Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Chrysler - 300 - range

Our Opinion

We like
Quiet, better-made and well-equipped cabin, petrol variants good value, more refined exterior styling, eight-speed auto on V6, SRT8 performance
Room for improvement
Expensive diesel engine, cabin quality niggles, five-speed auto on diesel and SRT8 could use an extra ratio, foot-operated parking brake

11 Jul 2012

THINGS are about to get even tougher for the Australian-made Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon – as if they weren’t tough enough already.

At a time of dwindling sales for both models, Chrysler has declared war by launching a more affordable and slightly less-polarising second-generation 300 sedan designed to tempt away buyers still loyal to the rear-drive large sedan layout.

On top of that, a resurgent Chrysler/Jeep Australia is equally intent on stealing some thunder from Ford and Holden’s performance divisions – FPV and HSV – with an even more hairy-chested SRT8 powered by an enormous 6.4-litre Hemi V8.

For all its cheesy retro charm, the previous 300C was a flawed beast, the two notable bugbears being interior refinement and dynamic prowess. With the new model, Chrysler has fundamentally addressed these concerns.

The cabin is a big leap forward, with soft-touch surfaces and a well thought-out fascia dominated by a massive 8.4-inch screen. Higher-specified variants get real wood and carbon-fibre inserts, while the blue-lit dials available across the range could have been lifted from a car twice the price.

The graphics on the screen are simple to use and the navigation system – standard on all but the base Limited model – is a cinch, as are the steering wheel-mounted buttons and the Bluetooth set-up.

The leather seats on most variants are soft and comfortable, while front/rear legroom and cabin ambience is excellent, courtesy of an acoustic windscreen and heavier use of sound-deadening foam.

Not all is perfect, though. Headroom is limited in the rear for anyone over 180cm, and the back-lighting on the giant central display goes frustratingly dim when the automatic headlights switch themselves on during the day.

We noticed some quality niggles inside as well, most notably an annoying door rattle from an SRT8 and the occasional uneven panel gap around the gear-shifter.

The archaic foot-operated parking brake is also as unwelcome and contrary to good ergonomics as ever.

While the exterior styling hasn’t strayed too far from the original formula – it’s still all square lines, big arches and small windows – the new take appears smoother and less garish, especially the classy new rear tail-light design.

We especially like the Bentley-inspired mesh grille on the SRT8, which cuts a much finer figure than the slightly cheesy number on the others, and the 20-inch wheels on most variants certainly fill out those massive arches better than the 18s on the entry-level Limited.

An added bonus is the ride quality, which is excellent considering the super low-profile tyres. We would expect it to be even more cosseting on the 18s, although we did not get a chance to test them.

On road and even track, the new 300 feels surprisingly capable. It’s still not quite a match for a Falcon, but it has closed the gap substantially. The electro-hydraulic steering on all bar the SRT lacks the feedback of the Ford’s fully-hydraulic system and is a bit light off-centre, but at least loads up effectively at speed.

And, while the big American sedan may lack the ability of its German rivals for making their more dynamic large sedans ‘shrink’ around the driver, the stiffer chassis and 51:49 weight distribution give the 1800kg-plus sedan a more nimble feel than before.

We spent most of our time in the flagship SRT8, the first half of the day devoted to track time on a rainy Phillip Island circuit and the latter to the twisty roads around South Gippsland.

The wet conditions meant the (fairly forgiving) stability control system remained firmly switched on, but time spent behind the wheel with a professional racing driver gave us a good look at the big car’s penchant for oversteer.

The big V8 gives a nice and linear wallop and will let out a barrel-chested growl with a firm push of the throttle. Maybe it’s the larrikin in us, but we think Chrysler could tweak the exhaust to make it even louder and rough around the edges at idle.

The standard five-speed Mercedes automatic is swift when changing up, but can be tentative on downshifts, even in its designated Sports mode, and while the paddle shifters are slick between the gears it could use another ratio.

Only the Hemi’s mountain of torque saves it, and we would love to see Chrysler introduce the ZF eight-speed unit used in the smaller petrol option. We understand this unit will be added to the diesel and SRT in time, though it’s unclear exactly when.

Inside, the SRT is loaded with high-end features including a fantastic 19-speaker, 900W sound system, while the leather seats and carbon-fibre finish give it a premium feel. We love the heated and cooled cupholders, too.

The V6 diesel may take the chocolates for fuel economy – crucially addressing one of the chief concerns surrounding large cars – but its $5000 price premium over the Pentastar V6 petrol makes it awfully hard to justify.

The engine itself is swift and exceedingly quiet courtesy of the extensive deadening of the bodyshell and cabin, but peak torque is available across a very narrow rev band, so it lacks the immediacy of some rival units.

Our time behind the wheel of the Pentastar V6 was limited, but we liked the beefy exhaust note and the seamless changing of gears from the eight-speeder (with its stylish and unique gearlever).

Our time behind the 300’s big steering wheel may have been brief, but we came away tentatively impressed. Chrysler has certainly made a big leap in its interior design, while it looks as distinctive as ever.

The car won’t appeal to everyone, but it makes a viable American alternative to garden-variety Falcons and Commodores at the lower end of the large-car segment, is substantially larger than its price-point rivals from Germany, and the SRT8 flagship is a formidable muscle car to rival the best that the local boys can muster.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new 300

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

300 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here