right the Germans are partially responsible for the crappy interiors in the 300 as they are are responsible for some of the good parts.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …….somehow I doubt that the poor chrysler interior was something forced on them by the germans……

        The Germans may not have said “Make the interior junk”, but they certainly made Chrysler pull big dollars out of all of their products and that penny pinching was most obvious in the interior. Today, that is exactly what VW is doing to their products; the Jetta is a classic example. Yes, it sells cars initially, but about your reputation. VW may have had issues, but generally speaking they were known for better than average interiors…not anymore….

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @golden2husky

        Living in Europe I haven’t notice any deterioration of Jetta interiors. ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        Diamler did lots of things not in the best interest of Chrysler back in the day. http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/pdf/2002-1-0071.pdf
        One issue i heard of many times reading forum posts from ex pentastar employees was that Daimler wanted to use Chrysler’s volume to cut their pricing, this meant using common parts like the 5 speed auto by creating the LX and loading 100k units a year with the tranny Daimler cut their per unit cost by as much as 30-60% depending on who you belive, for a major component this is also why they used common steering columns and suspension bits. In order to then keep the penta star pricing inline with the market with their new more expensive components Daimler had them cut costs elsewhere, read craptastic interiors. So yes Benz screwed the pooch.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Excellent article, Ronnie. Very thorough. And no doubt the 300 will appeal to many.
    But if I were to spend $45K on a car, a BMW 535i starts to come into the view of my mind’s eye….

    ————

    • 0 avatar
      Brantta

      Similarly equipped 535i is about $65K. (rear-view camera, blind spot assist, park assist, keyless access, navigation, active cruise, heated seats, auto high beams,..)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But this is the fundamental question. Would you rather have the “loaded” version of a plebian car, or the basic version of a “premium” car. I don’t think there can be ANY question that the engineering fundamentals of a 5-series are better than those of the Chrysler – how much do you care about toys? Personally, I would take my relatively prison cell spec 3-series over a loaded Chrysler 300 for the same price. I’ll take premium engineering over tinsel every day and twice on Sundays.

        Not that the current Chrysler 300 is a bad car, I have had one as a rental and Chrysler really has come a long, long way with them. My Hertz chariot du jour is a Chrysler 200 convertible, and while a fundamentally silly car it isn’t 1/2 bad as a cruiser here in Dallas. That V6 is a gem even with only 6spds forward and 283hp, the full-fat version with the 8spd must be a delight. I will say, this thing has AMAZING air-con – good enough to drive top down after dark in 100F+ temps comfortably with the windows up.

      • 0 avatar
        Gannet

        “I don’t think there can be ANY question that the engineering fundamentals of a 5-series are better than those of the Chrysler…”

        I think there can be a LOT of question that the engineering fundamentals of a 5-series are better than those of the Chrysler. If BMWs were so well-engineered, their value wouldn’t plummet out of warranty, and you wouldn’t hear constant comments of “I would never own a (fill in German car brand here) out of warranty” – and this from current and happy owners of said brands.

        Example: I was just considering a 2002 M5 that a local high-line used car dealer has. Beautiful condition, cheap ($16k), 130k miles. So I go to the BMW forums to study up. Turns out these cars are well known for failing *main bearings* at this mileage or less. Online tutorials on how to DIY change the bearings without pulling the engine (difficult, but possible, apparently). Excuse me, but no company that sold a high-end car in this century that fails main bearings at 100k miles has any claim to superior “engineering fundamentals”.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        “Similarly equipped 535i is about $65K. (rear-view camera, blind spot assist, park assist, keyless access, navigation, active cruise, heated seats, auto high beams,..)”

        Oh great; I’d get a whole bunch of things that I’d rather my car not even have! :P

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Gannet

        If you want to see depreciation, I suggest that you buy a $45K Chrysler 300 and then trade it in after 2 years. You will get about $1 more for it than you would have for the $20K cheaper base model. ALL expensive cars depreciate like they were tossed off a cliff, nature of the beast. Even the vaunted Lexus LS does no better than an equivalenty priced BMW or Mercedes in depreciation, and listening to most around here one would think that rolling couch was the second coming.

        M5s are hardly a fair comparison – an engine that is tuned to within an inch of its life from the factory, and HUGE numbers of them see time on racetracks. And yes, BMW has a completely idiotic marketing-driven maintenance regime that has done them no favors at all. I have *zero* fears about owning my car out of warranty. It is cheaper to fix them than to buy a new one.

        But my comparison is still valid – would you rather have a basic car with $40K worth of engineering and relatively little in the way of tinsel, or would you rather have a car with $20K worth of engineering and $20K worth of tinsel ladled on top? I would take the basic version of the premium car every time. As I have said about my 3-series, if you want to see where the money went, put it up on a lift, walk under, and look up. They should display them in the showrooms upside-down.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @krhodes1

        Except the “can I buy a loaded car for this much or an entry level car for this much” argument ALWAYS falls on it’s face.

        He mentioned a 535i. The car in this review is loaded for $45k. The 535i starts at $54k.

        That’s a 20% higher price for less stuff.

        If you have 5 Series money, you’re going to spend $70,000. You aren’t going to consider a 300. Whereas if you have, say, Lexus ES350 money, and decide “hey, I can get a larger vehicle with more stuff for the same price,” or perhaps you just really like the 300, THAT is who is going to buy this car.

        Can you buy a CTS for $45k? Yeah, but it isn’t going to be anywhere near as nice of a car as this thing is – you’re talking about engines that will go toe-to-toe with one another, but the 300 clearly has the advantage in the transmission and for the price the feature set.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        not everybody wants a BMW, chief.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        krhodes1 – “But my comparison is still valid – would you rather have a basic car with $40K worth of engineering and relatively little in the way of tinsel, or would you rather have a car with $20K worth of engineering and $20K worth of tinsel ladled on top?”

        Well there is a market for either one.
        If you want $40k worth of engineering, buy a Prius at $25k.
        If you want $20k worth of engineering and $20k worth of tinsel (i.e. the badge), buy a BMW 3 at $40k.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It would be very difficult to actually spend $45K on one of these. There’s already 3K on the hood and the 2013s aren’t even here yet. I would expect to come in at least 6K under sticker buying today.

      Last year the leftover loaded 2011s were going for 10-12K under sticker as soon as the 2012s showed up.

      You can drive a 5 series for 33K but it’ll be three years old with turbos nowhere in sight.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You can get a Limited, though, which is decently equipped with leather, which has an MSRP of 34k, for about 27k plus TTL (or about 1k to 1.4k less plus TTL is you’re on the ‘family or supplier’ plan).

        These are churned out at a relatively quick pace and in large volume, and from an operational standpoint, Chrysler will not likely slow the line at Bramton, Ontario.

      • 0 avatar
        velvet fog

        My dad bought one just like the tester, except color, about 9 months ago and paid something like $800 over invoice through Costco’s program. It was about 40k if I remember right.

        I’ve driven MBs for the last 10 years, CLK, E and now drive an SL. I was impressed with the styling, feature content, and feel of the 300, to the point that the SL felt a little plain and lacking features after driving dad’s car.

        If this is the new Chrysler, then I think they are on the right path.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        velvet fog, or maybe MB has not been delivering enough value.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Keep in mind, even if you don’t have access to the mythical 25% off Deadweight mentions, Chrysler routine has $2,000 on the hood of the 300.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        $3000 on the hood for the Luxury series, or 0% for 60 months.
        Plus $2500 cash.
        Plus $1000 loyalty cash, or $500 conquest cash.
        Plus $500 military cash.

        $6000 below “cost” doesn’t seem hard to imagine here.

        http://www.edmunds.com/chrysler/300/2012/car-incentives.html?style=101422235&irr_section=customer_rebates_irr

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        tuffjuff, are you saying it was all a fantasy when I was getting written buy orders for both a Jeep GC X Package and Chrysler 300 Limited in January from a saleperson (signed by a sales manager), prior to buying a Cadillac SRX, instead (on behalf of a female family member who detests negotiating auto prices)?

        I’d better not have those dreams anymore or I’ll delude myself into thinking everyone isn’t an apparent sucker that pays anything close to what you apparently do when you car shop.

        p.s – The Jeep was $7,700 off, IIRC correctly, but I don’t have the faxed buy order, complete with VIN #, options, and MSRP, that was signed by the sales manager in front of me.

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    45 large eh. Might be worth it. That Chronos concept reminds me of the Batmobile from Arkham Asylum

  • avatar
    Monty

    Thanks, Ronnie, for another stellar and thorough review.

    I’m in awe of what Chrysler’s engineering department accomplished on such a limited budget during the bleakest time in the company’s history. It seems as though this vehicle is an order of magnitude better than Mopars from just a decade ago.

    I was sceptical that the styling department would be able to update the 300 – it was, and still is, a very iconic rendering. The styling has been given evolutionary treatment and it wears it well.

    Were we in the market for a large RWD sedan for comfort cruising on the Interstate, this would merit serious consideration. It’s a handsome, well-rounded car near the top of the class. The newest iteration of the 300 should continue to find sales, and more importantly, some conquest sales.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    The Chrysler Chronos in the photos is a lovely looking car. If only Jag could make a coupe XF in a similar style…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Very nice review. 45K large for a Chrysler – that’s the problem. I’d buy a Cadillac for that money, because I simply don’t trust Chrysler, yet – and that’s after owning Chrysler products steadily from 1980 to 2002.

    I discovered there were far better products out there and we bought a Honda and a Chevy and a couple of weeks ago, another Chevy, but I did really like the current 300.

    Interestingly, the combined mileage of 23.6 is close to my (so far) combined mileage of 26.1 on my 2012 Impala LTZ w/3.6L.

    I’m somewhat disappointed in that figure, as I got over 30 in my 2004 Impala w/3.4L. What gives with the so-called “improved” phantom fuel economy of these cars? It appears we’re going backwards, not forward.

    As to fuel economy, I responded to “Principal_Dan’s” question to me yesterday concerning this very thing. The only thing I can figure is that my car does double-duty, as it were, having sold the MX5…

    Anyway, the new 300 looks miles better than the original version and much more refined.

    Now if the OEM’s can toss out the bean counters and make the cars they really are capable of building. The sky would indeed be the limit!

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Thanks for providing photos of the inspiration for the 300′s design. It’s not nearly as gorgeous as the Chronos or Special, but there’s definitely a tiny bit of their bombastic DNA in the 300′s lines, as well as those of the 2005 300, penned by Ralph Gilles (currently Pres/CEO of the SRT Brand and Senior VP of Design of Chrysler Group)

    • 0 avatar

      Just before they dropped off the Chrysler 300 I was at the Concours of America, where the Chronos was on display. While reading about the Chronos I found out that Osamu Shikado, who drew it, said that his inspiration was actually the D’Elegance “Exner/Ghia” show car, which was an earlier expression of a lot of the styling you see in the Chrysler Special. I happen to think that the grille of the Chronos and the 2005+ 300 borrows more from the Chrysler Special. Since the Chrysler Special is on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum and since I’d gotten some pics of it just recently, I used that.

      Ironically, Ralph Gilles himself calls the 300′s grille the “Bentley grille”, though he spends enough time in the WPC Museum (he was on Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel last night and the remote looked like it was shot at the Museum) that I’m sure he knows it’s part of Chrysler’s styling heritage. I’m impressed with Gilles. The last time I ran into him he was at a Shelby Dodge club show, just checking out the car, with his dog Cuda.

      As far as I can tell, Gilles is the first designer that’s been put completely in charge of a brand at a Detroit car company. We’ll see just how big of a brand SRT grows into, but even Harley Earl didn’t run a brand.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    For 45 large I would expect an exterior that looked a little more decorated on the side view. It looks like a base stripper model with blingy wheels and not much else to identify it as a luxury version with a big price tag. The interior and drive are more impressive but I hope Chrysler saw fit to clean up the sometimes iffy quality control I have been experiencing on some of it’s latest offerings including a brand new Dart SXT complete with peeling upper dash coating and a 2012 Charger with some misaligned interior bits.

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    Maybe it’s a case of Panther Love, but for a full-size car, that trunk looks surprisingly small (16.3 ft3) and oddly shapped. Granted, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparision, but I prefer my trunks either deep (Panthers) or expansive (Impala). Also, 45k for gooseneck hinges? I can get linkages and dampers on a 15k Mazda3! I give alot of credit Chrysler/Dodge for sprucing up their product lines. I may never buy one, but they made me go from “Never in a million years” to “I’d consider it” in a short few years. Although, I’d still rather buy a used Panther than a brand new Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      This car crushes any Panther or any other 6 cylinder or 8 cylinder with-in $10,000 dollars. Better highway gas mileage than any ICE six cylinder Japanese car. A police car version of the Hemi Charger recorded the fastest time ever recorded at the Michigan police cars tests and the Pentastar Charger set a new record for E85 powered cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Gannet

        Agreed. I’ve got a Panther, and full appreciation for them, but there just is no comparison. These new 300s are great cars – maybe the best full-size American sedans ever built.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Ditto here. My dad owns both a Grand Marquis Ultimate and a 300 Limited, and although I like both vehicles, the 300 is clearly the better choice for a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      The BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Audi A6 all have gooseneck hinges…as does pretty much every notchback car. “Space-saving” hinges are usually reserved for cars with oddly shaped and/or small trunks that would be completely useless instead of mostly useless without them.

      Would space-saving hinges be nice? Absolutely.
      Is this criticism (in pretty much every review of a notchback car these days) overblown? Absolutely.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Good review. The Chrysler 300 sounds worthy of consideration.

    Chrysler reliability is always the deal breaker for me. Consumer Reports’ 2012 quality report puts it in last place. Buyers don’t expect zero defect engineering and manufacturing, but they do look to carmakers to make it right when they mess up. The domestics’ customer care reputations are deplorable.

    I would be particularly concerned about the eight speed automatic transmission. An overhaul would probably result in a complete wallet-ectomy.

    Imperial was Chrysler Corporation’s luxury brand from 1955- 75 and again from 1981- 83 when it was a separate make. The Imperial name had been used since 1926, as in Chrysler Imperial.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/1955_Imperial.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Brantta

      April 2012
      “As Ford’s star has fallen, Chrysler’s has risen. Jeep has moved up seven spots to become the most reliable domestic brand, and all its models for which we have sufficient data scored average in predicted reliability. Chrysler and Dodge moved up 12 and three spots in ranking, respectively.”
      http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/cr-recommended/best-worst-in-car-reliability/reliability-findings/reliability-findings.htm

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        Subaru earned the top score of 75 points followed by Mazda with 74 and Toyota at 73. Honda was fourth with 72 points, Nissan fifth at 67, Hyundai and BMW tied with 63 and Volkswagen garnered 62. Ford dropped to 10th place with 60 points, General Motors (GM) rang up 56 and Chrysler remained in last place with 51.

        “We grade the automakers,” Consumer Reports, April 2012, p. 15.

      • 0 avatar
        Brantta

        That quote and numbers don’t represent reliability ratings and you know it. That’s not nice what you’re doing.

        At first you said that reliability is the deal breaker. Now with the second post you say that you won’t consider Chrysler 300c because Jeep Wrangler ROAD TEST SCORE was really bad. That’s ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Bushwack

    Back in 1980 I bought a Chrysler and sold it in 1983 for one reason: The interior was falling apart. I swore I’d never buy another Chrysler product.
    .
    32 years later, interior trim is still falling apart on a new Chrysler. Interesting that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      I had an ’89 New Yorker that I inherited from my grandmother, and the only problems I ever had with it were the same as this car. My (fake) wood trim’s glue failed on both front doors just as in the photo above. Other than that, it was extremely reliable, very comfortable, was far peppier than the Escort it replaced, and got 33mpg hwy. Perfect for the time, when I was logging 35,000 miles/yr. But that trip problem, however small it may be, drove me nuts.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I had a Ram, a Charger R/T, and now a Challenger R/T. Nothing has fallen apart on any of them. Of the three, the Ram had a bad rear differential, fixed under warranty with a free loaner. That’s it, the other cars have had ZERO issues, 3 years on the Charger and almost 2 years on the Challenger. I have no problems with Chrysler reliability. A bunch of people I know have 300′s, Chargers, Magnums, and Challengers, some with very high mileage (The Magnum is approaching 200K miles on it). All of them have pretty much been trouble free. Any minor issues were taken care of by the dealer quickly and without any struggle.

  • avatar

    Everything an “American” sedan should be and exactly what I remember cars being like when I was a kid. Too bad they are imported from Canada instead of being made in Detroit.

    The shifter has been my main problem since well before I ever got into the 300. I found out this shifter was GARBAGE when I tested an Audi A8. Got in the car and my knee popped the shifter off the stalk. I’m like “$100,000 for this CRAP???” Sure enough, Chrysler ended up using the same shifter. I truly hope they go back to the drawing board and give the 2013 SRT8 something different. The 5-speed shifter from the outgoing car is better. traditional stuff should not be changed. I’m not a fan of push button starters either.

    The Uconnect8.4n radio is probably the best touchscreen infotainment system on the market. The Audi’s “finger draw” thing is dumb and BMW/Mercedes/Lexus don’t have touchscreens. I was using the Lexus GS’ new GPS nav the other day with its haptic mouse and got disgusted. Cadillac’s Cue system features unresponsive touch panels and it’s smartphone like pinch-to-zoom is slow.

    I’m not completely wowed by the interior materials, but for the price of these cars and what you get, it works.

    I do wish the seats had a lumbar massage feature and I probably won’t buy the car with the “safetytec” package. I’ve never needed forward collision cause I can see well over the wheel, but I must have rear parking assist and the backup cam. I don’t want the blindspot mirrors. I check my blindspots by actually turning my head to look – like you’re supposed to.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Very handsome car. I never liked the previous version; the hard edges never seemed fully baked. This one is. Even the brown looks attractive. Gas mileage is also impressive. I average about 3 MPG less with a similar Nissan powertrain in a sedan that’s 9/10 the size of this one.

    The comprehensiveness of your review is appreciated.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Why do manufacturers feel compelled to change the traditional PRNDL shifting methodology? I rented a BMW 116i in Germany that had their latest iteration of an electronically controlled selector and after a week of driving I still found it infuriating, far from intuitive, and needlessly complicated just for the sake of ergonomic change. While the review is not quite clear in describing how Chysler’s shifter works, I’m sorry to see them messing with a time-honored convention that didn’t need messing with.

    • 0 avatar

      You depress the button and pull back one detent for reverse, two detents for neutral and all the way back for Drive. Pulling it back again selects Sport mode. You can select Neutral from Drive without pressing the interlock but I think all other shifts need it. The detents are subtle and most reviewers have mentioned that they take some use to get used to them. Remember, PRNDL wasn’t always a standard. This is really just PRND but the gears are selected electronically, not mechanically.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The V6 is ok, but the true way to get this car is with the Hemi. Also, I belive a Dr.Dre Beats audio system is avalible.

    • 0 avatar

      Pardon me if I persist in the idea that Alpine as well as JBL, and Krell, and Mark Levinson, and B&W, knows more about audio than Dr. Dre.

      I’d put Dr. Dre’s branding of Beats to be akin to VW branding their audio gear with Fender. They’re names that consumers know, not necessarily audiophile gear.

      BTW, Mike Karesh thinks the V6 versions of this platform are better balanced than the HEMI powered ones.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        I knew Beats audio was a joke when I had seen the HP Touchpad with the Beats Audio logo. What a joke.

        VW had branded some of their cars with Dynaudio speakers. I went to drive a 4 door GTI back in 2010 with that option, and the dealer said it was a special order option. Pfft.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        I seriously doubt that there’s much audiofile about any OEM system, no matter what stickers the car manufacturers OEM are sticking on the parts-

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        I consider myself an audiophile and any help in-car systems can get is appreciated. It’s an impossible acoustic environment with unique challenges (road and engine noise, crazy reflective surfaces), so one has to taper one’s expectations and look for clean reproduction of all frequencies with decent power to overcome external noise. Decent imaging is practically impossible, so anything in the ballpark is ok by me. There are several OEM systems that do a reasonably good job at this, with the Mark Levinson system in upper end Lexus vehicles being particularly notable. Bang and Olufsen, Dynaudio, Harmann-Kardon, JBL, Infinity, Rockford-Fosgate, and yes even Bose (sometimes) have provided decent audio systems while working with auto manufacturers.

        Dr. Dre is a brand of Monster, and the VW Fender systems now showing up in the Beetle, Passat, and Jetta are comprised of Panasonic components. If the owner of the car gets speakers that are a couple notches above the absolute junk typically included in a base system, with a real amplifier capable of providing sound past a whisper without clipping, then the consumer comes out ahead. With so much function being integrated into a car’s Infotainment systems today, aftermarket solutions to mediocre sound are becoming increasingly expensive to incorporate. Better to start with some kind of OEM option that doesn’t send the owner screaming from the car in disgust with ear-grating sound. Gone are the days when you could slap an Audiovox cassette head unit in the dash with a couple of Jensen 6x9s in the rear package deck. Now you have to tap into the car’s central electronic system without destroying it, incorporate Bluetooth and cell-phone functionality, and figure out how to retain your steering wheel controls. It ain’t easy and it sure isn’t cheap.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    What is the target market for this vehicle? As someone in his mid-30′s working a white collar middle class existence I can honestly say I don’t know anyone of my co-workers or friends that would want a vehicle like this.

    This vehicle does have appeal in a different segment of society and I think any review that fails to address that issue is an epic fail. Stereotypes are hard to break and I absolutely without a doubt guarantee that if I were to head to the water cooler and say I was considering a 300 people would laugh and ask if I were a pimp or drug dealer.

    It is what it is no matter how good the vehicle may be.

    • 0 avatar
      drivelikejehu

      Yeah, I thought the exact same thing. The fact is, a car says something about the driver. It’s hard to imagine a car that would raise more eyebrows than the 300, if the typical professional or businessperson drove up in one. Even a clunker would be more readily understood (so-and-so is cheap).

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My business partner has a Magnum. It makes perfect sense for him, as he surfs every morning and it can carry an assortment of boards in locked security. The rest of the time he has a luxurious, leather lined, Hemi-powered hatchback that can take a foursome to the golf course. What he discovered is what you already know. People judge him when he drives the Magnum, so he now has a conventional German luxury car for when he isn’t hauling his boards.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Is it the brash styling that’s off putting? I hated the way it used to look and think that it hasn’t gotten much better, on the upside you don’t have to suffer the indignity of calling it a Lancia.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        I think the styling is off putting, but I’m biased (just like everyone else) and don’t particularly like big vehicles.

        The high beltline and linear look gives it a gangster look IMHO. Older 300′s are already blinged with 22″ rims and such while the even older LH cars never had this happen to them. Wonder why?

        If the styling were more in line with the MB that it was inspiried from would it be as successful? Whose to tell, but I bet it would be found in a lot more garages in the upper middle class neighborhoods.

    • 0 avatar

      “Different segment of society”??

      You mean the folks who can afford $45K cars? Or are you talking about folks who are the same shade as this car?

      So, because you work with racists who stereotype folks, this review is an “epic fail”? Are your water cooler friends more impressed by a Beemer? Do you really let what others think control your own choices?

      I thought I was reviewing a car, not subjecting myself to other people’s prejudices. To be honest, if this was a VW New Beetle or a Miata, I might make a passing reference to those cars’ images as “chick” or “gay” cars (I suppose Subarus are for gay chicks), but I never really thought of the 300 as some kind of gangsta ride. Sure, Snoop Dog called up Chrysler to get one when they were fresh, but the hip hop crowd seems to have had higher aspirations and gravitated to the VW Phaeton in quasi-bespoke British wear Bentley. Around here the Chrysler 300 seems to be driven by middle class folks. This is the Detroit area so some of those middle class folks are indeed the same color as this BCAS-worthy 300 (well, minus the pearl flake). Perhaps that fits into your water cooler friends’ stereotypes, but I seem more B-bodies around here with 22s than on Chrysler 300s.

      It’s funny that for the entire week that I had the car, not one person asked me if I was a pimp or a drug dealer. Most just said that it was a nice looking car and asked me how I liked it.

      As a car reviewer my life is now complete. I have elicited “great review” and “epic fail” with the same piece of writing.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        Kudos! Great response!
        I’m 37 and would consider the 300 and don’t fit any preconceived stereotypes.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        The image seems to be changing on this car with the refresh. The old car was a poseur. Many people could get used rentals w/ the awful 2.7 and throw rental wheels on them. You could either get a stripper 300 for cheap and overlook the terrible interior and engine, or get the 300C and at least feel like you were in an proper American sedan.

        This new model, along with most of what Chrysler is doing now, seems to be shifting perceptions. I’m sure the Italian connection doesn’t hurt. If I were selling these I’d push that all day long. I’d definitely cross shop this car if I could ever be convinced paying that much for any car was worthwhile.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Ok, so maybe epic fail was a bit harsh, but I stand firm where
        I said sterotypes are hard to break. Sales volume for the 300 has fallen off a cliff and if I were at Chrysler I’d ask why.

        Certinaly, as you mentioned, Chrysler doesn’t carry the same snob appeal as some other makes. I don’t think many people consider Chrysler as a luxury brand. Even less so than Lincoln.

        Every marketer has an audience who they try to sell to. I’m no ChryCo insider but I’m guessing they want the demographic that is buying that G37 or 3-series (that you mention as competitiors in the price range). Ok, to get that group you have to change your image and a big part of it is the look of the sheet metal on the outside.

        Sure, there may be more B-bodies rolling around with 22″ rims but GM killed that back in what? 1996? Chrysler 300 is the new B-body. That’s fine, but I think a review should address that issue and it’s ramifications. Call me racist or whatever but like it or not designs sell differently across race groups, sexes, nationalities, etc. (And for the record, I have driven the 300 as a rental and find it to be a very decent large RWD sedan.)

      • 0 avatar
        drivelikejehu

        This is just an emotional response that does not match reality. Personal goods or choices that do not fit with prevailing norms are going to attract negative attention. That could be under- or over-dressing at work, for instance.

        The association the 300 brings to my mind is with Ed Harris’ character in ‘A History of Violence’ (he is driven around in a black one by his fictional Philadelphia Irish mob goons). It is an inelegant and brash vehicle, which as a side effect does attract showy young males, but that is just a symptom rather than the cause of the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        FWIW, when Farago reviewed the new 300C back in 2004 he made a lot of the same points made by 200k-min. Just check out the first 3 paragraphs.

        He even straight up wrote: “The C’s gang-banger demeanor may shock delicate sensibilities, but its appearance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Blacks have long been the engine of US culture; the extension of their influence into the automotive arena is both logical and welcome. ”

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2004/06/chrysler-300c/

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I wasn’t trying to attack the review, merely noting that these cars are frowned upon in places where bling is a derogatory term. I really don’t like the exposed glue strip marring the dashboard though. It reminds me of the instant entropy that has always afflicted Detroit’s overdone luxury cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        I certainly wouldn’t call the review an epic fail – it was awesome as usual.

        I think 220k-min and CJinSD are illustrating a cultural difference, though. I think it’s safe to say the tastes of the Whole Foods shoppers of the liberal cities on the coasts don’t extend to big, brash Detroit iron. All those blinged out Caddys cruising the ghettoes caused a huge problem to Cadillac’s brand image and like it or not the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300 have acquired a similar image.

        I suspect this effect is much less in flyover country, and almost nonexistent up here in Canada. I have colleagues who drive them and quite like them, but I can’t recall ever encountering anyone who has one among the high tech crowd I work with when I travel in the US. It’s all Acuras, BMWs, Volvos, Audis, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        oldyak

        Actually in my neck of the woods the “minorities” have better taste in cars than most of the “European Americans”.
        Yea there are a lot of binged out 300`s but also binged out Mercedes,BMW`s,and Cadillacs!
        And while dont personally care for the huge chrome wheels I can understand the need to personilize a car that is so popular.
        My neighbor who is a (shuuuush) black has a 2 year old 7 Series BMW with original wheels and a 1970 Plymouth Duster black/on black with Kick ass wheels and tires.
        Could some class envy be at work here……And REALLY how many people gather around a water cooler.
        Me thinks someone needs to find a water cooler.
        and if necessary,some new friends!

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        It is very interesting how one’s initial auto-related experiences carry on throughout life. This was the true genius of Japan Inc’s Trojan Horse assault in the early ’80s: at a time when Detroit floundered, trying to make big cars feel small and get decent gas mileage, the Japanese sailed under the radar with small, cute econoboxes that were cheap, easy to fix and appealed to the younger classes.
        Anyone who was horrified with their parents’ Citation or Omni, would have clung to a Civic. The best part (as evidenced by a few remarks here about Chrysler from 30+ years ago) is that as bad as a 1981 Citation or K-car may have been (in some people’s eyes), those kids who were forced to drive mommy’s 198

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        I’m in my mid 40′s and have owned a 2012 Charger R/T for the past 3 months. It’s a fun car that my whole family fits comfortably in. I don’t care what anyone thinks about my choice, I bought it for me and I was shopping vehicles up to 60k. The Charger was loaded at $32.5, a great value. I even look forward to my next one, maybe an SRT-8 300 as the styling is a bit more restrained.

        I’m Puerto Rican so I guess I fit the profile. I totally look white, though :)

        Great review Ronnie, thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        oldfatandrich

        Why are we flailing around with talk about race and ethnicity ? This is a very ordinary car (correctly priced for what you’re getting)which will appeal to most anyone who wants a an Oldsmobile 98 circa 1971. I am amazed that not a single post has mentioned the exterior styling, which, put chartitably, is long past its sell date.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      This car, by itself, isn’t flashy enough that I’d associate a stock version with any stereotypes. Stock versions of all trim levels are common here and driven by a wide range of demographics. As with most vehicles, the stereotyping begins immediately after the special “performance-dehancing” wheels are installed.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        It’s not the flashy, or any other tangible quality of the car. It’s who else drives it.

        Which is mostly people with their pants around their knees and a few people with their pants around their navels.

      • 0 avatar

        I recently left a fortune 100 company a few months before I left one of the mid-upper level (in charge 0f 100-150 people) managers (in his mid thirties)bought SRT8 300. I think its hard to pigeonhole people. That being said leased BMW and Benz’s were the most common vehicle in the parking lot they fell into two groups modern yuppies and working middle aged women, go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      My mid-70s parents would love this car — if I could get them into a Chrysler dealership.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    Regardless of how the wood trim is attached, I like the fact that the wood trim isn’t shiny. Is that just in the photos or is it like that in person?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a satin finish and you can feel the grain.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      In the pictures I thought it looked like old grain that the finish had worn off of. Reminded me of an old 85 BMW 735 I used to have as a project car, all the wood looked like it needed a refinish.

      It’s a shame about that trim coming off already. I hope it’s an anomaly and not a sign of Italian influenced quality control. It reminds me of my boss’s Maserati, the leather on the dash was curling up after about 6 months.

      • 0 avatar
        ridoca

        Pretty sure the Italian influence in quality control is what has made all the difference between the craptastic interiors (and mechanicals, etc) of yore, and today’s Chryco products. This level of trim, for example, wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the fact that they needed this at the bare minimum to be able to try and push it as a Lancia in Italy (not that it worked anyways, mind you). IIRC, the dash is from a supplier in the Michigan area. That might explain the wood trim slip (but not the fact that it slipped through QC, I agree with you there. Unless it started peeling after leaving the factory, in which case QC couldn’t possibly have spotted it).

        According to one top level manager I spoke to, only two of all Chrycos plants were deemed sufficiently modern by FIAT to be able to produce XXI century-level cars. The Toledo plat where they will build the new Liberty/Cherokee will be a copy of the one FIAT has near Naples: look it up on YouTube and let me know what you think after seeing what a next generation plant looks like.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        false. if you look at the slides presented by Minimum Bob prior to and during the bankruptcy hearings, the 300′s interior design was already done by 2009. Fiat just made sure Chrysler stuck around long enough to launch the thing.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Just a note about redundant controls. Assuming the 2012 is the same as my 2011 300C, the rear sunscreen has a redundant physical control on the backside of the center console; someone sitting in the back can control the rear sunscreen. I have found that all functions accessible via voice/touchscreen (volume, up/down control, sunscreen, HVAC) has some type of redundant physcial control.

    Unlike the MKS I just got from Avis. Trying to get the damn XM radio to change channels took me 5 minutes, and I’m an engineer! Lost 10 IQ points listening to Fox until I could switch it to more intelligent fare such as the BAckspin Old School Hip Hop station.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ha ha ha! Listening to anything (c)rap or hip-hop will kill the remaining 90% of your IQ!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your point. System redundancy is an excellent thing. It’s one instance where the Germans and even Lexus have severely dropped the ball: they don’t have touchscreens in most of their cars while the Big 3 and the newer Japanese imports do.

      My major problem with the 300 is that it doesn’t have seat controls for heating/cooling besides the touchscreen. The steering wheel either.

      I wouldn’t want to have to touch the screen if my hands had ice on them or dirt.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It appears that Chrysler makes a better Cadillac than GM.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Great review for what is undoubtedly a huge hit for Chrysler. This is last of a dying breed: the classic american sedan. I can’t wait to see what the next all-new 300 platform brings to the table–which is supposedly already in early testing.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    If I had to choose any car made today for an impromptu long distance road trip, I think I’ve found the perfect candidate.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great review! Whereas the 2005 was brash and in-your-face, this is a subtle refinement of that design. Actually looks very sophisticated in darker colors.

    I always wondered why Chryco dropped the Magnum; I know in Europe there was a 300-based wagon available.

    Along with the Jeep GC and maybe the Dart, Chrysler is inching upwards in their offerings….

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Having owned many wagons in my time I really wanted to like the Magnum, and I gave serious consideration to buying one about 3-4 years ago. In the right color and trim combo, it is an extremely badass looking vehicle. However, to achieve the badassness a whole lot of functionality was compromised. The cargo area has a high floor and low ceiling. The tiny side windows in the cargo area have really fat pillars and trim around them inside to the point where they are just about useless, making visibility in the Magnum worse than in the 300 sedan. The CTS wagon is far from a Country Squire but you get more of an impression that GM made an effort to make it a real wagon as well as a CTS.

  • avatar

    “Who is going to spend $45K on a Chrysler 300?”

    If people like me are willing to spend $55,000 on a 300 SRT8, I’m sure someone is willing to spend $45k on this.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    great review, although I admit we are in agreement on the car (although my only recent experience with current gen Chryslers were 5 speed auto Charger rentals). I did sit in one of these at the auto show and was blown away by the interior. Knowing how well the Chargers drive, I figure that interior with an even more refined driving experience would make for a compellign Luxury car. I don’t think it’s fair to compare this to a G37 or 3 series. I think of this more as a bargain 5 series or E class. if I want a mid/full size luxury car on the sporting end of the spectrum, I’d get an Infiniti M. If my concern was more luxury and comfort, I’d take this over the aforementioned Germans any day, although I’ll have mine with a Hemi thank you. The gas mileage penalty is worth it to me. I wasn’t a fan of the look at first (I really liked the first gens), but after seeing these on the road, its really grown on me. They have great presence, look awesome coming up on you in your rear view, and have a real sense of character and identity lacking in most cars today. Well done Chrysler.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Chrysler dropped the ball on the “Luxury Series” on the exterior. Sure it has “platinum chrome” accents, but the grill is what messes it up.

    http://chryslerfiat.blogspot.com/2011/12/chrysler-300s-luxury-version-gets.html

    The car originally shown in the photographs was beautiful with the Luxury Brown paint and the mesh grill. Too bad it (the grill) was yanked from the production version.

  • avatar
    Nick

    This car screams ‘summer road trip’. I can see myself taking a nice long journey in this.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Not one of these cars will ever sell for $45k. Or anything close to that. Real life price will be around $36k. Especially this time of year.

    That said, I have driven a few of these now, and find myself shocked how much I liked them.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    These are by far my favorite cars to get when I rent – and as I travel for work, that is every single week. It seems the choice is often between this and the Taurus, and this car is head and shoulders above the Ford. Ford’s only real advantage is the presentation of some of the infotainment stuff, but the Chrysler’s system works much better – it is more responsive to inputs for one thing.

    The version in the rental fleets is, I believe, the Limited – leather, backup camera and sensors, and 8-speed transmission, but not the top end gewgaws in this car.

    I also enjoy the Charger but the version you usually get in fleets has the 5 speed auto instead, which is not nearly as refined.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This is a big car. If you want a car where two backseat adult passengers can ride all day in total comfort, this is your car, not a 3-series, or a 5-series or a G37. I would add that, for a person of my size (6’3″, 220) this car is easier to enter and leave than those and feels less confining once you’re inside (not surprisingly; it’s bigger).

    I have to admit, I rented a “limited version” of the first gen car, with the 3.5 liter engine and found myself liking it, especially the way it drove. Whether it’s the German influence, I don’t know, but the suspension managed to be controlled but not punishing . . . unlike, say a Lincoln MKZ I rented that had a surprisingly punishing suspension, but nothing special handling characteristics.

    This version of the car remedies the gripes I had with the one I rented: excessive use of hard plastic in the interior and a mediocre engine/powertrain combination.

    Without a doubt, the imported alternatives mentioned may offer more cachet and/or better fuel economy and probably better interiors. . . but they do it at the expense of the folks in the back seat.

    If you don’t need a car this large, then others might make more sense.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I also found myself thinking, “Who is going to spend $45K on a Chrysler 300?”. Forty five thousand dollars will buy you a number of fine automobiles. At that price you can start considering a Cadillac CTS or a BMW 3 Series among other brands that might have more cachet and luxury cred than Chrysler these days.

    YOU SIR DO NOT GET IT. Please give this car to Jack Baruth to review and then he can tell us how it compares to a mid 1970s Fleetwood. Find the driver of a vintage 1975 Lincoln Town Car with the 460V8 or the driver of an early to mid 70s Imperial – Those gentlemen could tell us if this is a proper American car.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    What is “a proper American car” these days? This is it. It’s big, comfortable, quiet and it has presence. It’s also a great value.

    Comparing this car to BMWs misses the point. BMWs, while great cars, are poor values (except for the subsidized leases) for most people. Many people favor vehicle content over driving dynamics. When you consider that the gap in driving dynamics has shrunk over the years, it actually increases this car’s actual value. The only real question is reliability. But, I think, that’s another area where the gap has been closing.

    As for the comparison between the CTS and this car, I feel that that’s a more valid comparison. Again, the 300 gives you more for your money. I drive a 2010 CTS Wagon and I’ve spent some time in current 300s (my wife’s family lives near Palm Beach and I’ve rented several) and this car is impressive given the price. I really like my CTS Wagon, but to be honest, the 300 is a better value all around. It has a better nav system, a better transmission and is slightly quieter inside. Furthermore, the 300C offers something Cadillac doesn’t: a proper V8 RWD model that one can actually afford. The Pentastar is very nice, but the Hemi is a hell of a lot of fun. My last 300 rental as so equipped and I can’t remember ever having as much fun in a rental car.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    Q: Which features can only be controlled with the touchscreen?
    A: The heated seats and steering wheel.

    Q: When do you use them?
    A: In the winter.

    Q: What do you wear during winter?
    A: Gloves.

    Q: What doesn’t work when you wear gloves?
    A: A touchscreen.

    Q: Which features can only be controlled with the touchscreen?
    A: The heated seats and steering wheel.

    It’s the brain-dead Detroit version of a zen koan.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Basic functions should always be done the old fashion way, you can leave the fine tuning to the touch screen/menu driven system. The times I’ve driven in -40 the LCDs hasn’t been all that keen on displaying things at all when I’ve gotten into the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      I never wear gloves while driving, I find it uncomfortable. And if you do happen to be wearing gloves while driving then why would you need to heat the steering wheel?

      • 0 avatar
        fishiftstick

        You’re from the south, right?

        You know what else is uncomfortable? Hypothermia. Frostbite. Also, crashing. I find it helpful, when steering, to have some feeling in my hands.

        Hands have an palm and an back. The palm grips the wheel. The back doesn’t.

        That said, I can live without a heated wheel. Heated seats, on the other hand, are non-negotiable–and they need to come with a good-old-fashioned switch you can leave on, so when you remote-start the car, the seats warm up.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        No, fishiftstick, I’m from Ohio, where it has been known to get to minus 20 degrees. I don’t need heated steering wheels, heated seats or remote start systems. I’m a roofer, and if you think it gets cold standing on the ground try being high up on a rooftop. Same thing during the summer, it gets much hotter on a roof than being on the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        dutch45810

        Northern Ohio here. I don’t often wear gloves when driving either. Plus, the heat will usually kick in within a few minutes. I can see the benefit of dedicated switches, but honestly, a heated steering wheel seems to be an opulent luxury, not suited for prolet’s like myself.

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      The controls for the heated/cooled seats are programmable via the touch screen to fire up upon starting the vehicle. Look ma, no hands!

      “Ask the man who owns one”

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    My rental in northern New Jersey last year was a black 300c with a little less bling. I thought it was a nice ride but kind of big to get around some of the tight streets. It also fit in nicely with all the black, Lexus, Audi, MB, etc and could be had for a fraction of the price.

  • avatar
    djn

    I wonder if you can get it with a Lancia grille and badges?

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    “Other than the mentioned glitches, the only glaring quality control issue on a car with 2,940 miles reading on the odometer was a piece of wood trim above the glove box whose double sided tape was failing so the trim was hanging a bit loosely.”

    Thank you for reminder why I won’t buy American cars.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Amazing how Chrysler has gone from a joke to a legitimate player in the luxury field. Meanwhile, Lincoln still continues to me a laughable “near-luxury” trim level on a mediocre Ford.

    And speaking of Ford, they need to take a lesson from Chrysler on how to build a proper in-car tech system. Chrysler obviously did actual testing of their system where Ford just cobbled it together and threw it out there hoping it would “just work”.

  • avatar

    When the 300 debuted in 2005, I was an instant fan of its aggressive and angular looks. The current generation is an evolution of the same theme, but with a much better executed interior. Out of the current large executive luxury cars, 5-series, A6, XF, GS, this has the boldest styling. If Chrysler had a better brand image, I think this car would do a lot better in the market.


    @rockyroadblog

  • avatar

    this is called a luxury car. What a killing look this car has. I attracted by this car. I will love to drive this car with my own hands. to drive this car is like flying in heaven. If I want to buy a car , I will definitely buy this luxury.

  • avatar
    SweDane

    @shelvis,
    Owning a 300C Touring from 2007 – although built by Magna in Graz, Austria I can assure you that the frontsuspension largely comes from an S-Class (W220) – I have replaced several parts in my front suspension and they are all sourced from my local NAPA counterpart !
    The rearsuspension and brakes slightly differs from MB E-Class (W210-11-12) but parts will interchange !
    A comment on Chrysler quality and durability : I have driven roughly 200000 miles in my car since I took delivery in Dec 2006 – I have experienced no major problems – most of the parts I have replaced are servicerelated parts – the car still looks good and the design where you mate a Dodge Magnum with a 300C front clip and interior are just outstanding !
    Allthough I am a huge fan of Ralph & Sergio they have done a major error by badging the 300C with the Lancia nameplate – that is a total turnoff and nobody here in Scandinavia buy them !
    Get rid of the Lancia name and the new 300 will be a hit – again !

  • avatar
    jim77

    GREAT AMERICAN CAR !!! so much so i actually purchesed one !!
    i recon this car is one of the best value car on the world market today …especially when price/features are taken into account it has class performanc good fuel ecconomy and good road manners..
    i test drove a c-250 ,new BMW 3 series 328, subaru 3.6r liberty , ford falcon G6e turbo, holden SS 6.2 , and the new opel insignia, … i felt this car had the best mix of features refinement and performance …and to be honest i liked the look better than the others except maybe the new 3 series BMW, infact after 3 months the only complaint i have is the seats could have more bolstering on the sides.
    my average fuel consumtion has been 10.1 litres per 100 kilometers which is absolutely fantastic for a 2 tonne car .
    In australia however i did have to pay $54000 for this model on road including all taxes and registrations ….seems high compared to what you pay in the USA …
    A last point the BMW/mercedes/ford/subaru/audi etc have the same parts bin ZF transmissions along with probably the brakes and most electrical components all now made in china by the cheapest bidder
    and the fact that parts manufacturing companies really make cars these days is the truth of the matter …


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