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2013 Chrysler 300S Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/22/2014 Mike Floyd, Motor Trend Staff
2013 chrysler 300S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 chrysler 300S

It doesn't take a grizzled auto industry analyst to know that Chrysler and the brand's newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles parent company are undergoing a major transition. It's also safe to say the next Chrysler 300 reportedly on track for a 2015 calendar year debut will likely be a much different car, though how much so is hard to say. After a year spent evaluating the 2013 Chrysler 300S, there's one thing we know for sure: This version of the 300 is a solid luxury sedan that could be even better with some refinement.

2013 chrysler 300S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 chrysler 300S

The poster car for Chrysler's now famous Imported from Detroit tag line (yes, we know, it's built in Canada), the 300 is big, brash, and boxy -- one bad mutha from the Motor City. The 300S we ordered has presence with a capital P. The expressive black-tinged 20-inch alloys dynamically contrast with the car's Bright White paint job and minimized chrome accents. White certainly looks tight. Now all we needed was a screaming Hemi under the hood so we could burn the rear tires off in full hyper-drive 'Merican mode, right? Wrong.

2013 chrysler 300S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 chrysler 300S

Instead, we opted for Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with a not-insignificant 300 hp EPA rated at 19/31 city/highway mpg (21.9 mpg was our average fuel economy, just south of the car's 23-mpg EPA combined rating), mated to an eight-speed automatic. We didn't win any stoplight drags, but at 6.4 seconds to 60 mph the V-6 was no slouch, and the powertrain as a whole proved more than capable of motivating the 4110-pound 300S in any on-ramp, passing, or other daily driving situation. That said, under hard pedal mashing, the powertrain has a tendency to lag for a beat or two before spooling up, and the Sport mode with paddle shift option is decent, but we weren't grabbing for the paddles incessantly. Speaking of grabbing, the brakes do a fine job of hauling the 300S down to zero, and they remained strong throughout its stay.

Dynamically, the 300S is capable, but this is no sport sedan -- head to the SRT model if you're looking for a 300 that can get after it. From behind the wheel, the car doesn't shrink around you. Instead, it's as though you're in command of a hulking white Navy destroyer. The road feel was on the stiff side, but it rarely doled out any severe punishment. The 300S is at its best as a boulevard cruiser. Ask it to do anything more than that, and you'll experience steering with a dead spot on-center before the effort builds into a corner, and a heavy and out-of-sorts feel when pushed into challenging maneuvers. Like an aging sports superstar, the LX platform on which the RWD Chrysler sits is still capable, but clearly past its prime.

The 300S excels in the amount of features and content you get. The two main packages we ordered up, SafetyTec ($1995) and Luxury Group ($2850), come chock-full of top-shelf options. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and cross path detection, and front collision warning headline the safety group, while the luxury loot includes power reverse mirrors, a rear sunshade, adjustable steering column and pedals, and the heated and cooled cupholders. Add the Uconnect navi/infotainment system ($995) and bi-xenon headlights ($795), and the $33,990 base price tallies to $40,625 -- not bad considering the multitude of standard features and options.

On the inside, the 300S is a generally pleasing mix of piano black and carbon-look accents, although it's on the dark side. The S-embroidered seats are solid, if a bit firm. There were some minor annoyances, mainly a balky gear shifter that had a tendency to go either too far or not far enough to select the desired gear, an old-school parking brake I constantly brushed my foot against, and crampy rear-seat room. The 16.3-cubic-foot trunk did the job, and the folding rear seats add cargo flexibility. Other than a confounding dash rattle we were never able to sort out, the cabin as a whole held up well. At speed, the car was quiet, but when I wanted to bring the noise, the 552-watt Beats sound system rocked the house.

I needed to address two minor issues at the dealer: a heated seat that wouldn't heat and a burned-out headlight. Both were handled under warranty. The regular oil change and inspection service intervals occurred at roughly 9500 and 18,500 miles and totaled $135.60 -- not bad considering the Acura ILX I previously chaperoned came in around $100 a pop.

I'm eager to see what the future brings for the next 300, and I'm betting Chrysler will address many of the present car's shortcomings. But in the here and now, the 300S proved at least that Chrysler can build a competitive, sporty-ish luxury sedan -- just don't push it beyond its capabilities.

More on our long-term 2013 Chrysler 300S:


Our Car
SERVICE LIFE15 mo / 25,981 mi
BASE PRICE$33,990
OPTIONSLuxury Group ($2850: heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals), SafetyTec ($1995: blind-spot monitoring, front/rear park assist, adaptive speed control, forward collision warning), Uconnect 8.4N CD/DVD/MP3/Nav ($995), Light Group ($795: adaptive bi-xenon HID headlights, auto high-beam control, auto headlight leveling, rear foglights)
PRICE AS TESTED$40,625
AVG ECON/CO221.9 mpg / 0.92 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREASDriver's seat heater
MAINTENANCE COST$135.60 (2-oil change, inspection; 1-rotate tires)
NORMAL-WEAR COST$0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*$21,125
RECALLSNone
*Automotive Lease Guide data


2013 Chrysler 300S
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT219.9 cu in/3604 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO10.2:1
POWER (SAE NET)300 hp @ 6350 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)264 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
REDLINE6500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER13.7 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO2.65:1/1.78:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARControl arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO15.5:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK2.5
BRAKES, F;R12.6-in vented disc; 12.6-in disc, ABS
WHEELS8.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum
TIRES245/45R20 99V M+S Firestone Firehawk GT
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE120.2 in
TRACK, F/R63.4/63.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT198.6 x 75.0 x 58.7 in
TURNING CIRCLE38.9 ft
CURB WEIGHT4110 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R51/49%
SEATING CAPACITY5
HEADROOM, F/R38.6/37.9 in
LEGROOM, F/R41.8/40.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R59.5/57.7 in
CARGO VOLUME16.3 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.5 sec
0-403.6
0-504.9
0-606.4
0-708.3
0-8010.6
0-9013.0
0-10015.9
PASSING, 45-65 MPH3.0
QUARTER MILE14.9 sec @ 97.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH115 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.85 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH1300 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROLYes/yes
AIRBAGSFront, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/100,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE5 yrs/100,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY19.1 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON19/31/23 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY/COMB177/109/146 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMBINED0.84 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regular

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