2013 CHRYSLER 300 SRT8:Bringing back the size and luxury of cars from the ‘50s

Wow, what a ride! That was the introductory statement I made when I first tested the 2006 Chrysler 300C, but now I would add another Wow! The SRT8 for 2013 is a great example of an American brand that captures the size and luxury of cars from the ‘50s but with much greater performance, thanks to technology. It is one of the most powerful sedans available, offering 0 to 60 acceleration time in under 5 seconds. At the same time it is as efficient as many of the V6-powered sedans, getting 14 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.  If you were around in the ‘50s ( like some of us ) and you were aware of the automobiles on the market, you would certainly remember the 300s from Chrysler Corp. They were luxurious, high-performance machines. The NASCAR version actually won the championship in its first year, setting speed records at Daytona. The 2013 300 continues to capture that excitement. You might say the 2013 300 is a sedan the way they used to be — big, rear-wheel drive and a large grille like the 1958 Chrysler 300. It is roomy and stylish and still carries some influence of Mercedes-Benz from their short- lived association a few years ago.

Let’s talk excitement: 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque will launch you like a rocket. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly. I prefer using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but you can also use the console-mounted lever to shift manually. The SRT8 features an active suspension that offers Auto, Sport, and Track modes that affect all areas of the car’s performance, such as steering effort, ride and response and transmission shifting behavior.

The Auto mode is your normal driving selection, and the car will still handle sharply and responsively. When you stomp on it, adjustments are automatic. This is the setting best for rough pavement. Sport mode will stiffen the baseline, making it more responsive on those long winding mountain roads. It’s hard to believe you’re driving a 4,400-pound sedan. The Track mode just stiffens things a little more and enables some real fun road- course-type driving. Another neat addition for you performance buffs is Launch Control. When you take off from a stop, Launch Control holds the engine at optimal rpm till the driver releases the brake. Then the Launch Control will use engine torque management to control wheel spin for maximum acceleration up to 62 mph. This car will definitely bring out the aggressiveness in your personality. You can use the track apps in the instrument cluster or the on the large touch screen to measure G-force, acceleration and 1/8 mile ET’s. There is a selection of gauge screens that will show other vitals such as water temperature, oil pressure and more.

If you’re going to use all that power to have some fun (let’s keep it safe), you can rest assured that the government testing has given the 2013 SRT8 a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars both for front-impact protection and side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the 2013 300 received the top rating of good in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

You might have second thoughts about paying a lot more for a highbrow nameplate when you see the luxury in the 2013 Chrysler 300 — topnotch materials, an 8.4-inch touch screen that controls hvac, navigation, car settings and much more. Even the optional Harmon Kardon audio system is controlled through the touch screen for great sound quality. Optional two-tone seating really adds something special to the interior. The steering wheel is heated (a special touch for the Yankees) and has thick suede grips. If you’re not into working a touch screen, there are redundant controls on the center stack to handle audio and hvac. For the folks who could care less about performance or can’t afford the SRT8, I should tell you about the other versions of the 2013 Chrysler 300. There are five trim levels: 300, 300S, 300C, 300C luxury series and my favorite, the 300 SRT8.

The base 300 comes very well equipped with leather, 17-inch wheels, Bluetooth, most of the electronics available today and heated front seats. The 300S has a slightly more powerful engine, remote start, shift paddles, a WD option, 20-inch wheels with performance tires, a back-up camera and a 10-speaker sound system. The 300C adds LED cabin lighting, an Alpine sound system, power adjustable pedals, additional chrome exterior accents, heated/cooled cupholders, upgraded leather upholstery, Berber floor mats and real wood trim. The high-performance SRT8 has most of the upgrades of the 300C but also has special wheels and high-performance tires, Brembo brakes, Launch Control, a three-mode adjustable sport suspension, sport-tuned steering and sport seats with leather/faux-suede upholstery.

Summary: The 2013 Chrysler shows the continuing improvements that are made every year to keep it a best-selling sedan. It has all the latest technology on the market. Every model is a pleasure to drive and gives good value for the money. Speaking of money, the 300 starts at around $30,000 for the base model and goes to $48,000 plus for the SRT8.

Try one — you’ll like it at any level.

 

By Terry Negley

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