2012 Chrysler 300S V6. Click image to enlarge
Our car had the optional dual pane glass sunroof: the front one opens while the rear one is fixed, and a power-sliding sunshade covers both. Unfortunately, a wind whistle at highway speeds alerted us to the fact that the sunroof wouldn’t quite close properly.
On the road, the 300 feels like a big, luxury performance car with well balanced handling, a comfy highway ride and a very quiet cabin. The Pentastar V6 is quieter than the Hemi V8 and the eight-speed automatic has the right gear for every situation, changing quickly with the slightest depression of the gas pedal. Shift into Sport mode, and you can shift with the big magnesium paddles behind the steering wheel, though with eight gears, the driver is faced with a lot of shifting.
With 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Pentastar V6 pulls strongly from a standing start and has the legs for responsive highway passing. Though it has traction control, the engine’s torque is enough to spin the rear tires on take-off, especially on a wet, uphill incline. Freeway cruising is sublime: the tachometer reads just 1,300 rpm at 100 km/h in top gear — no wonder it’s rated at 6.4 L/100 km (44 mpg) on the highway! Though these Natural Resources fuel economy numbers are usually optimistic, we noted the onboard current fuel consumption gauge was reading 6.0 L/100 km (47 mpg) at a steady 100 km/h on a flat freeway. City mileage is rated at 10.9 L/100 km (26 mpg), but it’s probably higher as our onboard average fuel economy readout was displaying 12 L/100 km (23 mpg) after a week of city/highway driving.
The stubby floor shifter takes some getting used to because it operates differently than most shifters. After pressing the shift button on the handle with the thumb, and pushing or pulling the lever forwards or backwards, it springs back to its original position. The driver must check the gear indicator in the instrument cluster to see which gear has been engaged. On more than a few occasions, I engaged the wrong gear because I didn’t look at the instrument display. It requires a bit of patience to get used to it.
Steering feel while parking is a bit heavier than you might expect in a luxury car, but it’s not onerous and it feels responsive when cornering. The turning circle seemed tight for such a big car.
The driver’s visibility is quite good except for a broad C-pillar. However, the car’s blind spot warning lights in the side mirrors alert the driver to the presence of other vehicles in the left- or right-side blind spots — it’s a great feature. Our test car also came with the optional adaptive radar cruise control, which automatically adjusts the distance between the 300S and the car in front when travelling on the freeway.
We came away impressed with just about every aspect of the 300S — from its looks to its impressive cabin to its boatload of features and comparably low price. With its performance-oriented nature and rear-drive architecture, its closest competitors are probably the Dodge Charger or the Hyundai Genesis, and maybe the Ford Taurus SHO. Other big luxury sedans like the Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse just don’t have the same “street cred.”
Pricing: 2012 Chrysler 300S V6
Crash test results