What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Chrysler 300's trim level lineup has been revised. All but the SRT8 versions now have the 3.6-liter V6 as standard, though the 5.7-liter V8 is still available on the "S" and "C" trims. The SRT8 version gets launch control as well as an expanded range for its adaptive suspension, which now offers three modes. There's also a new, more affordable version of the SRT8 dubbed "Core."
It doesn't get much more American than a big, square-rigged and powerful rear-wheel-drive sedan, right? Never mind that the 2013 Chrysler 300 is actually built in Canada and based on a platform evolved from an old Mercedes E-Class -- if you're looking for a spacious, comfortable and powerful sedan with unabashed American style and flavor, it doesn't get much better.
But just because it offers traditional values doesn't mean the modern Chrysler 300 is behind the times. The current 300 brings a lot to the large sedan table, such as sleek styling, a trio of strong engine choices, a quiet interior and a comfortable ride. The cabin boasts a classy yet functional design and its materials are high in quality. Furthermore, the 300 offers the latest electronic features, but unlike those seen in some rivals, they're easy to use.
Also fully up-to-date are the 2013 Chrysler 300's V6 and V8 engines. It used to be that choosing the former meant lackluster performance, but with a V6 that cranks out up to 300 horsepower, that's certainly not the case now. And with eight speeds to work with, the automatic transmission contributes to the V6's impressive combination of strong performance and respectable fuel economy. If a full-on muscle car dressed up in a tuxedo is more your thing, there's the 300C SRT8, which sports a 6.4-liter V8 that pumps out 470 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque.
Of course, most shoppers will be considering the more common variants of the 2013 Chrysler 300, and that's not a problem at all. Even the base 300 can pass as a luxury car thanks to its high-quality interior, refined ride, strong power and generous features. Naturally, the 300 isn't the only large sedan available. The 2013 Hyundai Genesis is another standout, while the new 2013 Toyota Avalon is more engaging to drive this year. But overall the 2013 Chrysler 300 is a fantastic choice, especially if you want the definitive American sedan.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chrysler 300 is a full-size sedan available in six trim levels: 300, 300S, 300C, 300C Luxury Series, 300C John Varvatos Collection and SRT8.
The base 300 comes very well equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), an overhead console, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a six-speaker sound system with a compact touchscreen interface, Bluetooth phone and audio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio.
The 300S adds a slightly more powerful engine, a Sport mode and shift paddles for the transmission, remote start, unique black-out styling elements, foglights, 20-inch (19-inch with AWD) alloy wheels with performance tires, touring-tuned suspension, an eight-way power passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), piano black cabin accents, a rearview camera and a 10-speaker Beats by Dr. Dre sound system.
Stepping up to the 300C adds the following to the base 300: remote start, foglights, additional chrome exterior accents, auto-dimming driver sideview mirror, LED cabin lighting, heated/cooled cupholders, an upgraded Alpine audio system, a navigation system (with real time traffic), power-adjustable pedals and steering wheel, driver memory functions, a heated/wood-trimmed steering wheel, heated rear seats and a power rear sunshade.
The 300C Luxury Series further includes special "platinum chrome" exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, a Sport mode and shift paddles for the transmission, upgraded leather upholstery, leather-trimmed instrument panel and console, Berber floor mats, and real wood trim. The 300C John Varvatos Collection (named after the menswear fashion designer) is equipped similarly but has unique interior and exterior trim.
The SRT8 is a high-performance model that, in addition to most of the luxury features of the 300C, features special styling and interior trim, a high-performance V8, special 20-inch wheels and high-performance tires, Brembo brakes, launch control, a three-mode adjustable sport suspension, sport-tuned steering, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive and auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps, a rearview camera and leather/faux-suede upholstery and sport seats.
The "Core" version of the SRT8 includes most of the high-performance hardware but does without the adjustable suspension, adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, leather upholstery, premium sound upgrade, navigation system, heated seats/steering wheel/cupholders, parking sensors, rearview camera, power-adjustable pedals/steering wheel and a few other luxury features in exchange for a lower price tag.
Many of the upper trims' features can be had on the lower trims via various packages. Other option highlights (depending on trim level) include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof and the SafetyTec package. The latter features adaptive/auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot/cross-path warning system, a forward collision warning system, front and rear parking sensors and automatic wipers.
Exclusive to the 300S is the Glacier package, which includes all-wheel drive, unique 19-inch wheels, black roof and mirrors, front sport seats, cloth/leather upholstery and embroidered floor mats.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2013 Chrysler 300 trims except the SRT8 come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 300S version of that engine comes with minor tweaks (including a sport-tuned exhaust) that bump output to 300 hp. An eight-speed automatic is standard, as is rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 300 V6 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds ? about average for a V6-powered full-size sedan. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 23 combined. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 18/27/21.
Optional on all but the base 300 is a 5.7-liter V8 good for 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16/25/19 with rear-wheel drive and 15/23/18 with AWD.
The SRT8 boasts a 6.4-liter V8 good for 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic with paddle shifters are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the SRT8 went from zero to 60 mph in a very quick 4.7 seconds. Fuel economy for the SRT8 is 14/23/17.
Every 2013 Chrysler 300 comes with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and active front head restraints. The SafetyTec package adds a blind-spot warning system, a cross-path warning system (alerts the driver to cross traffic while backing up) and a forward collision warning system. A rearview camera is also available.
In Edmunds brake testing, the base 300 came to a stop from 60 mph in a better-than-average 118 feet. The 300S was essentially the same, while the SRT8 did it in an excellent 111 feet.
In government testing, the 300 earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the 300 received the top rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Given how nice the Chrysler 300's cabin is, luxury-car shoppers may think twice about paying extra for a fancy badge. The look is hardly ground-breaking, but it's classy even in the base trim level, while the 300S in particular adds some visual flair with its available two-tone color schemes. Materials are top-notch, particularly in the 300C Luxury Series and John Varvatos Collection, which boast leather and wood trim covering most interior surfaces. Given the 300's proportions, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's ample room for occupants big and small. The adjustability of the driver seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel are particularly impressive.
The large 8.4-inch touchscreen control interface is one of the better systems around, with large buttons and a logical menu structure. Luggage capacity is average for a large sedan, with 16.3 cubic feet of space. Rearward visibility is the only notable drawback for the 300 here, as the thick rear pillars can impede rearward visibility.
The 2013 Chrysler 300 glides down the road in a way that reminds us of a big Mercedes-Benz sedan. Its suspension dampens even heavily rutted pavement, yet it does so without causing uncontrolled body motions. The ride becomes firmer with the optional 20s, but we wouldn't call it objectionable. Body roll is acceptable when cornering, and the electric-assist steering has appropriate weighting and feel.
The 300 is famous for its big V8s, but the standard V6 is a strong performer in its own right. It's also smooth, quiet (mostly because of the cabin's ample sound-deadening) and pretty fuel-efficient with rear-wheel drive. However, the 5.7-liter V8 is worth its extra cost for those hankering for a taste of good old American muscle.
Meanwhile, the SRT8 represents American muscle on steroids. With 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, it provides serious tire-smoking ability. The SRT8 also goes around corners with a level of athleticism that belies this sedan's full-size dimensions. Having said that, tighter roads will quickly make even this top-dog 300 feel its size.