It was love at first sight. It is no secret I have a love for rear-wheel drive large sedans that are super fast. That is why I had stars in my eyes when I saw the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8. I have always loved this car, and in fact, had one four years or so ago. This car badly needed a new look. It always looked great; you just couldn’t tell a 2006 from a 2011. Chrysler did not disappoint with this restyle.
The refreshed look of the 2012 300 SRT8 includes a new, sleeker front end with a black mesh grill. My test rocket is a beautiful silver color, with black interior. The SRT8 is noticeably lower and has some really great looking 20” polished aluminum wheels. On the rear, large chrome-tipped exhaust accents other chrome trim added to the rear, with more black mesh between them, and a much better-looking integrated spoiler. This car is amazing in that it commands everyone’s attention that sees it.
Inside you find cloth and leather seating. You would think it would be all-leather, but it works and works well. The dash is laid out beautifully, with two large, round gauge clusters that point in toward the driver for ease of sight. Kudos to whoever laid out the instrument cluster on this car, it is as good as I have seen.
Carbon-fiber adorns the center stack and much of the dash. It is stunning to say the least. Above that is a 8.4” touch screen that is the hub of all climate control, navigation, sound, Bluetooth, and some of the integral performance tools-like more gauges and even timers so you can time trial your 0-to-60-to-0 times. Of course it stores your best times, so you can try to beat them.
The SRT8 has virtually everything as standard equipment. My test car has heated and cooled seats, blind spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, and get this-a 20- speaker stereo system. The car has Sirius Travelink, so at the push of a button you get current gas prices near the vehicle’s location, traffic ahead, movie times and locations, and current sports scores.
Oh yes, and then there is under the hood. Pay attention here: 465-horses, 465 lb-ft of torque, 0-to-60 in 4.9 seconds, top speed 175 miles per hour. Go back and read that again. I’ll wait. This 6.4-liter Hemi is a beast.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 is a VERY large car with a cavernous back seat and trunk. It weighs 4350 pounds, which makes the above performance numbers even more amazing. No, there are no turbos of any kind, no superchargers; nothing but pure, raw horsepower. The last SRT8 model was a dragster, this new version has 40-horses more.
It looks like it would drive and ride like a brick due to its size, but that is not the case due to an Adaptive Damping Suspension system, which helps the SRT8 adapt to various driving conditions, taking into account speed, steering angle, braking force, and lateral and vertical forces. The system takes that data and automatically adjusts the suspension for the best performance and comfort. In a lot of cars, this would be more fluff than substance…in this car it really works.
A car this big and this fast and this heavy should be hard to stop. Chrysler covered those bases too, with vented 14.2” discs in front, and 13.8” disc in the rear and Brembo calipers.
Chrysler only left one stone unturned on this car and that was using the old transmission. It is a 5-speed automatic that can be shifted manually or with steering wheel paddles that are super-sensitive. I wish the car had at minimum a 6-speed auto, but I am not sure it would hold up to this kind of abuse of power.
Not that you should care, but the highway fuel economy is a very good 25 miles per gallon thanks to Chrysler’s variable cylinder displacement system that knocks you down to 4-cylinders when at cruising speed.
This is truly an amazing automobile for those of us who still love a big, fast, luxury sedan.
What I liked most: Take your pick, I like it all. Obviously the performance, but also the look and drive.
What I would change if I could: A 6-speed tranny and the title put in my name.
MSRP as tested: $55,635 and easily worth $5000 more.
Fuel Economy: Rated 13 in town, 23 on the highway, getting 25 on the highway.
2012 300 SRT8 in a few words: Muscle and mammoth meet in bliss.