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 Dugan on Saturday, July 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,012overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very well equiped; great performance"
Cons: "Interior trim pieces coming loose, needs 6 speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very pleasurable performance and luxury at a price that knocks the sox of the imports. Have had not a single mechanical repair in 40,000 miles, though the optional performance tires are good for only about 25,000 miles. My only problem has been with the interior carbon fiber trim separating from the leather. Most everyone who sees the car finds it to be stylish, especially with the black chrome package."
16 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By 300s on Saturday, July 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel mileage.Fit and Finish"
Cons: "Little less road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My 2012 300s has been a very good car and have had no problems in the 40,000 miles I have driven it. I drive in Dallas stop and go traffic and consistently get 25 to 27 mpg. The pentastar V6 is so smooth that you'll have to look at the tach to see if it is running. The 8 speed transmission shifts so smooth that it's hard to tell that it's changing gears.With 8 gears they have the ratios so close that the rpm doesn't drop much between gear changes and the engine will rapidly buzz up to the 6500 rpm redline so smoothly. The Beats audio my car is equipped with is awesome.If you want to you can rattle the windows with the trunk mounted subwoofer. Chrysler did a great job on the interior.Fit and finish is top notch. About the only negative I can say is maybe road noise through the tires could be a little less.I attribute this to the 20" wheels with low profile tires.Car came equipped with Firestone Firehawk tires wich have held up good but maybe some Michelins might be a little quieter ?"
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Katie on Thursday, July 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, extremely comfortable, very reliable"
Cons: "Haven't found any."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has to be my favorite car of all that I have owned. And I have owned nice cars, I.e. Cadillac, Lincoln Town Car, etc. the Chrysler 300 tops them all! It's beautiful, reliable, the ride is so smooth and comfortable!"
By Bacos35 on Monday, June 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, Value, Ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've been a long time truck driver (Silverado & Avalanche) and with the price of gas I decided to move to a full size car. After looking at the options I loved the looks and driving feel of the Chrysler 300. The 8.4" nav screen and 8 speed transmission really helps out on the MPG which was a nice change from everything in its class. I have just over 8300 miles on my 13 300S and currently I’m getting 26.8 MPG with 70/30% highway to city driving. I've tried like heck to find faults with this car and honestly I can't. The most common knock on this car is the amount of black in the interior however I like it. Make no mistake this is no sports sedan but with 300 hp and the 8 speed trans it has no problem in the go department. On the highway it chews the miles in comfort all the while getting close to 33mpg. Great car not for the money but period."
22 people out of 37 found this review helpful
By Steve on Saturday, June 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive. Great Navigation (Garmin). Comfort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought every possible option offered, but chose the V-6 with 8 speed transmission for maximized mileage. Great pickup with immediate response to accelerator. Mileage has been average 26 mph for local driving in this mountainous area where I live. Have achieved 31.3 mpg on interstate travel. I have owned one other Chrysler (1998) previously and drove for over 200,000 miles with no repairs other than routine, so that prompted my purchase of this vehicle. I have never been disappointed. I fully expect my next purchase will be another 300."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Retired on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Arrractive exterior with v. good performance."
Cons: "Ride and noise level need improvement. Seats hard"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Bought in early 2013 and overall assessment is this is a very fine car but could stand improvement in ride and noise level. Excellent power and mileage with V6 engine and 8 speed transmission. Routine mpg of 30+ on highway and 25+ in city. Interior with options included are very good with exception of seats that are too hard after several hours of riding."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful