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Review: 2013 Chrysler 300S


William Maley

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William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

November 6, 2013

Chrysler has a habit of building a car that can cause everyone to go gaga and have the desire to own one. In the early 2000s, it was the PT Cruiser that caused many people to go crazy with lust. Then in 2005, lighting stuck once again with the introduction of the 300. Its bold styling and available HEMI V8 struck a chord with people. Here was a vehicle that looked like a million bucks, but was very much attainable. However the 300 lost it's exclusiveness and became old news.

But a couple years ago, Chrysler under the guiding hand of Fiat launched a new 300. The new model was leaner and possibly a little meaner as well. But the question for the new 300 is this; can it be the attainable dream car like the previous model? I had a 2013 300S for a week to find out.

2013 Chrysler 300S 8

The first-generation 300 received many praises for its very distinctive exterior design. That left Chrysler's designers in a tough spot with designing the next-generation model. Do they stick with what worked for the 300 and make minor changes or start anew? They went with the former and somehow made the new model look more exclusive. Park an old and new 300 and you can tell there's a family resemblance between them. The difference between the old and new is that new 300 features a smoother front and rear end, bolder wheel wells, and a set of LEDs arranged in a C-shape in the headlights. S models take the 300's design further by adding dark grey trim pieces and twenty-inch wheels with black paint on the wheel pockets. These additions really make the 300S stand out.

One of the biggest complaints with the last 300 was the use of questionable materials in the interior. The outside looked great, but was let down by an interior that could be described as disappointing. The new model fixes that by a wide margin. Chrysler made the 300S look and feel like a more expensive car by using better materials such as soft-touch materials along the dash and door panels, brushed metal trim, and leather on the steering wheel and seats. Controls felt solid and build quality was excellent. The only item I would change in the 300S' interior is switching out the black seats for the optional red ones. I thought the red seats would be somewhat garish. But after spending a week in what felt like complete darkness thanks to black leather on the seats and black dashboard, the red leather would provide some contrast.

2013 Chrysler 300S 13

As for comfort, the driver and passenger get enveloped in supportive leather seats with power adjustments and heat. Taking a quick trip up to Mid-Michigan for the day, I found that I was very comfortable and had no pain in my back. The back seat provides an adequate amount of head and legroom. However, there is a feeling of claustrophobia thanks to a high beltline and a small greenhouse.

2013 Chrysler 300S 16

A large eight-inch touchscreen sits on top of the center stack and features Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system. UConnect controls the radio, climate, navigation, and number of other functions in the 300. This system is has to be one the most user-friendly infotainment system I have used thanks to large touch points and switching from one function to another very quickly. One point of contention with UConnect is the Garmin navigation system. Some complain that it looks like MyFirstNavigation, but I would argue that its easier to use than fair number of competitors. Sure it's simplistic, but the system gets the job done.

Now that I have talked about the show in 300S, Let us dive into what makes this go on the next page.


The 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or the HEMI V8. In this particular 300S, it was equipped with Chrysler's 3.6L Pentastar V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque, up from the standard 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is thanks to a sport-tuned exhaust and cold-air induction system. An eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF gets the power to the rear wheels.

2013 Chrysler 300S 10

The 3.6L V6 is a very strong engine whether you're leaving a stop or needing to make a pass. There always seems to be enough power ready at your command. What impressed me more was the eight-speed automatic. This transmission plays very well with the V6, keeping it in the zone of power with no sweat. Shifts were unobtrusive and mostly quick when downshifting. I do wish the upshifts were a little bit faster when I hit the go pedal though.

The eight-speed automatic also has one of oddest and confusing gear selectors on the market today. It's supposed to work like your standard gear selector where you pull back to go into reverse or drive and push forward to go into park. But I never could seem to get into the gear I wanted on the first try. I would figure out that there are notches when you push or pull the selector, which helped out somewhat. I was left wondering why Chrysler thought this was a good idea. Maybe with a refresh or next-generation, a rotary knob will take the place.

Fuel economy wise, the 3.6L is rated at 19 City/31 Highway/23 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 25.3 MPG.

2013 Chrysler 300S 2

Chrysler found a nice midpoint with comfort and sport with the 300S' ride. We'll start with the comfort. The suspension tuning and long-wheelbase make any road almost feel smooth, even with the standard twenty-inch wheels on the S model. Wind and road noise hardly make an appearance as well. As for the sport, Chrysler fits a touring suspension which helps reduce body roll. Steering has a nice feel and weight when being pushed. However, the large size of the 300S makes it a bit of a handful when being driven hard.

In every facet, Chrysler has improved the 300. Under the familiar but somehow new body lies a number of major changes that make new model not only a standout in the Chrysler family, but in the entire marketplace. Also considering the as-tested price of $37,925 makes the 300S a bit of bargain.

The affordable dream car is back with a vengeance.

gallery_10485_708_341978.jpg

Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the 300S, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas.

Year: 2013

Make: Chrysler

Model: 300

Trim: S

Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6

Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic

Horsepower @ RPM: 300 @ 6350

Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 4,800

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/31/23

Curb Weight: 4,029 lbs

Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario

Base Price: $33,145

As Tested Price: $37,925 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

SafetyTec - $1,995.00

UConnect 8.4N AM/FM/Sat/Nav - $995.00

Light Group - $795.00

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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Great review, I would take one of these and that means allot from an SUV guy. Fell in love with the one they showed at the Seattle Autoshow. Amazing looking.


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The current 300 is a great value- the only thing I would improve is adding the 8-Speed to the Hemi a-la Grand Cherokee. The Luxury Series is a flat out steal and I love the brushed aluminum grille, matte wood, brown/tan leather, and chrome ringed steering wheel.

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I agree with the 8 speed. In my charger RT in tacking around 2300 at 73. I'd like to see that be closer to 1600 or so, would sure help fuel mileage.

However, I have no complaints, I didn't buy the car looking for fuel economy. With 5.7 hemi and 5 speed auto, I averaged 25 mpg on a trip from NJ to Ohio with the cruise set at 73. Not too shabby for as heavy as the car is, plus the additional weight of my partner and all his luggage!

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Great review. The 300 is at the top of my new car shopping list...thinking pretty seriously about one. Just not sure which trim level or powertrain to go with.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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Excellent review. I am consistently surprised and pleased by the quality of writing around here. Anyway, enough of that and back to the point: I'm actually a fan of the first generation's styling. Don't get me wrong, I still think that the latest model 300s are great looking but if I had to choose (based on looks alone) I would go with the 2005 model year.

You mentioned that the interior dash materials were soft to the touch. Does that mean they aren't using hard, ABS plastics? Is it still the orange peel texture stuff or is it more like a rubberized foam? Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to reading more.

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      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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