The Truth About Cars » chrysler 300c The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » chrysler 300c Chevrolet SS Only $7,525 Less Than A Corvette Tue, 04 Jun 2013 17:03:32 +0000 2014-chevrolet-ss

$44,470 will buy you a Chevrolet SS when it goes on sale later this year. That’s about $7,500 less than a base model, no-options C7 Corvette Stingray $5300 less than a Chrysler 300C SRT8 and $2995 less than a Dodge Charger SRT8. The SRT8 cars have more power, but the SS does have a couple advantages; it’s more subdued looking than the overwrought Charger.


Word around TTAC is that the 300C in SRT trim is a monster of a machine, and adding a supercharger makes it an unbeatable weapon when street racing lesser machines. Personally, I have a major issue with all of those cars; no manual transmission. I’d much rather take this gently used C6 Corvette Grand Sport for the same money. Because, like all real enthusiasts, I buy used. And I’m poor.

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Generation Why: Brampton’s Endangered Species Mon, 20 May 2013 14:28:38 +0000 photo (42)

Youth is apparently wasted on the young, but there are some days where I do feel old. Flat feet and many attempts at athletic endeavors have left me with the knees of someone twice my age, while genetics has caused my hairline to retreat like Philippe Pétain in the face of the German onslaught. I would be more easily at peace with this if I had some of the context and erudition that came along with age and maturity, but not even erudition can act as a substitute for the kind of knowledge that can only be earned through experience and acquired over time.

For someone like Thomas Kreutzer, the Chrysler 300C will represent the latest iteration in a long line of powerful, opulent ”letter series” cars that were responsible for the muscle car era. For me, the 300C represents the product that made Chrysler relevant again (at least in my eyes). No longer were they the purveyor of cheerio-and-snot splattered Town & Country minivans or the legions of severely geometric 1980′s sedans favored by my grandparents friend who refused to buy a German car.

Prior to this, the last time I was in a 300C was when I went for breakfast with an old neighbor of mine. Mr Lynett was 91 years old when he bought his 300C SRT8, and at that age, his C5 Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition was difficult to get in and out of, and the manual transmission was tiring on his bi-annual cross-country drives to California to visit his grandchildren. Having worked on the Manhattan Project, buying a foreign car was out of the question, but the SRT8 offered similar performance, an extra set of doors and was made in the right country – sort of. I’m not sure if Mr Lynett realized that the last great American sedan is actually made at Chrysler’s Brampton Assembly Plant, about 25 miles outside of Toronto.

I was hoping to get an SRT8 as an homage to Mr Lynett, but a 300C Luxury Series AWD was the sole V8 powered version available. I didn’t mind. As much of a speed freak as I am, I also have a strong pragmatic streak, and I would be hard pressed to justify jumping up to the current generation SRT8 on any grounds beyond feeling insecure about not buying the SRT version. The 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft on tap was beyond adequate for any situation one might encounter, and let’s face it, these are never ever going to see a racetrack. The 5-speed automatic is starting to show its age; shifts are slow and labored, and it starts to seem like the weak link in the entire powertrain package. It seems a little late for Chrysler to start using the ZF 8-speed gearbox on the 300C, but it would only serve to improve one of the car’s few dull spots.

From an aesthetic standpoint too, I much prefer the 300C over the SRT; the 6.4L car looks like it’s trying hard to be a Made In Canada America version of an M car. The 300C looks like the kind of car I’d drive if I made my living by billing for my time; understated enough that your clients won’t think they’re bring ripped off, but still something that feels special when you get behind the wheel.

The best American full-size cars were designed to eat up the highway miles with minimal fuss, and the 300C keeps that tradition alive. At 75 mph, the ride is smooth and silent, the Hemi V8 hums along below 2000 rpm. Chrysler’s Adaptive Cruise Control system, which can automatically adjust your speed based on the distance between you and the car ahead of you via radar, means even less work for the driver. The automatic slowing of the car was a bit spooky at first, it’s easy to get into a rhythm using the system. Set yourself up for a reasonable speed and keep your hands on the wheel. You can even avoid the automatic braking phenomenon by setting yourself up to pass people before the distance threshold is met.

With crossovers becoming the bodystyle of choice for family cars and long-distance crusiers, the full-size sedan is in danger of extinction. Sales have been in a freefall for the last few years, with fleet sales making up a heavy percentage of the segment’s overall volume. The latest rumors suggest that the Taurus will get the axe after this generation, thanks to slowing sales and a series of disastrous consumer clinics. Meanwhile, cars like the Maxima, Avalon and Azera continue to linger in obscurity, as the Pathfinders, Highlanders and Santa Fes of the world cannibalize their market share.

Ironically, the LX cars, with their iconoclastic rear-drive packaging and high-power engines have a pretty good chance of surviving. The global rear-drive platform being used in the Maserati Ghibli will likely underpin the next-generation of full-size Chrysler sedans and (hopefully) an Alfa Romeo product. Since Chrysler doesn’t have to worry so much about selling their cars in Europe or Asia, they can design the next Charger and 300 with American consumers in mind. Until these cars are CAFE’d out of existence, replaced by CUVs with small, turbocharged engines, Americans will be able to enjoy Canada’s best big rear-drive sedan for a while longer. And we’re richer for it.



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Death Warrant Signed For Aussie Rear Drive Sedans, Execution Called For 2016 Fri, 18 Jan 2013 13:30:23 +0000

The big, rear-drive Aussie sedans beloved by enthusiasts overseas aren’t gaining traction in the Australian marketplace, and the smart money is betting on the death of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

The reports come as Holden officials confirmed that  Australian production the next generation VF Commodore would run through 2016, with new product lines keeping Australian Holden factories online through 2022. One potential savoir for the Commodore could be production in America, under a common rear-drive platform shared with other GM brands, but that situation is a long shot at best. The two new products set to be built locally are a compact SUV and an unnamed front-drive sedan.

Meanwhile, the fate of the Ford Falcon appears to be all but sealed, with the “One Ford” strategy, the high Australian dollar and slumping sales conspiring to kill off the Falcon and its sister vehicle the Ford Territory SUV. While the Falcon was outsold by the Commodore by a 2:1 margin, the Mazda 3, Australia’s top-seller, outsold it by a 3:1 margin. Not even an Ecoboost 4-cylinder could help save the Falcon from irrelevance.

The irony is that Chrysler may be the only one left selling a big, powerful rear-drive sedan. The 300C SRT8 has become quite popular Down Under, and at this rate, it could be the last bloke standing in the segment.

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Chrysler Prepping Aussie-Spec 300C SRT8 Superleggera Fri, 21 Dec 2012 14:00:29 +0000

With stiff competition coming from both Holden’s HSV sedans and the Ford Falcon FPV, Chrysler is looking to make the 300C SRT8 more competitive by offering a decontented version, that’s actually a bit quicker than the standard-spec car.

The SRT currently retails for $66,000 AUD, about $2,000AUD more than an equivalent HSV Clubsport. The stripped-out version would sell for around $60,000. Features like the adjustable suspension, forged wheels and radar-based cruise control would be absent, but ultimately would have no effect on the car’s performance.

According to the Brisbane Times, Australia is SRT’s largest market outside the United States – the base versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon may be sliding down the sales charts, but Australians are still buying the hottest V8 versions. Even Mercedes AMG division reports that Australia is one of its best markets.

Perhaps if we lean of Ralph Gilles hard enough, we’ll finally get an Aussie muscle car here, in the form of the fat-free SRT8. I’m sure there are plenty of customers who would be more than willing to settle for a slightly less opulent SRT8, if it saved them six grand and a couple tenths in acceleration times.

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Review: Chrysler 300C SRT8 Sun, 04 Mar 2012 17:09:00 +0000

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

Exterior styling: appropriately American

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

Interior styling: not American enough

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

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

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

Features and functionality: ergonomics knows no borders

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

Engine: gloriously American

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

Transmission: too American even if it’s German

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

Fuel economy: too American

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

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

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

Handling: too American?

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

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

Pricing: appropriately American

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

Overall: honestly American

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

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

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

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