2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Review

We drive Chrysler's old-school sedan.

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November 3, 2012

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Review

It came as no surprise to us that slamming the gas pedal resulted in tire squeal followed by neck-slamming acceleration.

Massive horsepower and torque numbers are nice. Adding luxury to that is nicer.

That's the thinking behind the Chrysler 300 SRT8. If the regular 300 isn't powerful enough for you, try the SRT8 on for size. Like all 300s, the SRT8 got a revamp for the 2012 model year.

We spent a week with the car, trying it on for size, because 470 horsepower is hard to pass up.

2012 Chrysler 300 On the Road Having driven the similar Dodge Charger SRT8 (which also went under the knife for 2012), we knew what we were getting into. It came as no surprise to us that slamming the gas pedal resulted in tire squeal followed by neck-slamming acceleration, with only the large car's weight seeming to hold it back from bigger and better things.

One of the things we liked about the SRT8 was that it was quiet at low RPMs, but the exhaust came alive as the engine entered its sweet spot. If you like to scare pedestrians, this car makes a great choice.

If you like taking corners with a healthy dose of oversteer, well, the SRT8 is great for that, too. Its tail will wag even with traction control on, should the driver prod the throttle deeply enough.

When pointed at a curvy road, the SRT8 behaved admirably, with stability and a solid-feeling chassis. Large cars aren't typical nimble, and the SRT8 isn't either. It was stable enough, without much flop or body roll, and the steering was relatively accurate, and the acceleration made quick work of the straightaways while the brakes brought the car down to cornering speed with ease. We'd never pick a 300 SRT8 as a handling champ, but that doesn't mean it's not competent enough to be more than just a straight-line wonder.
2012 Chrysler 300 Exterior The updates over the old model are subtle, with lines softened and drawn into curvier shapes. Overall, the look screams 'big American luxury,' and it works well for us.
2012 Chrysler 300 Interior As part of the update, the interior got a much-needed upgrade, with more curves (especially at the edge of the center stack) and a less button-intensive audio/climate control system. It also offers a series of performance gauges that can monitor things like g-force load and how much power the engine is making at any given moment, which enthusiasts might appreciate.

We like the flat-bottomed steering wheel and bolstered seats (although they can get tight for longer drives), and we found the car plenty roomy, as befits its size.
2012 Chrysler 300 Fuel Economy & Safety The 300 SRT8 offers the usual complement of airbags, plus a driver's knee airbag.

Fuel economy numbers aren't pretty at 14 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, but that isn't exactly surprising now, is it, given the engine's 6.4-liter displacement?
2012 Chrysler 300 Final Thoughts The 300 SRT8 offers a good blend of performance and luxury experience, with some nicer interior materials and a little less noise at around-town speeds. We're big fans of honkin' V-8 power and rear-wheel-drive, and we love misbehaving in cars like this. The and 300 SRT8 is one of the last of a breed when it comes to big American sedans with V-8 engines and rear-wheel-drive, but we hope that the breed isn't done just yet.
2012 Chrysler 300 Specs, Features, Prices Engine: 6.4-liter V-8

Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Drive Wheels: Rear

Base Price: $47,670

Available Features: Navigation, rearview camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB port, front- and rear-obstacle detection, rear spoiler, performance suspension, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, adaptive headlights, leather/suede seating surfaces, heated front seats, remote start.

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