Going to see a film is one of the best ways to get out, and one film we saw last year comes to mind: Transformers 2. After the first film, we were expecting something incredible. Fast sports cars, gorgeous women - Megan Fox - and of course, robots transforming into things. What could be better than that?
For all the special effects and explosions, underneath it all was a film that was lacking. The humor in the film was a bit off and not to mention the script wasn’t nearly on par with the first movie. Everything that one needs to make a film great was there, but it just didn’t come together the way it should have.
For all it’s mobster looks and massive power, the 2010 Chrysler 300S suffers from the same problems that plagued the film about transforming robots. Underneath that bulging exterior is a vehicle that’s lacking in many different ways.
Hit the jump to keep reading.
The 300 was first shown at the New York Auto Show back in 2003 and it was one of the best looking vehicles on the road. It came out in the retro years when Chrysler had already created the PT Cruiser . Like milk sitting on a shelf for years, the 300 hasn’t aged as well as we had hoped. Some might argue otherwise, but after a week with it, we grew tired of the overall style.
All the surfaces on the vehicle are flat and our S V8 model came with large 20-inch darkened wheels that would have looked better had the color been different. Where as most cars flow from front to back, the 300 seems to just sit there like a square blob. Still, imagine it in black with those rims and that grille, and the tide completely turns.
The S V8 trim level is, in a way, the last hurrah before the 300 gets redone for the 2012 model year. Along with the wheels, Chrysler has added a new grille, which is one of the trademark features of the car. Not much has changed around back, expect of course for the badges. All in all, the SRT8 version looks far better.
While the exterior may be aging, the interior has always been old. It’s bland, dull, and fronted with odd fittings like an oversized steering wheel, thick A-pillars, and a deep unpleasant dashboard. Had the car been priced at $25,000 these things would have been acceptable, but for the price of this machine we can’t issue Chrysler a pass on this one.
The S V8 version added sport seats, similar to the ones you’ll find in the Challenger, only worse. If you have wide shoulders, the bolsters will get unpleasant after awhile. Besides that, there isn’t a whole lot that separates this version from the others in the 300 range. All in all, there isn’t much to love about the interior of this vehicle. The materials are below average, the plastics are clunky, it has shoddy fittings of the trim, and irritating plastic chrome around the cup holders and the gear shifter.
Luckily, while it might look and feel bad, it’s fairly easy to use. Our S V8 model came with heated seats, dual-zone climate control, and auxiliary input and iPod integration. The 300S also came with Chrysler’s UConnect navigation/infotainment system. The system is light years behind what other companies are offering, but it’s easy to use and fairly quick during most requests.
One of the aspects that make the 300 loved by many people is the sheer size of the thing. It rides on the LX platform with a wheelbase of 120 inches. There is plenty of room to spread out in the front, but with those new sportier seats, rear seat room is a tad disappointing. Despite the car’s massive size, the high beltline and low roof destroy headroom. We had to move the seat up as far as we could in order to see out, but we found that our head kept hitting the ceiling. Frankly, this sort of thing is unacceptable in a vehicle of this size.
Had we been able to secure the 6.1-liter SRT8, these faults might have been forgiven, but we couldn’t. Our test S V8 came with 5.7-liter Hemi that cranks out 360 horsepower and 342 pound-feet of torque. Now, we don’t want to get into the business of bashing, but with all the displacement that this motor offers, we were expecting more power. BMW is able to get more horses out of less displacement, as are other companies. We love big motors, but there is nothing wrong with a little technology as well. The big motor will take the 300S to 60 miles per hour in around 5.8 seconds, which isn’t bad at all, but don’t make a habit out of it. During a week’s worth of driving, we managed 19 miles per gallon combined city and highway.
Turn on the traction control and it’s easy to get those back tires smoking, but this car is meant for that after all. The brakes are good, but nothing compared to what you would get on the SRT8. After a few runs of hard use, there was little fade.
When the road gets twisty, the 300S gets scary. This is a large machine and typically, large American machines are about as good at going around corners as the Cleveland Browns are at playing football. The big Chrysler has some body roll when pushed hard and you can easily tell that this is one heavy machine. The steering is light and uninvolved, and that massive wheel makes you feel like you’re commanding a ship. The tires do a good job of keeping the car on the road, but it’s certainly not graceful. The 2010 Ford Taurus does a far better job.
We don’t like to give automakers passes on poor handling cars simply because they call them muscle cars, but that’s really what the 300S is after all. The big Chrysler is best in a straight line. It’s great fun if you have plenty of straight roads with little traffic, but around corners or in the city the 300S leaves a lot to be desired. On the open highway, the suspension did a good job of absorbing bumps and the motor was quiet and smooth.
As good as this car might be on the highway and on the drag strip, we just can’t get over the price. At $40,000 we could easily find ourselves in an entry-level Mercedes-Benz , BMW , or an Audi . All three are just as good on the highway, but offer more refinement, more features, and a better overall driving experience.
Even though we found ourselves ready to give the 300S back, there is something about it that made us smile. Stomping on the accelerator and hearing those tires light up was enjoyable, not to mention the countless turning heads on the roads. Still, we hate to say it, but Chrysler really messed the 300 up. All the parts where there in 2003, but nothing ever came of it. No major updates, suspension tweaks, or anything of that sort. The 300S was the car that was supposed to be great, but it just wasn’t.
Why we like it: Though it needs a color change, the 300S is a mafia sort of car. Not to mention the engine under the hood can get you away from any trouble.
Why we don’t like: The interior is bland and feels cheap, the handling is sub-par, and the overall driving experience left a little to be desired.
Overall rank and verdict: The 2010 Chrysler 300S is the last of the current 300 lineup and we couldn’t be happier to see it go. It was fun and it was memorable, but it’s time. The 300S lacked the refined, quality, and excitement that makes a good car great.