First off, I will firmly state that this is a car to be fully enjoyed. It was a pleasure to drive and a very satisfying experience. Chrysler stepped up to the plate on this model and really made significant improvements over the 2011. This 2012 model has better performance, more luxury features, and more technology.
My test-drive model was equipped with a 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 engine which was matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. A few early-release models had the older 5-speed transmission, so be aware when you compare. The V-6 offers up 292 horsepower and matched with the 8-speed transmission, it is a fun car to drive. It has excellent shift response, although hardly discernible. For those aficionados, there are paddle shifters that allow a sportier drive. Using the paddle shifters and the sport mode, it is possible to go 0-60 in about 8 seconds.
Fuel economy is significantly affected by the power, speed, and consistent use of those paddle shifters, but it is all there for those aggressive drivers who want that feature. Otherwise, this 2012 Chrysler 300 is EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. For my full week of driving, which included a wide variety of city, highway, and country roads, I averaged 29 overall mpg, which was better than I had anticipated.
The re-design and improvements for this year have certainly made this a much more appealing luxury vehicle. The looks are more muscular but toned down from those first few generation models. The controls have been grouped together inside so that they are easier to reach and operate. The interior looks more elegant and modern, mostly due to the naturally finished wood trim that is used. The inside of this vehicle is very spacious, as much as any sedan in this class. There is a lot of head room, a large trunk, and comfortable seats.
Although my test model was the base Limited Edition, there are several other trim levels available, all at higher costs, of course. The 300S and the 300C can be outfitted with the popular 5.7 liter HEMI V8 which is a lot more aggressive and spits out 363 hp. If that is not enough, consumers can opt for the SRT8 model that has the biggest, baddest, latest HEMI. This is the 6.4-liter engine that offers 470 horsepower. With that amount of muscle, drivers can push the pedal to the metal for a 0-60 acceleration is less than five seconds and give the sound, throbbing effect, and feel and heading out to the race track for competition.
There is usually something not to like about a new car and on the 2012 Chrysler 300, I found that to be the gear shifter. It was mounted on the console, right between the two front seats, and looked just like the Audi A8 that had been test-driven only a few weeks earlier. I had a similar problem with the Audi shifter as well, which required precision and slow movement to get into the specific gears. This was especially true when trying to push the knob upwards into the Reverse position, which regularly went into Park instead. Hopefully, the Chrysler (and Audi) engineers can fix this inconvenience.
Overall, the 2012 Chrysler 300 is top-of-the-line. It is a honest-to-gosh player in the luxury segment, offering up a good looking vehicle, premium interior, and combinations of engines and transmissions to give drivers plenty of power. This is one vehicle that can be used to drive the family sedately to church on Sunday or driven to the race track in a way that warms up your internal body engine for the next big race.
The test-drive model had a Base MSRP of $32,670 but several options added. These included a Luxury Group Package (leather seats, heated front & rear seats, heated steering wheel, back light sunshade, power adjustable pedals, and much more), a Customer Preferred Package (adaptive headlights, rear park assist, forward collision warning, and more), a Luxury Series Package (a lot more leather and chrome touches), and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. This all bumped the bottom sticker price with destination charges up to $45,055.
This is not an entry level small car that is designed to be passed off to your children in a few years. This is a large, luxury, powerful sedan that makes you proud to be seen. It creates that positive experience in driving that we look for when choosing our cars. Check it out yourself at a Chrysler dealership.