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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
real speed from its optional 340-hp Hemi V-8...goes like lubed lightning
Car and Driver
Both transmissions suffer some lag before downshifting
tight and true steering keeps you feeling in control
Kelley Blue Book
The 2008 Chrysler 300 is best savored in its V-8 forms, where huge power and crisp handling more than match its visual appeal.
Four engines are offered in the Chrysler 300 lineup. The standard engine on the rear-drive 300 is a 2.7-liter V-6 engine providing 178 hp. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard, but curiously, anti-lock brakes are not (though they should be). A 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission come with rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive Touring models and the Limited package. The 300C comes with the 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower HEMI V-8, five-speed automatic and either rear- or all-wheel drive. The romp-'em-stomp-'em SRT8 version of the 300C continues for '08, offering a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, sport suspension, 20-inch rims, and other upgrades.
Cars.com reports that the Chrysler 300 2008 "comes with a choice of two V-6s, while Hemi V-8 power comes in the 300C." Car and Driver notes that "real speed from its optional 340-hp Hemi V" makes the 300 SRT8 run "like lubed lightning," but adds that "V-6 models are less exciting." ConsumerGuide is in agreement here: "tepid acceleration with the 2.7 V6 supports Chrysler's slow 11.0-second 0-60 mph quote...the Touring's 3.5 V6 is adequately quick, even with AWD; Chrysler quotes 9.0 second 0-60. 300C is responsive at any speed; 6.3 second 0-60." SRT8 versions have been timed at about 5.5 seconds to 60 mph; stepping up to the 300 SRT8 nets drivers musclecar performance in the form of sub-14-second quarter-mile times and a top speed of over 150 mph.
Cars.com reports that the Chrysler 300 2008 V-6 model "teams with a four-speed automatic transmission," while "other models get a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic." ConsumerGuide notes "both transmissions suffer some lag before downshifting, but the 5-speed's manual shift gate helps."
The 300 SRT8 is thirsty, to be sure; Car and Driver comments "fuel disappears fast," but notes that "when not needed for saving time, four of the Hemi's cylinders switch off seamlessly to save fuel, [which] boosts fuel economy 10 percent on the EPA city cycle." Those EPA estimates for the Chrysler 300 2008 are 14/20 mpg for the less powerful V-8 and 18/26 mpg for the V-6.
On the road, the 2008 Chrysler 300 delivers a good driving experience from its rear-wheel-drive chassis. For Chrysler, 2008 models differ considerably in ride comfort. Base, Touring, and Limited 300 editions offer a softer ride. The 300C and the 300 SRT8 target the performance enthusiasts with their high-horsepower HEMI engines and stiffer suspensions.
Out on the open road, Car and Driver reports that the 2008 Chrysler 300 "swallows both freeways and switchbacks with precise steering and good body control" and "turns like a dancing debutante" but notes a "slightly crusty suspension." ConsumerGuide finds that "the 300's ride is generally smooth, though some of our testers complain of annoying jiggling on rippled freeways," though "ride is less composed on AWD models, with sharp pounding over road imperfections." Kelley Blue Book notes that the 2008 Chrysler 300 suspension "doesn't readily evoke that of a European sport sedan, but tight and true steering keeps you feeling in control of what is admittedly a large vehicle." ForbesAutos reports that "handling is decent for this size of vehicle, and the ride is smooth."
Despite some quibbles from reviewers, it’s clear that the 2008 Chrysler 300 is a truly impressive performer in V-8 form.