- Incomparably cool yet elegant styling
- Classy interior feel
- Features galore
- Available powerful V-8 engines
- Choppy, stiff ride
- Rear legroom is scarce
- ABS is optional
- V-8s guzzle gas
Still turning heads after five years on the road, the 2009 Chrysler 300 is one of the kings of cool in the large sedan market.
The 2009 Chrysler 300 is the type of vehicle once very common in the U.S. market: a full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by V-6 or V-8 engines. Now that Ford is in the process of phasing out the ancient Crown Victoria and its sibling vehicles, the Chrysler 300 and closely related Dodge Charger remain the only options for shoppers wanting this type of vehicle.
The 300’s styling struck out in a new direction with its 2005 debut, and since then its rather boxy but low look has aged well. It’s still a head-turner—something that can't be said of most other big sedan competitors.
Base Chrysler 300 models come with a 2.7-liter V-6 that pumps out 178 horsepower. These versions are equipped with a standard four-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the Chrysler 300 Touring brings a 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 250 hp through a five-speed transmission, with both rear- and all-wheel drive available. The Chrysler 300C comes with a standard HEMI V-8 that now makes 359 hp, up 19 hp over last year, while the top-of-the-line SRT8 trim offers an impressive 425-hp 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, along with a sport suspension, 20-inch rims, and other upgrades.
There are also all-wheel-drive versions of the 300 and 300C. This year, a new active-transfer case disconnects the front axle for better fuel economy and performance. Also new for 2009 is a retuned suspension that should make the ride more acceptable for those with long commutes.
The driving experience in the 2009 Chrysler 300 varies considerably from model to model. Base, Touring, and Limited 300 editions offer a softer ride. The 300C and the 300 SRT8 target the performance enthusiasts with high-horsepower HEMI engines and stiffer suspensions. Stepping up to the 300 SRT8 nets drivers muscle-car performance in the form of sub-14-second quarter-mile times and a top speed of over 150 mph.
The 300 received an interior update for last year, and throughout the cabin, materials look and feel appreciably better than in Chrysler’s smaller cars. You'll note upscale touches everywhere, from the chrome accents to the soft-opening glove box. It does take a while to get used to the narrow greenhouse, but once acclimated, drivers don't mind their view to the outside.
The 2009 Chrysler 300 is disappointing with respect to safety features and protection. Bargain-priced base 300 models lack standard anti-lock brakes; they’re only available as a $1,025 option package that includes electronic stability control. And side airbags remain optional on the entire lineup—even the $46,000 SRT8—at a time when they’re almost universally standard in this class of vehicle. With or without them, crash scores haven’t been stellar.
Infotainment and technology options are plentiful in the 300. They include a Bluetooth connection that features iPod connectivity, a six-disc changer, a MyGIG audio entertainment system, a Boston Acoustics speaker package, Sirius Backseat TV, remote start, and adaptive cruise control.