Full 2010 Chrysler 300 Review
What's New for 2010
The V8-powered 2010 Chrysler 300C receives standard keyless entry/ignition and rear parking sensors, and all 300 models get standard side curtain airbags; however, front-seat-mounted side airbags are no longer available. The Touring Plus and 300S trims have been added and the base LX trim level has been discontinued.
The 2010 Chrysler 300 is at once a window into Chrysler's past and a beacon of hope for its future. On the historical side, the 300C and SRT8 models evoke the glory days of the 1960s and early '70s, when Chrysler was a leading purveyor of V8-powered, rear-drive muscle cars. And the 300 lineup in general, with its old Mercedes E-Class and S-Class suspension and transmission components, recalls Chrysler's ill-fated merger with Daimler-Benz. As for the company's uncertain future, the 300 is a reason to be hopeful. It's a capable and appealing car that reminds us why big, powerful sedans have always had an enthusiastic American fan base.
As with its platform mates, the Dodge Charger and Challenger, the Chrysler 300's entry-level engines are nothing special. There are two V6s available, one with a rental-car-grade 178 horsepower and one that puts out a more respectable 250 hp, albeit with an outdated four-speed automatic in rear-drive form (all-wheel drive nets a five-speed). But let's be honest -- most front-wheel-drive V6 family sedans offer more than 250 hp these days, and they weigh considerably less than the portly 300. This Chrysler was made with one kind of engine in mind: the classic broad-shouldered American V8.
Yes, it's the available honking "Hemi" V8s that make this Chrysler a genuinely desirable alternative to the sedan status quo. Even the 300C's and new 300S's "little" 5.7-liter V8 makes a beastly 359 hp, and its fuel economy approximates that of the 250-hp 3.5-liter V6. If that's not enough, the SRT8 model goes whole-hog with a 6.1-liter V8 pumping out 425 hp. The 5.7-liter V8 (and 3.5-liter V6) can also be paired with a trick all-wheel-drive system that allows you to switch from tenacious four-wheel traction to rear-wheel drive at the push of a button, and automatically switches to RWD on the highway for slightly better fuel economy. Wheel slippage, low temperatures or a certain number of windshield wiper passes re-engage all four wheels.
We've always been fans of the Chrysler 300, and the dwindling number of classic V8-powered American sedans make the 300C, 300S and SRT8 variants even more attractive than usual. You can also get an extended-wheelbase 300C with limousine-like rear legroom -- a unique offering at this price point. There are certainly other sedans to consider, though. If you're looking at V6-powered 300 models, we'd advise cross-shopping front-drive rivals like the Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon, as well as the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis V6 and any number of V6-powered family sedans. However, the high-performance 300C and SRT8 versions have few rivals nowadays, and overall, any 2010 Chrysler 300 other than the base Touring with the 2.7-liter V6 remains a solid choice for a large sedan.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chrysler 300 is a full-size sedan available in Touring, Touring Plus, Walter P. Chrysler Signature Series, Limited, 300C, 300S and SRT8 trim levels.
The base Touring comes standard with the weak entry-level V6, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an eight-way power driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat and a four-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Touring Plus adds traction control, antilock brakes, a bigger V6 and satellite radio. All but the engine are optional on the Touring. The Walter P. Chrysler Signature Series adds 18-inch chrome-clad wheels, a different suspension, automatic headlamps, power-adjustable pedals, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, additional chrome exterior trim, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a touchscreen-operated stereo with a six-CD changer and a 30GB hard drive for digital music storage. The Limited adds automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers, remote engine start, walnut interior trim, a six-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system and steering-wheel audio controls. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Touring, Signature and Limited gain a larger fuel tank, a five-speed automatic transmission and upgraded brakes.
Going with the 300C gets you a V8 engine, auto-dimming and power-folding heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, rear parking sensors, driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering column, a more powerful amplifier for the sound system, upgraded leather upholstery and "tortoise shell" interior trim. The 300S adds 20-inch wheels, performance suspension, tires and steering, sport seats, faux-suede upholstery, an auto-dimming mirror, sport steering wheel, different exterior and interior trim, Bluetooth and a 13-speaker surround-sound system with iPod interface.
The Luxury Group for the 300C adds adaptive cruise control, xenon headlamps, heated rear seats and a seven-speaker 368-watt surround-sound audio system with a subwoofer. The Limited, 300C and 300S can be equipped with a rear-seat entertainment system with Sirius Satellite TV, and all but the base Touring are eligible for a multimedia bundle that includes Bluetooth, an iPod interface and a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic.
Of special note is the Walter P. Chrysler Executive Series long-wheelbase package available on Signature and 300C trim levels -- it adds 6 inches to the standard wheelbase to increase rear-seat legroom.
The 300 SRT8 starts with roughly the same equipment as the 300C and adds an even more powerful V8, 20-inch wheels, Brembo performance brakes, xenon headlamps, special stability control calibration, a performance rear differential, rear parking sensors, unique exterior trim, a sunroof and an integrated rear spoiler. A 13-speaker Kicker sound system is optional.
Powertrains and Performance
The base 2010 Chrysler 300 Touring comes with rear-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter V6 that produces 178 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard. Fuel economy with this engine is 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
The Touring Plus, Signature and Limited trim levels come standard with rear-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter V6 good for 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 17 city/25 highway and 20 combined. All-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy with AWD drops slightly to 17/23/19 mpg. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard with the rear-wheel-drive 3.5-liter 300 sedans, while a five-speed automatic with manual shift control comes with the all-wheel-drive 300.
The Chrysler 300C gets a 5.7-liter V8 with 359 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. It delivers 16/25/19 mpg with RWD and 16/23/18 with AWD. A five-speed automatic is standard. The 300 SRT8's 6.1-liter V8 cranks out 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque through a five-speed automatic. Fuel economy is 13/19/15 mpg.
Traction control and antilock brakes are optional on the 300 Touring but standard on all other models. Side curtain airbags are standard, but front seat side airbags are unavailable for 2010.
In government crash testing, the 2010 Chrysler 300 earned a perfect five stars for driver and passenger protection during frontal impacts. It also earned the highest rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset crash testing; however, the 300 sans front-seat side airbags earned the second-lowest rating of "Marginal" in side-impact crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Chrysler 300's interior features a simple but elegant dashboard layout that received a new instrument panel, center console design and upgraded surfaces for '09. Still, given that well-equipped 300s can reach $40,000 and beyond, some may expect a nicer environment. Controls are relatively simple, while loads of available high-tech features bring nearly endless entertainment options. Cabin dimensions are generous in all directions -- even more so in the extended-wheelbase models, which offer more rear legroom by far than any primary competitors. Unfortunately, the 300's signature high beltline and low-profile windows result in compromised visibility, particularly for shorter drivers. Trunk capacity measures a relatively modest 15.6 cubic feet.
The 2010 Chrysler 300 is seriously fast with the C, S and SRT8 trims' V8s. Acceleration is immediate and authoritative in either model, accompanied by a confident burble. However, the base V6 should be avoided at all costs, notwithstanding the bold claim on Chrysler's Web site that it's "powerful enough to help you maneuver around things," and even the 3.5-liter V6 is nothing to write home about. The basic suspension design adopted from the old Mercedes E-Class yields a pleasant combination of generous ride compliance and reasonably capable handling, though the steering is too numb and light for serious driving.