- Matured styling that's still a standout
- Smooth, fuel-efficient V-6
- Responsive eight-speed automatic
- Hemi's muscle-car attitude
- Upscale interior look and feel
- Five-speed auto on Hemi models
- Dash plastics attract dust
- Ersatz Bentley Continental look is gone
The image-building 2013 Chrysler 300 is handsome and classy, as well as a proper luxury car or a scorching muscle sedan.
The 300 and 300C are the flagship models of the Chrysler lineup, and they're more than just the largest sedans from the automaker. With suave sheetmetal, well-rounded performance even with the base engine, and an impressive level of technology and luxury features, these rear-wheel-drive sedans are arguably better than the sum of their parts and feel more like high-end luxury models.
Visually, the 300 sedans are have always hit a sweet spot between modern, ornate, and traditional. In any case, the 2013 Chrysler 300 remains a swaggering hulk of a sedan. Last year's redesign brought a somewhat smoother, less broad-shouldered look, with the cartoonish grille and brash details toned down, too. Inside, the look became smoother and richer, with regrouped controls and an LCD touchscreen filling the middle of the dash; there's also a bit more metallic trim to provide framing, while a carbon-fiber look or naturally finished wood for trims sets a modern, elegant tone.
Base V-6 versions of the Chrysler 300 perform well enough to satisfy anyone who mainly looks to the 300 for its styling and luxury. The 292-horsepower version of the company's Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth, strong, and responsive with the eight-speed automatic that's included in most versions. Times to 60 mmph land at around eight seconds, while highway fuel economy is up to 31 miles per gallon--extraordinary for a large sedan in this class. Also for 2013 on the step-up 300S, the V-6 gets a cold-air intake and performance exhaust making it good for 300 hp.
For some, the real appeal for the 300 will be in the brash V-8 powertrains in the 300S and 300C, as well as the top-performance SRT8. The 300S and 300C are offered with a 363-hp, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and a five-speed automatic. While the V-6 is smooth and luxury-car-like, the Hemi is more aggressive and muscle-car-like in sound and responsiveness. These models can get to 60 mph in less than six seconds, but the SR8 can get there in less than five seconds with its 470-hp, 6.4-liter V-8. A NASCAR-like throb completes the sensory experience in the SR8.
The 300 doesn't drive or feel small at all, but it has a big-car charm without the usual body roll and mushy, pitchy body motions. As you might guess, 300 models move up the ladder from more comfort-oriented to firm and sport-sedan-like as you step up in engine performance. All models have an absorbent ride and responsive electrohydraulic steering, but as you move up to the 20-inch wheels in some of the models there's a bit more ride harshness. SRT8 models get an adaptive damping system with normal and sport modes, which helps.
You'll find the 300 to be one of the more spacious sedans in its class, even though it doesn't quite have the sprawl-out space of a Toyota Avalon. In front, the seats are well bolstered, and there's plenty of headroom even if you get the sunroof. Back seats tend to be a little tight on legroom, although they're comfortable enough for two adults. Trunk space is quite good, too. These current versions of the 300 don't feel quite as claustrophobic as the previous version, due to thinner pillars and a little more side glass, so visibility is a bit better, too.
Safety-wise, the 300 includes all the usual electronic controls and airbags; Hill Start Assist, Rain Brake Support, and Ready Alert Braking are also included. On higher trims, you can get a SafetyTec option package that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a forward-collision warning system, rear fog lamps, and power-folding exterior mirrors.
Even the base 300 includes power windows, locks and mirrors; LED daytime running lights; pushbutton start and keyless entry; a power driver seat; cloth upholstery; dual-zone climate control; satellite radio; a USB port; and an 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen display. Step up to the 300S and you get leather front seats; shift paddles; piano black trim; and performance tires. Premium leather, natural wood trim, power-adjustable pedals, and a heated steering wheel all contribute to the top-lux feel of the 300C, which also includes navigation--and the Garmin-based touch-screen nav system includes real-time traffic info and has been enhanced for 2013. On top of all their performance upgrades, SRT8s get carbon-fiber trim; heated and ventilated front seats; and a layer of instrumentation in its navigation system that displays performance stats like acceleration times and lateral grip.
New for 2013 is a Beats by Dr. Dre premium audio system, offering a 12-channel amp, proprietary equalization, and trunk-mounted subwoofer. Also, a special Chrysler 300 Glacier model brings Gloss Black mirrors, Black Chrome grille blades, special eight-spoke Satin Carbon-finish aluminum wheels and special paint hues, along with Piano black interior finishes, special upholstery with leather-wrapped bolsters and French seams, and steering-wheel paddles with a Sport mode.