Chrysler 300S offers unique style for full-size sedan
By JOHN STEIN Automotive Editor September 4, 2012 3:54PM
2013 CHRYSLER 300S
ENGINE: 292-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: eight-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: rear-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 19 city/31 highway
BASE PRICE: $33,170
AS TESTED: $40,460
Updated: November 2, 2012 10:09AM
As Chrysler’s flagship sedan, the 2012 300 represents the very best the Detroit manufacturer can deliver in this full-size sedan segment.
Not surprisingly, the Chrysler 300 is a roomy sedan with a classy feel and plenty of identity to make it noticeable and desirable among a virtual sea of competition that includes the Buick LaCrosse, the Toyota Avalon and the upscale Lincoln MKS.
I recently tested the Chrysler 300S, which at a base price of $33,170 was a worthy opponent for the aforementioned rivals as well as a value in many regards when you compare standard equipment, the interior and the new eight-speed automatic transmission. Take a look at the shallow pool of eight-speeds and then check the suggested prices; this Chrysler offers a base price many can afford.
While my Chrysler 300S tester (the S is the newest trim level) did not have the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 offered in the 300C, it did offer the all-new 3.6-liter V-6 — it is big — and the new eight-speed automatic transmission. It is available for both rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive models.
On the outside, the 300S has attitude and it struts its stuff by making impressions with bold expressions of bling. This 300S has a distinctive urban feel inside and out, and the huge 20-inch alloy rims and blacked-out front grille make for a brash statement. Many consumers go for after-market accentuations that might come close to delivering what the 300S delivers off the line.
On the inside, the cabin is a cozy, quiet space — until the Chrysler-exclusive Beats-branded 522-watt audio system is engaged. Emblazoned on the dash, the signature “B” logo for the sound system not-so-subtly announces this top-of-the-line audio system tuned by the Dr. Dre. The specialized speakers not only allow you to hear the music — but you get to feel it, too.
My 300S tester featured an upgrade luxury group package ($3,250) that included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated leather-trimmed bucket seats with eight- and four-way power adjustments and memory settings, and additional four-way lumbar support. Second-row seats get heat as well.
I really enjoyed the blue-illuminated gauges and the convenience of the big LCD touch screen in the center of the dash. Audio and climate controls are simple and easy to use, but give me some real buttons outside the touch screen for heated interior features.
Cabin space is roomy for both front and rear passengers. The presence of soft-touch plastic surfaces was appreciated; techy accents on the dashboard, doors and center console looked cool and suited this 300S.
Sightlines for the driver are excellent, though not the same can be said for the highly irritating E-shifter, which confuses fashion for function. The E-shifter controls the transmission and it was a weeklong nightmare as I found myself unintentionally revving the engine in neutral and accidentally putting the car in park.
While the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 is not new for 2012, the 292 horsepower and accompanying 260 pound-feet of torque easily move this big sedan wherever you point it. Fuel economy numbers arrive at 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway, which is better than last year but still equates to painful refills at the gas station.
I found the eight-speed shifted quickly on demand. Dropping the sedan into sport mode resulted in some faster shifts, but nothing overwhelming. Overall, the ride is very encompassing for a solo passenger or a full carload. I had the chance to take the 300S on a long road trip and it glided from destination to destination across some unforgiving highways systems.
The 300S incorporates a bit of individual style along with some outstanding drive characteristics into a full-size sedan. Sure, the HEMI is king, but the V-6 300S, and its $40,460 landing price, delivers fuel economy and plenty of performance for the majority of consumers.
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