The 2012 Chrysler 300S AWD is a great getaway vehicle whether you are a bank robber or a family going out for a weekend camping trip. This car still gets the most comments about its appearance, or should I say – presence. Comments such as: “This thing is big!” , “Are those 19s?” , and “How many dead bodies fit in the trunk?” are the more common ones. No matter its social image, the updated Chrysler 300 satisfies all the fundamentals of a good car and then adds luxurious features and style on top of it.
This particular model packs Chrysler’s ubiquitous and impressive Pentastar V6 motor that puts out 292 hp and 260 lb-ft in this application. It is mated to a new smooth shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that never disappoints. In the rear wheel drive only configuration this powertrain combination delivers a stellar 31 MPG on the highway. And this sure footed all wheel drive model still provides a respectful 27 MPG highway. This is impressive for such a big and comfortable car. It’s no slouch either. Roman and Nathan recently clocked a 9 second flat 0-60 mph run at 1 mile above sea level real world test. This should be quick enough for many a criminal for getting away from the authorities or a family trying to beat the Friday afternoon rush on the way out of town. The paddle shifters only add to the appeal.
The powertrain has a well defined split personality. Put it in Drive and it displays a relaxed and luxurious demeanor, but flick the E-shifter down into Sport and a noticeably more aggressive character shows itself. The Sport mode only affects the transmission settings as this model does not have adjustable suspension, power, or exhaust systems. However, the exhaust also has a nice growl at higher RPMs.
Speaking of suspension, this car strikes a nice balance between soaking up the rough road surface and having a nice solid feel. Although, this big sedan does not really like spirited canyon carving. And the low resistance and high efficiency Michelin Pilot HXMXM4 tires have a lot to do with it. These tires make a nice and very quite highway ride, but they do not provide a lot of grip in tight corners and tend to squeal when pushed hard. I would recommend getting more performance oriented tires. There are no complaints about the steering. The comfortable heated steering wheel has a nice weight to it and also provides good feedback about what the front wheels are doing.
My wife, two kids, and I took this car on a camping trip over the weekend and it did not disappoint. Two child seats fit with ease and the LATCH hooks were easy to reach. The Luxury Leather seats were comfortable and supportive all the way around and the fronts had cooling as well as heating. The large trunk swallowed up a large inflatable canoe, oars, and other camping gear. The weather was hot, but the powerful AC and rear power sunshade took care of us with ease. The only complaint the kids had was not being able to see much of the passing scenery over the very tall rear door panels.
This 300S AWD retails for $43,210, which sounds like a lot at first. However, this price includes the Luxury and Customer Preferred packages. This gets you a large 8.4 inch Uconnect Touch infotainment screen (which is straight forward to use), adaptive HID headlamps with smart hi-beam, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot and cross path detection, and a host of other technologically advanced features. One of the only things this price does not get you is a sunroof.
The big sedan is going up against tough competition. It has to contend with the newly redesigned Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Genesis, Ford Taurus, and the upcoming redesigned Chevrolet Impala just to name a few. Still, I think it has what it takes to hold its ground in this highly competitive segment.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give it a Lease it! as the car sits in this specific configuration. I would very easily give the Chrysler 300S AWD a Buy It!, if it had a Hemi and performance tires. And both of these options are available.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, reporter, and writer. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering with a car in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.