The Chrysler 300 has been one of the company's modern success stories.
It was a big hit when introduced and, unlike some flashes in the pan (e.g., Plymouth Prowler), it has had excellent staying power. With rear-wheel drive, head-turning styling and an available V-8 engine, what's not to like?
That was the formula when Daimler-Benz was calling the shots at Chrysler, and that is the formula now -- only more so. With 470 horsepower on tap, the all-new 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 offers thrilling acceleration, but it can also handle with the best European sport sedans. The offerings of the high-performance division of Chrysler SRT, which stands for "Street and Racing Technology," are extremely well-thought-out and beautifully executed.
The 300's bold looks have been given a very slick update that smoothes out the sharp edges but keeps the car looking like no other. It is an imposing -- almost sinister -- sedan, and the SRT8 version punches it all up a notch by using Fuel Saver Technology in combination with an active-valve exhaust system that brings higher highway fuel efficiency and generates huge amounts of horsepower.
The SRT8's heated steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters that enable you to activate the five-speed automatic transmission, which features laudable quick shifts -- even in spirited driving. A big addition to the 2012 SRT8 is the adaptive damping suspension that features two driver-selectable modes: auto and sport. Seven-spoke 20-inch wheels with high-performance tires make a statement in both looks and handling.
At $48,000, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 isn't the least expensive full-size sedan on the market. But when you factor in its great looks, plush interior and sports car–like performance, its sticker price seems like a substantial bargain.
First Test: 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8
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