2013 Chrysler 300S Verdict
Imported from Detroit Represents, with a Capital S
It doesn't take a grizzled auto industry analyst to know that Chrysler and the brand's newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles parent company are undergoing a major transition. It's also safe to say the next Chrysler 300 reportedly on track for a 2015 calendar year debut will likely be a much different car, though how much so is hard to say. After a year spent evaluating the 2013 Chrysler 300S, there's one thing we know for sure: This version of the 300 is a solid luxury sedan that could be even better with some refinement.
The poster car for Chrysler's now famous Imported from Detroit tag line (yes, we know, it's built in Canada), the 300 is big, brash, and boxy -- one bad mutha from the Motor City. The 300S we ordered has presence with a capital P. The expressive black-tinged 20-inch alloys dynamically contrast with the car's Bright White paint job and minimized chrome accents. White certainly looks tight. Now all we needed was a screaming Hemi under the hood so we could burn the rear tires off in full hyper-drive 'Merican mode, right? Wrong.
Instead, we opted for Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with a not-insignificant 300 hp EPA rated at 19/31 city/highway mpg (21.9 mpg was our average fuel economy, just south of the car's 23-mpg EPA combined rating), mated to an eight-speed automatic. We didn't win any stoplight drags, but at 6.4 seconds to 60 mph the V-6 was no slouch, and the powertrain as a whole proved more than capable of motivating the 4110-pound 300S in any on-ramp, passing, or other daily driving situation. That said, under hard pedal mashing, the powertrain has a tendency to lag for a beat or two before spooling up, and the Sport mode with paddle shift option is decent, but we weren't grabbing for the paddles incessantly. Speaking of grabbing, the brakes do a fine job of hauling the 300S down to zero, and they remained strong throughout its stay.
Dynamically, the 300S is capable, but this is no sport sedan -- head to the SRT model if you're looking for a 300 that can get after it. From behind the wheel, the car doesn't shrink around you. Instead, it's as though you're in command of a hulking white Navy destroyer. The road feel was on the stiff side, but it rarely doled out any severe punishment. The 300S is at its best as a boulevard cruiser. Ask it to do anything more than that, and you'll experience steering with a dead spot on-center before the effort builds into a corner, and a heavy and out-of-sorts feel when pushed into challenging maneuvers. Like an aging sports superstar, the LX platform on which the RWD Chrysler sits is still capable, but clearly past its prime.
The 300S excels in the amount of features and content you get. The two main packages we ordered up, SafetyTec ($1995) and Luxury Group ($2850), come chock-full of top-shelf options. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and cross path detection, and front collision warning headline the safety group, while the luxury loot includes power reverse mirrors, a rear sunshade, adjustable steering column and pedals, and the heated and cooled cupholders. Add the Uconnect navi/infotainment system ($995) and bi-xenon headlights ($795), and the $33,990 base price tallies to $40,625 -- not bad considering the multitude of standard features and options.
On the inside, the 300S is a generally pleasing mix of piano black and carbon-look accents, although it's on the dark side. The S-embroidered seats are solid, if a bit firm. There were some minor annoyances, mainly a balky gear shifter that had a tendency to go either too far or not far enough to select the desired gear, an old-school parking brake I constantly brushed my foot against, and crampy rear-seat room. The 16.3-cubic-foot trunk did the job, and the folding rear seats add cargo flexibility. Other than a confounding dash rattle we were never able to sort out, the cabin as a whole held up well. At speed, the car was quiet, but when I wanted to bring the noise, the 552-watt Beats sound system rocked the house.
I needed to address two minor issues at the dealer: a heated seat that wouldn't heat and a burned-out headlight. Both were handled under warranty. The regular oil change and inspection service intervals occurred at roughly 9500 and 18,500 miles and totaled $135.60 -- not bad considering the Acura ILX I previously chaperoned came in around $100 a pop.
I'm eager to see what the future brings for the next 300, and I'm betting Chrysler will address many of the present car's shortcomings. But in the here and now, the 300S proved at least that Chrysler can build a competitive, sporty-ish luxury sedan -- just don't push it beyond its capabilities.
More on our long-term 2013 Chrysler 300S:
|SERVICE LIFE||15 mo / 25,981 mi|
|OPTIONS||Luxury Group ($2850: heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals), SafetyTec ($1995: blind-spot monitoring, front/rear park assist, adaptive speed control, forward collision warning), Uconnect 8.4N CD/DVD/MP3/Nav ($995), Light Group ($795: adaptive bi-xenon HID headlights, auto high-beam control, auto headlight leveling, rear foglights)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$40,625|
|AVG ECON/CO2||21.9 mpg / 0.92 lb/mi|
|PROBLEM AREAS||Driver's seat heater|
|MAINTENANCE COST||$135.60 (2-oil change, inspection; 1-rotate tires)|
|3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*||$21,125|
|*Automotive Lease Guide data|
|2013 Chrysler 300S|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||219.9 cu in/3604 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||300 hp @ 6350 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||264 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||13.7 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||12.6-in vented disc; 12.6-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||8.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||245/45R20 99V M+S Firestone Firehawk GT|
|TRACK, F/R||63.4/63.8 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||198.6 x 75.0 x 58.7 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.9 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||4110 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST., F/R||51/49%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.6/37.9 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.8/40.1 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||59.5/57.7 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||16.3 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.0|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 97.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.85 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1300 rpm|
|AIRBAGS||Front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/100,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/100,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||19.1 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||19/31/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY/COMB||177/109/146 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMBINED||0.84 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|