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Chrysler 300 Limited V6 2012 review

Chrysler is on a product charge and the 300 is its likeable leader.
EXPERT RATING
7

This is how to drive around feeling like you're in a rap video clip. The new Chrysler 300 (the C is used on the mid-spec models but is absent from the entry-level car and the SRT8) has taken a big step forward mechanically but retained some of the head-turning gangsta looks that set it apart from the rest of the blancmange large car segment.

The big Yank - now with Italian masters - has waded back into the big-car battle with plenty in its arsenal, including the new 3.6-litre V6 engine hooked up to an eight-speed ZF auto.

Value

The 300 Limited starts off with pricing on its side - at $43,000, its features list is well up to the task of taking on the locals. Cloth trimmed power-adjustable (front) seats, a 60/40 splitfold rear seat, satnav, 18in alloy wheels, an Alpine sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise and trip computer controls and dual zone climate control with rear vents.

There's also keyless entry and ignition, three 12-volt outlets, automatic bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, heated and folding exterior mirrors, a tyre pressure monitoring display, parking sensors and a reversing camera. Optional on this base model (but fitted to the test car) is the Garmin satnav part of the sound system.

Technology

The new petrol V6 engine has been heralded for its efforts in other Chrysler Group products and nothing changes here. The smooth, quiet and powerful 3.6-litre unit has dual overhead camshafts and variable valve timing producing 210kW and 340Nm - Chrysler claims 13.9l/100km around town and 6.7l/100km in highway driving from the 72-litre tank.

An overall combined cycle number of 9.4 litres per 100km wasn't quite reflected by the trip computer - we finished our predominantly metropolitan time in the 300 with a 12l/100km figure - not thirsty enough to warrant the massive $5000 price premium for the more frugal diesel.

While some of the numbers stack up well against the locals, the Chrysler's trump card is its eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which gives it long legs on the open road. The only drawback to the slick and clever auto is the shifter - an electronic link to the transmission that requires a deft touch to avoid sliding past Reverse and into Park. The big sedan feels tighter and stronger than its predecessor, with increased use of high-strength steel in the body structure.

Design

It's bold, squared-off and handsome - the new 300 is being marketed with phrases like timeless and elegant; it is more elegant in some ways than its predecessor, but maintains the different look that sets it apart from the repmobiles on our roads.

This is a big beasty, measuring just over 5 metres long, and 1.9m wide, but 1.5m tall, with a 3.1m wheelbase - and you'll need long arms to reach fully-open doors from a seated position. Plenty of chrome bits, dual exhausts and bling headlights all give it a distinctive look, although more than a few people miss the old Bentley-esque grille.

The cabin is comfortable and roomy, without being as cavernous as you might expect within - four adults are easily accommodated and boot space of 462 litres will carry their gear, although the wheel arches intrude on the load space.

Safety

While there's no NCAP rating on the big sedan yet, the 300 has stability and traction control, rain brake support (which uses slight pad pressure to dry the brakes when wipers are on), ready-alert braking (that moves brake pads closer to the disc face for quicker brake response if there's a sharp step off the accelerator pedal), hill start assist and anti-lock brakes.

There are (thankfully, given the dimensions and the high rump) front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Airbags number seven in total - dual front and front-side air bags, a driver's knee air bag and full-length curtain airbags. In its US homeland, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety proffers a "good" crash rating and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded it five stars.

Driving

Don't buy one of these if you're an introvert, as it is still a head-turner, evidence that Aussies still like large cars, even if they're not buying as many. This is a large machine and certainly feels tauter and less of a barge than its forebears.

It has lost much of the lumbering lethargy that afflicted its ancestors as well, due in no small part to the more lively powerplant and improved chassis tune. The driveline provides smooth and quiet daily commutes without drinking heavily, with open-road manners that are more than acceptable as well.

It still doesn't have the steering or balance that you might expect from a big rear-drive sedan if you use the Ford and Holden as yardsticks - it is certainly much better but the RWD locals still have it covered for steering response and balance.

The cabin is very comfortable, has good storage facilities and the features list is more than worthy, including some clever and not-so clever touches - foot-operated park brakes are not a favourite. The sun visors are very effective - they cover the long door side by means of extensions and a sliding function.

Full control by the driver of the sound system comes via buttons on the back of the steering wheel spokes - not a new feature but one that is worth mentioning as it leaves the wheel face a little less cluttered.

Pricing Guides

$28,990
Based on 99 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,888
Highest Price
$26,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
C 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $16,500 – 24,990 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 C Pricing and Specs
C Luxury 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $17,000 – 25,888 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 C Luxury Pricing and Specs
Limited 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $15,888 – 19,940 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 Limited Pricing and Specs
SRT8 6.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $23,540 – 29,040 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 SRT8 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7

“Chrysler is on a product charge and the 300 is its likeable leader - in Australia the segment is shrinking but the US brand says its numbers are still too big to ignore. The 300 is in the price ballpark, has the features and prowess that should put it on a large car shopping list.”

Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$15,888

Lowest price, based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months

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