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2012 Chrysler 300 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chrysler 300 was new.


Performance: 7.5

Although the 300 was just redesigned last year, Chrysler has continued to tweak the 300’s drivetrain. A new eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are now available on V6 models, and early tests indicate that the new transmission is a winner. Reviewers say that upgrading to the eight-speed transmission not only improves fuel economy, but also improves acceleration. An optional V8 remains available for shoppers who want more power. Handling is generally considered comfortable, and the big 300 corners better than one might expect. However, one reviewer notes that upgrading the suspension and wheels can have a negative impact on the 300’s ride quality. The 2012 Chrysler 300 is now available with all-wheel drive on both V6 and V8 models.

  • "Paddle shifters are the only way to manually actuate shifts and add a sporty touch, although sporty is not a word that comes immediately to mind with this luxurious and massive sedan." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The V6 doesn't jump off the line. Once it gets going, it is merely adequate in moving this 4,000-pound large sedan. It's a bit disappointing given the otherwise healthy 292-horsepower rating." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The big sedan never felt slow and the powertrain never felt taxed. Driven hard, the V6 remained composed and refined even when revved to redline.” -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

Last year, Chrysler rolled out a new base engine for its redesigned 300 sedan, and there are some significant updates for the 2012 model as well. The base Chrysler 300 still comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 292 horsepower and a five-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers say that the V6 has adequate power, but strongly recommend upgrading to the new, optional eight-speed automatic that’s available on V6 models. They say the eight-speed automatic boosts both performance and fuel economy. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Chrysler 300, but for 2012, all-wheel drive has also been added to the V6 model’s option list. If you want more power from your affordable large car, the 300 is also available with a 363-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine. V8 models are only available with a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is also optional on V8-equipped Chrysler 300s.

According to the EPA, the rear-wheel drive Chrysler 300 V6 gets 18/27 mpg and 19/31 mpg city/highway with five- and eight-speed automatic transmissions, respectively. Shoppers who opt for the V8 engine will get 16/25 mpg city/highway. Fuel economy is slightly worse in all-wheel drive models. Equipped with the V6 engine and eight-speed automatic, the all-wheel drive Chrysler 300 gets 18/27 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel drive V8 models get 15/23 mpg city/highway.

  • "Eight forward speeds keep the engine closer to its powerband sweet spot, improving both mph and mpg." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The 8-speed automatic shifts smoothly and quickly through the gears, and works well with the V6." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The 2012 car feels similar off the line, but get past 1st gear, and the eight-speed's short ratios and smooth upshifts allow the Pentastar to crank out quick, successive dashes up the tachometer." -- Cars.com
  • "The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 will surprise and delight folks. While we love the 300C and the 5.7-liter Hemi that makes 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, our choice for overall refinement, fuel economy and not to mention going easier on the wallet is the V6.” -- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Chrysler 300 features a ride that’s geared more for comfort than sporty handling. Still, reviewers note that the 300 handles well for its size. Test drivers say that upgrading to 20-inch wheels or all-wheel drive will improve cornering ability. However, some reviewers note that while these upgrades improve handling, they also make the 300’s ride a bit less comfortable.

  • "No matter how you slice it, these are still large, heavy cars that won't win any handling contests. Still, the 300 is competent and secure in most every situation. Body lean in fast turns is moderate, but the steering lacks feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "As for handling, the 300 drives smaller than it is, with good body control; a creamy and controlled ride; and meaty, precise steering.” -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Opt for the 20-inch wheels or all-wheel drive, and the upgrade to Touring is included. Caution is recommended, though, as pairing the stiffer legs with 20-inch wheels results in untoward crashing over large pavement pocks.” -- Car and Driver 
  • "The ride offers poise completely in keeping with the car's newfound gentility." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "If it feels perhaps a tick less lightfooted than the all-wheel-drive Taurus, the 300 at least provides some polite idea of road feel, more than could be said for the Hyundai Genesis that Chrysler provided for comparison driving and post-lunch naps.” -- Jalopnik

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