By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
The 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan is one of the few remaining big, powerful, rear-wheel-drive American luxury sedans, a layout that was once the hallmark of Detroit's Big Three. But, unlike those early giants, this full-size 4-door can handle like a German sport sedan, accelerate like a hyped-up muscle machine, and impress the neighbors as if it cost twice the price. Whereas the last-generation Chrysler 300 had a decidedly gangster feel to it, the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan has moved uptown, showing softer edges and more tasteful use of chrome trim. The tall doors and narrow windows are still in place, although there is more glass in the rear for improved visibility. However, when riding on 20-inch wheels and clad in gloss black paint, the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan still lets its tough persona shine through. The new standard Pentastar V6 engine is brilliant, as are the two Hemi V8 engines offered with the 300C and the all-new high-performance 300 SRT8.
If you demand your car's interior be as hushed as a library at midnight, the 2012 Chrysler 300 should be at the top of your car shopping list. Among its competitors, including the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse, only the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan offers the superior handling that comes from a rear-drive platform.
While front-wheel drive is better in the snow than rear drive, the 2012 Chrysler 300 does offer all-wheel drive (AWD) on both the V6 and V8 models. Unfortunately, you'll end up paying a lot more than a comparable front-drive competitor and you'll see your gas mileage drop a bit.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 receives a new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission as well as new S letter series and Luxury Series trim levels. The new transmission is available on the V6 Limited, 300S and AWD models, with the S trim getting a "Sport" shift manual mode. Versions of the Chrysler 300 with the V8 get a new mesh grille, while the "Beats by Dr. Dre" audio system is offered on more models. Model-year 2012 also marks the return of the 300 SRT8, featuring a 6.4-liter Hemi V8, 2-mode adaptive damping suspension and 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system.
Driving Impressions With its powerful V6 and V8 engines, rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform and performance-tuned suspension, the 2012 Chrysler 300 is arguably the best-handling sedan in the segment (along with its Chrysler...sibling, the Dodge Charger). But, while we are in love with the car's acceleration and handling, we've also observed that the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan doesn't return the road feel and steering feedback associated with high-performance sedans. We don't think this will bother most owners, as a car like the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan is built more for cruising 'cross country than carving up twisting back roads. If performance is your intention, however, the powerful new 300 SRT8 is the sedan you'll want. Its 470-horsepower Hemi V8 can rocket it to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 175 mph. You'll sacrifice some ride comfort and quiet, but the trade-off for the blistering performance the SRT8 offers is something we figure most enthusiasts can accept. The S and Limited trim levels offer interiors as quiet as a Lexus LS 460, or so Chrysler claims, and seemingly as luxurious as an Audi A6. Those who seek the thrill of acceleration will likely choose the Hemi V8 but, in truth, the standard Pentastar V6 is more than adequate in this car, delivering excellent fuel economy and smooth, quiet operation.
The Big Screen
The 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan's big 8.4-inch view screen features clear, easy to read and operate controls for the audio and available navigation. The UConnect Touch infotainment system allows control of an iPod via the steering-wheel remotes or voice activation and features hands-free texting. The available navigation radio also features voice activation, as well as maps by Garmin.
Quiet Highway Ride
The 2012 Chrysler 300 offers a bunch of tech-based features worth highlighting, but the most memorable first impression is the remarkably quiet cabin.
2011 Chrysler 300 Details
Compared to the last-generation 300, the 2012 sedan's interior is the difference between an army surplus cot and a goose-down feather bed. Gone are the drab gray plastics and hard surfaces, replaced by warm tones, padded armrest and console, and a dazzling array of back-lit instrumentation. If you like thick-rimmed steering wheels, you'll be happy to find in the new Chrysler 300 one of the world's thickest. The flagship 300C Luxury Series models are even more luxurious, offering such items as a leather-stitched dash cap, 2-tone leather seating, and heated and cooling 12-way power seats. Passenger comfort is paramount for the Chrysler 300, which offers generous legroom for both front and rear passengers, but the trade-off is a rather small trunk.Exterior
There is still widespread disagreement amongst our editors about the 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan's new grille. The flat-nose front end and horizontal grille stand in stark contrast to the previous model's protruding egg-crate grille, but the look is growing on us and Chrysler offers a number of aftermarket grilles as well. The familiar 300 silhouette is still easily recognizable, but there is a softer, more mature feel to the design. Intricate details, such as the vertical crease in the rear tail lamps, the chrome air-intake surrounds, and LED daytime running lamps speak to the Chrysler 300's luxury status. The 300 SRT8 makes no such claim, displaying a more monochrome exterior with low ground effects and 7-spoke lightweight forged aluminum wheels. But even the base 300 gets the star treatment, with attractive paint and chrome trim, 17-inch wheels and a host of available upgrades.
The entry-priced 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan is a lot of car for the money, featuring keyless entry and start, a big 8.4-inch touchscreen with climate and music controls, USB/iPod connectivity, dual-zone auto climate control, power driver's seat, one-touch up/down windows all around and a full complement of active and passive safety features. Bluetooth phone connectivity is among the few glaring omissions from the standard equipment list.
In addition to the 363-horsepower V8 engine, all-wheel drive, a navigation system and leather seats, a Chrysler 300C AWD loaded with all the options will include an impressive list of high-tech luxuries: Radar-based adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning systems up front, rear cross-path sensors out back, and blind-spot monitoring to help out on the side. In-cabin highlights include heated/cooled cup holders and a 900-watt, 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system.
The 2012 Chrysler 300's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is the most powerful base engine in the category. The Hemi V8 has just slightly less horsepower than the Ford Taurus' twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, but a substantially larger amount of torque. The SRT8's 6.4-liter monster pumps out 470 horsepower, more than anything in this class. On Limited, S and AWD V6 trims a new 8-speed ZF transmission helps boost fuel economy figures to best in class. All other models employ a 5-speed automatic.
292 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (RWD, 5-speed automatic), 19/31 (RWD, 8-speed automatic), 18/27 (AWD)
363 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
394 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25 (RWD), 15/23 (AWD)
465 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
465 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25
By Jim on Saturday, November 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling and ride, roomy. Excellent features"
Cons: "Only one, the key fob and no way to start the car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Changed battery in key fob and will not work. alarm goes off upon unlocking car with key, car computer will not recognize the key fob and car will not start. Alarm system works very well, as it sounded off and continued for several minutes. Otherwise, the car is all I wanted. If this one glitch were not present, it would be a 10. However, if the car won't start????"
26 people out of 49 found this review helpful
By Don on Monday, November 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, technology, power and fun to drive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the drive of this car and the comfort. I have the V8 and it has plenty of power and speed. When I need the hemi to give me some get up and go, there is plenty. The AWD keeps me firmly on the road with no slipping. With a 110 mile round trip commute, I needed a comfortable car with entertainment and comfort. I suffer chronic back pain and needed heated seats and lumbar support. This offered all of this and more. I test drove a Cadillac, Audi, Lexis and Acura and the 300 C was the best car for the dollar."
17 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Chas on Sunday, November 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very good value for the price."
Cons: "None so far."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in a very loaded 2008 Cadillac DTS for my new Chrysler 300C. My friends gave me somewhat of a hard time since I had owned Cadillac's my entire life. (Driving nearly 6 decades.) I really, really like the 300. The ride is better than the DTS and the interior is quieter. I actually ride the Alpine sound system better than the Bose. The exterior is very sleek whereas the DTS looks kind of stodgy. The cornering is better and steering tighter. The Garmin navigation is more user friendly than GM's navigation system. I have no regrets about switching to the Chrysler product. I feel like they really got it right with look, fit, finish, ride, and design outside and inside. The last Chrysler I owned was a 1969 Imperial. I love driving this car and would recommend it to anyone."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Nat002 on Thursday, November 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best Value, Great Fuel for V8, Excellent Ride"
Cons: "Needs a joystick like BMW/Lexus"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My daily driver was a RAM 1500 with the HEMI. I initially wanted the Charger. Then I started looking at a used Cadillac CTS V6 for fuel mileage. A used CTS was about $29,000. My new 2013 300C Luxury w/HEMI was $32,000. Great, Great Value. This car has everything, too many options to name. Excellent safety features. Most of all, I love the Hot/Cold cup holders. Great ride highway/city. Fuel mileage is like any other brand’s V6, but with HEMI power. My older brother bragged about his Cadillac. When he saw my 300C, all he could say was OH WOW, you got me. Enough said! My buddy with the Infinite M37, bought a Lexus to compete with me."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Jeff on Thursday, October 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,990overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The 300 replaced an Audi A8L. I was surprised at how much car we got for the price - comfortable interior, leather seats, a responsive 6 cylinder engine that gets excellent gas mileage, and a unique exterior (not for everyone). It has good zip on the city streets, and on the highway, hills are no problem. The only downside is that it does rapidly depreciate."
27 people out of 37 found this review helpful
By Jack on Friday, October 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Real value, best in segment."
Cons: "Don't like the front seat as well as the 2006 300C"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Terrific vehicle and a bargain compared to other cars in this segment. This is a 300C Hemi with AWD. Excellent mileage and power, terrific handling, great in winter snow/ice. No problems at all at 30K and would buy another. This is my second 300C the first being a 2006. Great car with no problems and gave me great service hence the 2013. Couldn't be happier, what a car."
17 people out of 34 found this review helpful