The Truth About Cars » 300 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:58:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 300 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-chrysler-300-srt8-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-chrysler-300-srt8-video/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485421

There’s a “problem” with the modern performance variant: they are too easy to review. You see, dropping a high-horsepower V8 into anything makes it good. Take the last generation Chrysler 300 SRT8. It’s interior was made from plastics rejected by Lego and Rubbermaid and you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from the $9.99 rent-a-car special. The big difference with the SRT versions was that Chrysler stuffed a 425HP 6.1L V8 under the hood and a set of pipes that made the 300 sound like sex. The uncomfortable seats, crappy dash plastics and 1990s stereo were distant memories. If Chrysler had managed to fit the same V8 into the Sebring, it would have been the best convertible ever. This time is different. Before the 2013 300 SRT8 arrived, I decided I would not be seduced by Chrysler’s larger, meaner, sexier, more powerful 6.4L engine and review it like any other car. Can that be done?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Our refrigerator white tester is impossible to confuse with anything else on the road. While there are still some Bentleyesque features, the 300 is solidly Chrysler metal from the long hood to the slim greenhouse. The 300′s tall and blunt nose is entirely functional and the bold sheetmetal is truly function over form. You see, the 6.4L pushrod V8 is very tall and very long, jamming it under a modern sloping hood to a aerodynamic nose simply wouldn’t have worked. That height dictates the beginning of the greenhouse around the front doors and that line continues rearward.

Out back, things have been brought up market with new tail lamps that don’t have the same bargain basement theme as the first generation 300. Despite the improvements there’s something unfinished about the 300′s looks to my eye. Perhaps the original 300 was so bold my expectations for a redesign were unachievable.

For SRT8 duty Chrysler swaps the stock wheels for wide 20-inch aluminum shod with 245/45R20 all-season rubber and the front grille turns black. Nestled inside the larger wheels are larger rotors with four-piston Brembo brakes (14.2-inch up front and 13.8 in the rear.) The rest of the SRT8 changes are subtle enough that they may go unnoticed unless parked next to a lesser 300. The same finlets that sprouted in 2011 are present on the SRT8 and there’s no ridiculous wing or funky chin spoiler to destroy the 300′s luxury lines.

Those luxury lines are important in another way, they help justify the SRT8 Core’s  $44,250 base price. The Core model is a new twist in Chrysler’s SRT8 plot offering a bit more than just a “decontented” ride. In order to get the $4,000 lower starting price the Core ditches the leather seats, HID headlamps and adaptive suspension. Core models can be distinguished by the 6.4L badge on the front fenders, more aggressive wheels and the blacked out halogen headlamps from the 300S.

Interior

Nevermore has an automotive interior gone from plastastic to fantastic so rapidly as the 300 and it’s all down to stitched cow. The SRT8 Core model and base SRT8 models make do with a slightly rubbery injection molded dashboard, a $2,500 option on the non-Core SRT8 takes you to a place hitherto the exclusive domain of six-figure luxury cars: the full-leather dashboard.  Trust me, the cash is worth it. Without the upgrade, the Camcord quality interior plastics stick out like a sore thumb, with it your passengers will be fawning over your french seams. While the 300 interior feels less expensive than an M5 or E63, it’s a better place to spend your time than a CTS-V.

SRT8 shoppers need to be prepared for a sea of black or some fairly striking red as they are the only two interior colors offered in the 300 SRT8 and carbon fibre is the only trim available. I’m not usually a fan of black-on-black interiors, but Chrysler thankfully breaks things up a bit with Alcantara faux-suede sections in the seats. SRT8 Core shoppers have less choice being offered only in a black-cloth configuration.

All models get reworked front seats that offer more lateral bolstering but still suffer from Chrysler’s latest seat-oddity: seat cushions you sit on rather than in. While not as pronounced as the seats in the Chrysler 200 Convertible we had, I had the constant feeling I was sitting on a large gumdrop. Despite this, the seats proved reasonably comfortable on my long commute despite the lack of thigh support this design causes. Just keep in mind that Alcantara can be a maintenance bear, so avoid spills and trousers made of rough fabric. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Just Google “Alcantara pilling” to educate yourself.

Thanks to the super-sized proportions, the 300 offers the same amount of rear legroom as the Cadillac XTS. To put that in perspective, that’s several inches more than a BMW M5, Jaguar XFR, Cadillac CTS-V or Mercedes E63, all of which could be considered valid SRT8 competition. The 300 is more closely aligned in terms of size to the next-tier up in vehicles, the short wheelbase 7-Series, Cadillac XTS, short wheelbase XJ, etc.

Infotainment

Chrysler’s 8.4-inch uConnect infotainment system is standard although the Core model cuts the nav software to keep the price of entry low. uConnect is proof that being late to the party has advantages. Chrysler had more time to work out bugs, or maybe they just had better engineers working on the system, whatever the reason uConnect runs circles around MyFord Touch and Cadillac’s CUE in terms of response time and reliability. To date I have not had a Ford, Lincoln or Cadillac test car that didn’t have a total melt-down that required me to pull a fuse to reboot.

The system combines radio, multimedia, climate control, navigation, Bluetooth and other functions into a single screen. While some functions have duplicated hardware buttons, others can only be controlled via the touchscreen. This is both good and bad. It eliminates the button array plaguing Buick and Acura models, but some functions take longer and require more “eyes off the road” time than a hardware button. Stabbing the right button with gloves on is also a challenge.

The latest software adds full voice control of your USB/iDevice and worked very well without the library size limitations Toyota products suffer from. MyFord Touch offers a wider variety of “commandable” items and more natural command syntax, but  uConnect has a more natural voice and faster processing. Sadly the Garmin navigation isn’t well integrated into the system looking as if you’d just cut a hole in the screen and put a portable Garmin behind it. The look isn’t surprising since that’s exactly what Chrysler did, except they did it in software, not with a razor blade. While it makes uConnect’s navigation option inexpensive and easy to update, the graphics and menu structure don’t jive with the rest of the system and nav voice commands are very different from other cars on the market. Chevy’s new MyLink’s interface is just as snappy as uConnect but offers more polished navigation commands and a more seamless interface.

SRT8 models get additional apps tailored to the vehicle (shown above). The SRT apps include a race timer, G-Force displays as well as several screens of additional gauges like oil temperature, incoming air temperature, battery voltage, etc. There is also a custom screen that shows exactly how much power and torque the ginormous engine is cranking out at any moment. If you want the latest in uConnect with 911 asist and 3rd party smartphone apps, you’ll need to wait until Chrysler refreshes the 300 with the same system the new Grand Cherokee and RAMs use. If you want to know more about uConnect, check out the video at the beginning of the review.

Drivetrain

OK, this is the section you’ve been waiting for. Chrysler didn’t just tweak the old 6.1L SRT engine from the first generation SRT8 vehicles, and they didn’t just grab the Challenger Drag Pack/Mopar Crate engine either. You heard that right, this is not the “392 Hemi” in the Mopar catalog. Instead, Chrysler went back to the drawing board, cast a new block and built the new 6.4/392 around the design framework of the revised 2009 5.7L Hemi. This means you get variable cam timing to improve power and emissions, and Chrysler’s Multi Displacement System to improve efficiency. The redesigned engine still uses two valves and two spark plugs per cylinder and a heavily modified semi-hemispherical design. With as much engineering time as they undoubtedly spent, I’m somewhat surprised Chrysler didn’t cook up a dual-overhead cam SRT engine. No matter, there’s something primal about owning a car with an enormous push-rod V8.

Chrysler didn’t stop at enlarging the displacement, power is way up as well. The new monster is good for 470 horsepower and a stump-pulling 470 lb-ft of torque. While that may not sound like a huge improvement over the old 425HP 6.1L engine, the new 6.4 produces 90 lb-ft (or one whole Prius) more torque at 2,900 RPM. But that’s not all. Thanks to the trick cam timing, the new engine out powers the old by at least 60lb-ft from idle all the way to 5,600 RPM. The old SRT8 was a stout machine, but back-to-back, it feels like it runs out of breath easily. The improved thrust takes the 300 from 0-60 in a quick 4.5 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 12.87 seconds at a blistering 113 MPH. Those numbers aren’t that far removed from the BMW M5, E63 AMG, or Jaguar XFR-S.

If you were hoping 2013 would bring the new ZF/Chrysler 8-speed transmission to the SRT8, so was I. Sadly, the only cog-swapper offered on the 300 SRT8 is the old Mercedes 5-Speed that the 300 has been using since 2004. I wouldn’t say the Merc tranny is bad, but it’s not exactly a team player either. The shifts are somewhat sluggish, particularly when downshifting, and the ratios are far enough apart that highway passing can be dramatic or anticlimactic depending on how far down the transmission is willing to shift. Driven in a vacuum the WA580 is an acceptable play mate, but drive that Grand Cherokee SRT8 parked next to the 300 on the lot and your eyes will be opened.

If you believe that there is no replacement for displacement, the 300 SRT8 will be your poster boy. Sure, the latest German twin-turbo V8s put down more power, but the American bruiser has something they can’t deliver: a raucous V8 sound track. Proving the point I had the opportunity at a regional media event to drive several Mercedes, BMW and Chrysler models back-to-back on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The M6 blew down the main straight at a blistering pace with a tame, almost muted exhaust note. You can thank the turbos in the exhaust for that. Meanwhile hearing the 300 SRT8, Challenger SRT8 and Grand Cherokee SRT8 blast down the straight at the same time nearly made me pee my pants.

So it sounds good and clears 60 in 4.5. What’s not to love? The tire selection. All 300 SRT8s come standard with 245 width all-season rubber all the way around. Chrysler does offer a summer tire package, but it’s not what you want either. According to the 300 forum fan boys, you can stuff some seriously wide 295 or 305 width rubber in the rear without rubbing and there are a few companies out there making wider replica wheels so you can retain the stock look. Going this route will do a few things for you. The most obvious if the improved grip in the corners which is already good, but a lightly modified 300 proved it has the ability to be excellent and second you’ll get better 0-60 numbers. In our testing the 300 spent so much time spinning the “narrow” all-season rubber, I suspect a 4.3 second sprint to 60 is possible. Of course, that rumored 8-speed auto may provide a similar performance bump, the new cog swapper dropped the Grand Cherokee SRT8′s 0-60 time by a full second.

When the going gets twisty Chrysler’s adaptive suspension (not available in the core model) and regular old hydraulic assist power steering conspire to create a modern Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide. In standard mode the suspension is moderately firm and compliant, soaking up roadway irregularities like a taut German cruiser. In Sport mode the system stiffens the dampers and attempts to counteract tip/dive and sideways motions. In Track Sport the dampers are set to their stiffest mode and the 5-speed auto gets downshift happy. On regular road surfaces the suspension never felt punishing, even on broken pavement, which translates to a slightly soft ride on the track, a worthy trade-off in my book, since few new cars are headed for the track anyway.  The decision to leave electric power steering off the table for the moment makes the enormous and moderately numb Chrysler have perhaps the best steering feel in this coat-closet-sized segment.

As before, the 300 SRT8 represents an incredible value compared to the other high-performance RWD sedans on the market. The difference is, this time around I don’t have any caveats attached to that. Our well-equipped tester rang in at $56,235 with every option except the black roof, up-level paint and tinted chrome bits. That’s about $12,000 less than a comparable CTS-V, and a whopping $40,000 less than a comparable M5 or E63. Of course the SRT8 isn’t going to have the exclusivity or snob value of the Germans and it’s less powerful for sure, but the fact that we can even have this discussion is saying something. While the 6.4L engine is undeniably intoxicating, the 300 SRT8 finally gets better under the harsh light of reality. Chrysler’s new-found ability to craft a desirable interior and competitive infotainment system mean you won’t have to “live with” much other than the 5-speed automatic. Give Chrysler a year or two and even that caveat may be lifted.

Hit it

  • Sexy optional leather dash is a must.
  • Endless torque.
  • Bragging rights: My engine is bigger than yours.

Quit it

  • Ye olde 5-speed should have been swapped for the sweet 8-speed this year. For shame.
  • Rubbery dashboard in the Core model.
  • AWD would make the SRT8 sell easier in the north.

 Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.08 Seconds

0-40: 2.8 Seconds

0-50: 3.66 Seconds

0-60: 4.5 Seconds

0-70: 5.73 Seconds

0-80: 7.0 Seconds

0-90: 8.83 Seconds

0-100: 10.54 Seconds

0-110: 12.5 Secodns

1/4 Mile:  12.87 Seconds @ 113 MPH

Average fuel economy: 17.8 over 566 miles

2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Stitched Dashboard, Premium Leather Group, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Stitched Dashboard, Premium Leather Group, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Stitched Dashboard, Premium Leather Group, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Stitched Dashboard, Premium Leather Group, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Shift Paddles, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Shift Paddles, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, 20-inch Wheels, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Tail Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Rear Profile, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Dashboard, uConnect 8.4 and HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, SRT Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Tachometer, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, HVAC knobs, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Center Console Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Center Console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Door Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Back Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Back Seats Folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Back Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Engine, 470HP 6.4L 392 HEMI, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Engine, 6.4L HEMI, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8, Infotainment, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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New Or Used? : What Isn’t Better Than A Panther Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-what-isnt-better-than-a-panther-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-what-isnt-better-than-a-panther-edition/#comments Fri, 12 Apr 2013 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484419
TJ writes:

Hey Sajeev and Steve,

Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall.

She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were still for sale.  If you’re asking why she’s getting rid of it, there isn’t any particular reason.

My aunt always replaces her cars ever 3-5 years (so B&B please no exhortations to keep the car, that was my original advice and it isn’t happening) and this one is coming up on it’s expiration date.  A word about my mother’s family so you realize how committed they are to this sort of car: My mom is one of 4 sisters, and between them, they’ve owned (at least) 2 Cadillac Devilles, 2 Eldorados, the aforementioned MGMs, a Buick Lesabre or Park Ave, and a Lincoln Town Car.  You get the idea.  They like them big, floaty, with a cavernous trunk, and preferably with a leather couch or recliner in the front.

I’m gonna try to take her to the Miami auto show this fall so she can see sample all her options at once, but wanted to see if you had any guidance.  Of the new cars that will be on offer, what is the next best thing to her beloved Panther?  My aunt realizes most people have migrated to SUVs/CUVs, but she says they won’t work because she finds them too difficult to climb in and out of (she’s 65 and barely over 5′ tall).

My first two suggestions were shot down, which were a Chrysler 300 (does’t like the styling) and a Chrysler Town and Country (doesn’t want a minivan).  I still hope that maybe sitting in the 300, or seeing the versatility of the T&C may change her mind (she has two still growing grandkids).  The next best option I could think of was the Ford Flex, with the Taurus being a distant 4th.  Any other suggestions?

I’ll have her look at the LaCrosse, Genesis, Azera, Avalon, and ES350, but I’m concerned they will be too small and/or not cushy enough, and the Cadillac XTS may be too pricey and not torquey enough.  While she is a 65 year old Grandmother, after 20 years of Ford 4.6 and GM 3800 ownership, she’s also used to lazy, effortless low end grunt helping her force her way through South Florida’s insane traffic, and I know the XTS has been hit hard in reviews for its combination of a peaky engine, high curb weight, and tall gearing.  Have I missed any other worthwhile options?  Thanks for your help.

Steve Says:

Every model you mentioned from the Lacrosse to the ES350 offers more overall interior space than the ol’ Grand. Though they all fall short of the Panther when it comes to the, “Why the hell would anyone buy a new one?” factor.

As for the ride, the Hyundai models ride a bit more taut than the others. So scratch those two.

The LaCrosse would be a good blue plate special car for her given her apparent apathy for quality interior components. But I would check to see if the interior design agrees with her first.

The ES350 is wonderful, but steep. If your Aunt has a liking for large Marge levels of interior space and a floaty ride, I would strike a deal for the outgoing prior gen Avalon. It also has a cost contained interior that is thankfully two clicks above the last Grand Marquis redesign, and you may be able to cut her a good deal.

Then again, the Shoney’s capital of the world may not offer much in the ways of discounts for a Camry-esque product.

I understand your kvetching about this expenditure. My own mom has that same Floridian ailment that is replacing a perfectly good car for no other reason than the changing of the tides. Every ten years I buy her a new Camry. Why? Beats me. However the depreciation works out to only about $150 a month. For what works out to $5 a day, I can deal with it.

I would focus on helping her with the selling of her car and the negotiation process, if she desires your help, and start with having her rent a Buick LaCrosse for the day. You may be able to find an Avalon for rent as well. This is Florida after all. Give her a couple days to make the decision, and remember to be a mensch when she picks that aqua blue model with the glossy white vinyl roof.

Sajeev Says:

I’m glad to hear she doesn’t like the 300: not because it’s a horrible vehicle, but because it doesn’t personify the values present in Panther Love.  Those proper American Sedans doing their job since the 1950s. That’s history, and that’s okay.  Now she needs to learn to compromise…somewhere.

Aside from a CPO Mercedes with some sort of thumpin’ V8 under the hood, there’s nothing in play that’s torquey enough to be a contender in the motor and styling department.  Make sure she test drives all the cars mentioned above, but there are two machines for me in this situation: the Toyota Avalon and the Camry LE. Yup, the LE.

Granted, I haven’t driven a new Camry yet, and I didn’t like the previous model (because we still had Panthers back then) but this is probably the best machine for a numb, floaty, and isolating cabin.  The Avalon? Perhaps better, but maybe not enough to justify the price.

I once grudgingly admitted that my last trip through NY, NJ and PA was far more pleasant because the (last gen) Camry LE (with those tall sidewalls) did a good job obliterating every bump on the road. While it wasn’t that unique blend of isolating-while-inspiring-confidence like RWD Panther Love, it worked. Aside from the lack of torque, the Camry might be the best bet here.  And I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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Monday Mileage Champion: Same As It Ever Was… And Will Be… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/monday-mileage-champion-same-as-it-ever-was-and-will-be/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/monday-mileage-champion-same-as-it-ever-was-and-will-be/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 19:59:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481596 Click here to view the embedded video.

Forbes recently published an article titled “Cars That Can Last 250,000 Miles (Or More).”

Unfortunately for the author and Forbes, measuring long-term quality of any new or late model is nearly impossible.

Most defects and cost cutting compromises don’t become glaringly obvious until well after the vehicle becomes a common site at the wholesale auto auctions I frequent. That dependable car of yesterday can easily become a rolling pit of the modern day regardless of what seemed to be the reality. 

So, I won’t pretend to know the crystal ball of reliability when it comes to any new car. However older used cars are a panacea of good data from actual owners, and to me that’s the only yardstick that truly matters. 

Every week another 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles get added to our Trade In Quality Index. This week 22 out of the top 25 vehicles in overall mileage fell into one of four categories.

  • Chevy/Ford Truck Or SUV
  • Ford Panther Platform
  • Honda Car
  • Toyota Everything

The other three vehicles that made the Top 25 this week were two Nissan Maximas and 1 Sentra. I do sometimes see a small blip of high mileage Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Grand Cherokees, Ford Tauruses with the Vulcan V6, not to mention a long line of GM vehicles that came with the 3.8 Liter V6 engine. 

Everything else pretty much either makes a brief appearance or two in the list (VW TDI’s, 10+ year old Volvos that have working odometers, pre-1996 Benzes), or is simply never in the running (Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, SAAB).

What makes a given vehicle last far longer than the norm? Or get curbed at the earliest opportunity? For most of us it comes down to three factors.

1) Ease of repair

2) Overall durability of parts

3) Brand perception

Now normally I would offer everyone here a full drill down of each one and how, let’s say, a 1994 Toyota Camry is infinitely simpler to maintain than a 1994 Mercedes S-Class. Or why a rear-wheel drive Volvo wagon is often seen as worthy of long-term investment, while an older Mitsubishi Galant is often curbed at a far earlier point in time.

But I have the flu. So please, feel free to either support or debunk those three factors. Your Uncle Floyd may have owned a full sized Dodge Van back in the day with a quintillion miles on it. That’s fair. However you may have a different conclusion as to why one model is truly better than another.

Do these three factors reflect why a given vehicle is kept over another? Or am I missing something else in the mix? As Linda Richman would say when she feels a bit tired and vehklempt, “Discuss!”

 

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Monday Mileage Champion: 2000 Ford Explorer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/monday-mileage-champion-2000-ford-explorer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/monday-mileage-champion-2000-ford-explorer/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462928

Every classic Mercedes enthusiast and their antique mother will brag about the longevity of their ride. Then you have the Camrys. The Accords. The Volvo 240/740/940 triplets. Silverados. F-150s. Crown Vics. Town Cars. And of course the VW TDI models.

They all will endure along with Cavalier cockroaches and the ever ready Rangers. But there is only one true ‘Exploder’ in the car business.

This Ford Explorer represents the absolute best of Fords work in the 1990′s. Tough, strong, durable, simple, comfortable. Even luxurious if you went for an Eddie Bauer or a maxed out XLT package.

I love these SUV’s. Every one I finance can endure the worst of owners if need be. I try to avoid that. But I’ve probably gone through over a dozen Explorers and Mountaineers over the last few years and every one of them has been tougher than a brick shithouse.

This one is as well. 321,534 miles of American quality will be going through the block sometime this week. There will be no announcements of transmission, engine, or any other mechanical issue when it is given the thirty seconds of attention at the auction.

 

Will it sell for $300 $500? $1000? Maybe even $1500? I have no idea. But feel free to guess. It has a cloth interior, alloy wheels, step rails and an engine somewhere between 3.0 Liters and 5.0 Liters. Guess which one, and while you’re at it, feel free to lament the loss of 91,000 Explorers during the Cash for Clunkers debacle.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The 300 Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-300-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-300-edition/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 15:48:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375893

For the last several years the 300C has been Chrysler’s band of Spartans, fighting off the apathy and irrelevance that has threatened to overwhelm the brand. And it didn’t just keep Chrysler clawing onto relevance, but it also revived an art form that was also circling the drain: the large, RWD American car. As Cadillac moved towards a sharply-tailored, Euro-fighter positioning, the 300 became the ride of choice for everyone from traditionalist suburbanites to ghetto CEOs. And now it’s back, and like its Charger cousin, the new 300 is a subtle, delicate thing compared to its rough-hewn, unabashedly Bentley-aping predecessor. But has a more sophisticated look actually improved the 300′s appeal? Will concessions to aerodynamics and originality inspire fans of the 300, or is progress a fundamental problem for a car that seems to live in the past? One thing is certain: Chrysler needs its 300 now as badly as it ever did. [Please surf over to Motor Trend for more non-official pictures]

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The WSJ Buries The Lede: Chrysler 300 “Un-Delayed,” Retail Sales Goals In Jeopardy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/the-wsj-buries-the-lede-chrysler-300-un-delayed-retail-sales-goals-in-jeopardy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/the-wsj-buries-the-lede-chrysler-300-un-delayed-retail-sales-goals-in-jeopardy/#comments Mon, 29 Mar 2010 14:44:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350636

If you believed Chrysler’s bailout “viability plan” [paging Commissar Orwell...], you knew the new Chrysler 300 would be released in 2010. It’s a bit cut off at the top of the image above, but you can clearly see the words “…and the New Chrysler 300 in 2010.” And if you believed Chrysler’s five year plan, released last November, you knew the refreshed 300 would go on sale in 2010. That’s why there’s a little refresh icon by the 300 in 2010. But if you believe the latest word from the Wall Street Journal [sub], you now know that the 2011 Chrysler 300 will be released in… 2010. And that’s news how?

According to the WSJ:

In hopes of spurring sales later in the year, Chrysler also is making plans to move up the U.S. launch of the restyled Chrysler 300 sedan by three to four months, to November from the first quarter of 2011, these people said.

In other words, the headline should be “Chrysler 300 Delayed Months Ago, Chrysler Now Denying Delay.” But of course that misses the point of the exercise entirely. The WSJ couches the 300 announcement in terms of Chrysler’s sales problems, as in the launch is being pushed up to address Chrysler’s sliding sales. Let’s take a look:

Chrysler is making the moves as it nears the one-year anniversary of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on April 30. As part of a strategy worked out by the U.S. government, Chrysler formed an alliance with Italy’s Fiat. In November, Sergio Marchionne, who serves as chief executive of both auto makers, outlined a turnaround plan that envisions Chrysler breaking even this year and generating profits in 2011.

The plan is based on a forecast that Chrysler’s U.S. sales will rise 18% this year, from 931,402 cars and light trucks in 2009 to 1.1 million in 2010. But in the year’s first two months, sales fell 3.2%, and analysts expect another decline when March sales are reported Thursday.

Chrysler sales this year through February fell to 141,592 vehicles, the lowest for the company in 30 years, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.

To hit its target, Chrysler must now sell at least 95,000 vehicles per month for the rest of the year. It has reached that level only once in the last 14 months.

So, it turns out that the real headline is “Chrysler Must Sell 95k Units Per Month To Survive.” Way to bury the lede, WSJ. Meanwhile, there are sales and there are sales, and though the news couldn’t be any worse, the WSJ just keeps on soft-pedaling:

half or more of the vehicles Chrysler sold in January and February were purchased by rental-car companies and other fleet customers, said people familiar with the matter. That suggests Chrysler is having some trouble winning over individuals who buy cars through dealerships… Mr. Marchionne’s plan envisions such retail sales making up more than 70% of the total, and lower-margin fleet sales less than 30%… A Chrysler spokesman, Gualberto Ranieri, said the company is sticking with its U.S. sales target. “The goal is for 1.1 million and Mr. Marchionne has never missed a target,” he said.

Well then, everything must be ginger-peachy. Sales will go up, retail share will go up, and the new 300 will be released early. Because Marchionne says so, and because a bunch of Vice Presidents made Powerpoint presentations that say so. Don’t question it.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: What About Hope? Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-what-about-hope-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-what-about-hope-edition/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 15:10:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338660 Spare some change?

More promises of Chryslerian change, this time from a UK-market minisite [via Autoblog]. Maybe the brand is planning on going back to its Rootes?

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