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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Both RWD and AWD 300Cs are responsive at any speed
Smart all-wheel-drive system
SRT8 takes performance a big step further
A number of different trim levels are available for the 300, and they each bring a different driving experience. Performance-wise, the 2010 Chrysler 300 engine lineup ranges from the adequate-but-docile V-6 variants to the snarling, V-8-powered beast that is the 2010 Chrysler 300 SRT8 edition.
The base 2010 Chrysler 300 models come standard 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 higher-spec Chrysler 300C comes with a standard HEMI V-8 that now makes 360 hp, 19 hp more than the 2008 model, while the top-of-the-line SRT8 trim offers an impressive 425-hp 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, along with sports suspension, 20-inch rims, and a number of other upgrades. There are also all-wheel-drive versions of the 300 and 300C.
In total, Edmunds observes, the Chrysler 300 is available with four different engines, which include a "2.7-liter V6 that produces 178 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque," while a "3.5-liter V6 good for 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque" comes on the Touring and Limited trims. Opting for either the Chrysler 300C or SRT8 trim levels brings two extra cylinders and a significant power boost into the fold. ConsumerGuide reports that the "300C uses a 5.7-liter version" of Chrysler's "Hemi V8 with 359 hp,” while the "SRT8 uses a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 with 425 hp."
With such varying engines, driving impressions also differ depending on how much power hums under that long hood, with Cars.com claiming that the "3.5-liter V-6 delivers adequate power for mountainous terrain, but no true surplus," while "performance is almost as appealing with the 2.7-liter V-6." On the HEMI-powered Chrysler 300C model, Kelley Blue Book raves about the "impressive blend of power and grace" afforded by the V-8, while ConsumerGuide reports that the "brawny SRT8 leaps off the line and has a surplus of power at any speed." Considering the 300’s weight, the fact that the SRT8 models can complete the sprint to 62 mph in just 5.5 seconds is astonishing; the SRT8 will also lap the quarter-mile in under 14 seconds and get you over 150 mph if you find a long enough stretch of road to push it.
Opting for the V-8 options, however, will leave your wallet significantly lighter anytime you fill up for gas. Like the big domestic sedans of old, the 2010 Chrysler 300 is one thirsty vehicle. ConsumerGuide rates the V-8s below the class average for fuel economy, noting that a "test SRT8 averaged 15.5 [mpg]" and "300s with the 3.5 V-6 averaged 19.5 mpg in rear-drive form." According to the official EPA estimates, the 5.7-liter engine gets only 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway when matched with AWD.
While the V-8 engines get rave reviews from journalists, TheCarConnection.com has disappointing news for those who enjoy shifting gears themselves—once again, Chrysler will not be offering a manual variant of the 300. According to ConsumerGuide, the Chrysler 300 "LX and rear-drive Touring and Limited have a four-speed automatic transmission [and] all others use a five-speed automatic." While there are new automatic transmissions that are exceptional at what they do on the market, the fact that a four-speed is standard on the lower trims and there's no six-speed for the SRT8 is not exactly good news. ConsumerGuide notes "both transmissions suffer some lag before downshifting, but the five-speed's manual shift gate helps." In terms of drive wheels, Edmunds states that the "Chrysler 300 LX is only available with rear-wheel drive," while "all-wheel drive is optional" for the Touring, Limited, and 300C trims.
Last year saw the introduction of a new active-transfer case that disconnects the front axle for better fuel economy and performance, and this feature returns for 2010.
On the road, the 2010 Chrysler 300 is no slouch, combining a smooth ride with some serious handling capabilities, especially on the top-end models that feature stiffer suspension setups. Cars.com says to "expect a confident feel through winding roads" and notes that "performance in snow and ice is amazing because of the Electronic Stability Program." ConsumerGuide contends that the 2010 Chrysler 300's "ride is generally smooth" and even "impressively smooth" on the SRT8, "despite 20-inch tires and performance suspension tuning." Kelley Blue Book claims that "the 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." Base, Touring, and Limited 300 editions offer a softer ride, thanks to the more commuter-friendly suspension, so again, the driving experience varies quite a bit.
With all that heft and power, the Chrysler’s brakes will always have to be top-notch to satisfy the car’s needs. ConsumerGuide says "offer solid stopping power but suffer from occasional mushiness,” suggesting that the brakes are adequate, but could be improved.
With engines ranging from an economical V-6 to large-displacement V-8s—plus the suspension and brakes to match—you can find the performance you want from the 2010 Chrysler 300 or 300C model of your choice.