2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 new car reviews

The Chrysler 300 SRT8 is not a small car by any means. Its 20-inch wheels fill the fender wells nicely.
Brembo brakes at all four corners effective, but the pads start to deposit visible dust on the wheels within a couple of days.
Faux carbon fiber appliques on the dashboard were a bit polarizing, but the panoramic sunroof is beautiful and the shift paddles are real, beefy aluminum pieces.
Our tester came with all sorts of safety tech including blind-spot detection and sensors for both forward and back parking assistance.
The updated fascia is refreshing, but so is the redesigned interior. It still has some cheap pieces, but overall it feels supremely plush.

Better than: Dodge Charger SRT8
But not as good as: God's own flaming chariot
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 83.65

Chrysler's (and Fiat's) bean counters are somehow letting their SRT division run amok. Their gangsta-grade 300 gets the go-fast treatment with the mega-powerful 6.4-liter HEMI V8. That's 392 to you cubic-inchers, a historic—albeit coincidental—Mopar number.

It packs a mighty 470 horsepower and pound-feet of torque, and the traction control is just relaxed enough to let it scare you. It'll lay rubber or show slip angle with merely a firm plant on the gas. The oomph is just as impressive as its interior appointments. Those shifter paddles on the steering wheel are real, chunky pieces of aluminum. The 300, then, is a proper flagship.

The 300 SRT8 starts just $200 higher than the Dodge Charger SRT8—that is, $47,170—but we saw one with several grand worth of options. A panoramic sunroof tacks on about $1300. Add $2000 for a 900-watt, 19-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer. The SafetyTec option package is another two grand, adding blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control along with a few other less-notable goodies. The as-tested price includes, we should mention, a $1000 gas guzzler tax.

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Other staff views

Alan Cesar FartSmeller69
SuperDork

This is a wonderful machine. It makes great noises, lays rubber like nobody's business, is first-class plush inside and looks intimidating while still being subtle—that last being something its Charger sibling doesn't do.

Oh, did I mention it goes like stink? It goes like stink. The automatic's shifting is ages faster than any other slushbox-based flappy paddle design I have yet seen. You don't have to anticipate a shift two seconds ahead of time; this one actually delivers fast, snappy shifts. And here I was, foolishly thinking an automatic was an unfortunate compromise. Yes, I love a three-pedal as much as the next hardcore enthusiast, but this auto doesn't leave much to want. It works.

This car's navigation/entertainment/control system is a particular pleasure: faster and more intuitive than any other I have yet seen. No baffling menu structure, no waiting after typing one letter to type in the next. This is how nav systems should work. That optional sound system, though pricey, could keep up with the bass-droppiest dubstep.

Unless you live in a city though, I'd forgo the extra safety features. The adaptive cruise control isn't great, and I thought visibility was good enough to not require blind spot detectors. All cars as of this year must have backup cameras, so you're not losing anything there.

If you're after a big, comfortable sedan with all kinds of power—and don't mind the occasional harsh bump—I'd call this the one to buy. The question another staffer posed: Would you take this over a Cadillac CTS-V? Oh yes. Absolutely.

Steve Chryssos Steve Chryssos
Reader

With great pleasure, I've mercilessly hammered these cars on track. They work extremely well. SRT should integrate a helmet bag into the trunk. I'd go so far as to say that they perform light years better than the previous iteration. On the street, ride is comfortable. The shape is more subtle than a comparable Cadillac. The only place these car's fall short is with rental car grade dash and console trim. Carbon fiber or not, the trim is two dimensional and cheap. Chrysler will sell more of these cars, by upgrading the materials and raising the price a commensurate sum.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I admit it, I'm a fan of the full-size land yacht. Sure, many of my cars feature tiny engines and meager levels of torque, but I do like the sensation that only a full-size, rear-drive car can deliver.

This one? I like it. It does feel big, though--really big. The dash seems to be a country mile away. The front seats are wider than a farmer's field.

The driving experience? It's not Z06-fast, but it's far from slow. I guess the big question is what to do with a car like this. Are you really going to track it? Pull max g's on every off-ramp? Probably not.

In reality, though, I think it's more of just having a car that harkens the golden age of the muscle car. A cruiser with a presence that only a big-bore V8 can deliver.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
2/9/12 10:19 a.m.

OOPS! Saw the spec sheet too late. Ouch.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
2/9/12 2:11 p.m.

On the bright side, I don't think that's any heavier than the original 392 Hemi powered 300 letter series.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
2/9/12 9:38 p.m.

Sound deadening, miles of copper wire, airbags, power seats, and 19 speakers. I bet it weighs 500 pounds more.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago Dork
2/9/12 10:33 p.m.

Dang, I sure do love red seats (no sarcasm)

Steve Chryssos
Steve Chryssos Reader
2/10/12 1:57 p.m.

The active Bilsteins do an incredible job of managing that heft. I know it's hard to believe, but this car is actually a lot of fun on track. Tons of fun. (oops, I had to.) In my opinion, it's more fun to track than the Challenger or Charger. The 300's softer suspension calibration really digs into the pavement.

kanaric
kanaric Dork
1/1/13 3:27 a.m.

wow this weighs as much as a truck. I'm guessing this is for the 60+ year old types out there pining for the days of the overrated 60s muscle car?

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Chrysler's (and Fiat's) bean counters are somehow letting their SRT division run amok. Their gangsta-grade 300 gets the go-fast treatment with the mega-powerful 6.4-liter HEMI V8. That's 392 to you cubic-inchers, a historic—albeit coincidental—Mopar number.

It packs a mighty 470 horsepower and pound-feet of torque, and the traction control is just relaxed enough to let it scare you. It'll lay rubber or show slip angle with merely a firm plant on the gas. The oomph is just as impressive as its interior appointments. Those shifter paddles on the steering wheel are real, chunky pieces of aluminum. The 300, then, is a proper flagship.

The 300 SRT8 starts just $200 higher than the Dodge Charger SRT8—that is, $47,170—but we saw one with several grand worth of options. A panoramic sunroof tacks on about $1300. Add $2000 for a 900-watt, 19-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer. The SafetyTec option package is another two grand, adding blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control along with a few other less-notable goodies. The as-tested price includes, we should mention, a $1000 gas guzzler tax.

Like what you read here? You can get a whole magazine full of these types of articles delivered to your home or shop 8 times a year. Subscribe now!

Visit the Classic Motorsports online store for a 2 for 1 special on back issues with MGB content!
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