Our recent test of a Chrysler 300 sedan equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 left a favorable impression, as evidenced by the significant improvement in the big sedan's road test score. Like many recently updated products from Chrysler, the 300 got an extensive freshening for 2011 that included a much-improved interior and other updates, transforming it into a comfortable and refined large sedan.
But not unexpectedly, fuel economy from the big V8 is not a strong suit. While 18-mpg overall isn't bad given its power, we had been curious to try an updated 300 with the more economical 3.6-liter V6 for comparison. But we held off testing, knowing that V6 models were due to be further improved for 2012 with the addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission that promises greater smoothness and fuel economy than the old five-speed.
In many ways, our latest 300 could hit the sweet spot for many buyers. With 292 horsepower, the six is no slouch; it provides more than adequate acceleration. The ZF-sourced automatic is as smooth as it is efficient, and it is the same transmission used by luxury makers, including Audi and BMW. Plus, the 18-inch tires are likely to provide a smoother ride than the lower-profile 20-inchers on V8 models. Beyond that, it offers similar appeal as our last 300.
Speaking of luxury, our 300 is a Limited model, equipped with leather seats, a moonroof, heated receptacles for passengers and heated and cooled ones for their beverages, along with lots of other amenities. All those goodies drive the price up to a not insignificant $38,335, although prices start at $28,470 if buyers are willing to forgo some creature comforts. Discounts and rebates are being offered as of this writing.
We'll soon see how the 300 V6 stacks up against its peers.