Chrysler made a splash with the bold 300 full-size sedan back in 2005, but the competition has stepped up its game in this segment. Chrysler tells us it's ready for the new Hyundai Azera, Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus with its new 300 featuring new powertrains and a revised design. In our latest video road test we see if the new 300 lives up to Chrysler's promises.
The first thing you'll notice on the exterior of the new 300 is how the styling has been softened and somewhat toned down over the previous generation. While it's still bold, it's somewhat muted now, and looks more luxurious. The greenhouse features more glass than the previous generation, and all models feature projector headlights with LED eyeliner as jewelry.
Inside the Chrysler has ditched the hard plastic and sharp edges for soft-touch materials. The climate and audio controls feature physical buttons and are easy to reach from both the driver and passenger seat.
The EPA rates the V-6 powertrain at 19 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel drive form and 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive. Step up to the HEMI V-8 and the ratings drop to 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with rear-wheel drive, and adding all-wheel drive takes those down to 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission is exactly what this car needed to make the V-6 a better alternative to the powerful V-8. Handling's never been an issue. While the 300 doesn't feel or drive small, it has big-car charm without the mushy, pitchy, body motions, and the steering is secure on center.
On the safety front, the 300 was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. It features all the usual airbags and electronic traction controls. Higher trim models have a safety package that adds lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and a forward collision warning system, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control. Unfortunately this Bluetooth system isn't standard on the base 300 and that's a shame, as we feel it's a safety item.
Our test car was a relatively rare base model, with a price tag around $28,000. An 8.4-inch LCD screen is standard. You'll notice our car has a 4.3-inch screen--as a result of supply shortages after Japan's 2011 earthquake. If you see a 2012 Chrysler 300 with a small screen, it's in the same boat--and it earned the buyer a $1000 credit against the sticker price. Stepping up to the HEMI V-8 brings you to just over $38,000; go full out with the SRT8 model and you'll see a sticker price of nearly $49,000.
What's the bottom line? The Chrysler 300 is more mature than ever with classic good looks, and a better performer thanks to updated powertrains.