Chrysler 300: imported from Detroit and proud

 

2012 Chrysler 300

When you have something as popular as Chrysler’s 300 sedan and you need to make changes but don’t want to mess up a good thing what do you do?

You do exactly what chief designer Ralph Giles and company did – fix the car’s interior and freshen the exterior so that it’s recognizable but better.

Give Mr. Giles a medal for restraint and his use of simple elegance. The 300 has only gotten better looking. It no longer looks like a poor man’s Bentley, but an upscale American luxury sedan. I think that’s a good thing these days. The car’s grille is more integrated into the fascia and those LED headlights add a bit more bling. The wide stance, big ol’ wheels and limo-looking proportions make this car look good on the road.

Well, it’s always looked good on the road, but not so good looking inside. Let’s face it, the last 300 had some cheap plastic and really fake wood which didn’t fit with the rest of the vehicle. That’s been banished and replaced by a gorgeous dash and finely finished trimmings. This thing is now a delight. The seats, even covered in cloth are ooooh so comfy, but supportive at the same time.

Back to that dash. The focal point is a big LCD screen that controls or displays most of the car’s functions. Above that screen is an analog clock that looks as if it was plucked from a jewelry store. The screen is touch sensitive or you can control the functions by voice. The gauges glow with an icky but serene blue hue. The tach and speedometer are under a cowl with helps to block out the sunlight. The fit and finish is excellent and the execution is nearly flawless.

The dash has been given the royal treatment

The most desirable version of the 300 is the SRT8 which gets the vaunted hemi engine. While still great, you don’t get short changed by picking the V6 which has been messaged and tweaked to 292 horses. Heck, who needs a V8, especially when this V6 can get 31miles per gallon on the highway.

My test car had the optional eight (8) speed transmission which is a wonder in itself. Shifts are barely felt and it helps to push this baby down the road with aplomb.

Yes, the chassis has been improved and yes, the chassis is still based on Mercedes bits  and pieces. If you were satisfied with last year’s 300, this year’s will not disappoint.

Faults, complaints? None that I can think of. The base car provides a smooth ride, brisk acceleration and handling that belies a car of this size. The high waistline and squinty windows may be a bit much, but not enough to scream about.

Me like. Me like a great deal.

The base 300 starts at $27,170 and comes with loads of stuff which includes traction and stability control, anti lock brakes, dual zone climate, cruise, multifunction steering wheel with tilt, power package, illuminated cub holders, 60/40 split rear seat, Uconnect touch screen, satellite radio, heated power mirrors and iPod connectivity.

The only options were the eight speed transmission ($1,000) and voice control ($295).

A $1,000 discount was given to replace the 8.4-inch touch screen with a 4.3 version due to early production shortages.

Factor in $825 for destination and the as tested price came to $28,290 – a relative steal. This new 300 should have been the car Eminem was driving in the “imported from Detroit” commercial. This is the new face of Chrysler. Ralph, you’ve got another winner.

cross@alldaytech

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