At this stage, the folks at Cadillac and Lincoln—and perhaps Audi and BMW, too—had better start taking the Chrysler Group’s full-size flagship more seriously. With an all-new, seriously upscale interior, the range-topping 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury Series doesn’t just push the envelope for premium American sedans, it knocks it down and stomps on it. That’s not just hyperbole, either. This latest addition to the Chrysler 300 lineup offers a surprising number of exclusive and best-in-class benefits, wrapped in a clean, sophisticated design that achieves best-in-class fuel efficiency.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury Series is scheduled to go on sale beginning in the first quarter of 2012, with MSRPs that range from $40,145 for the 300 Luxury Series to $42,895 for the 300C Luxury Series; tack on an extra $2,350 for AWD models.
The Most Luxurious Chrysler 300 Ever
The 300 Luxury Series offers the full gamut of expected premium content, but what really sets it apart from the competition is a cabin that’s thoroughly adorned in soft leather surfaces. This includes the same kind of high-grade Italian “Frau Foligno” leather found in exotic supercars and is used to wrap the instrument panel, cluster brow, center console side panels and upper front and rear door panels in the 300 Luxury Series. Then, super-supple Nappa leather covers the door armrests, bolsters and center console armrest as well as the front and rear seats. Providing an ideal accent to that rich use of leather, a hand-sanded, natural-pore Mocha wood trim adds an elegant matte finish.
Other noteworthy interior content includes:
• Two-mode ventilation and two-mode heating for front and rear seats
• Driver and front-passenger 12-way power-adjustable seats with four-way power lumbar support
• Die-cast paddle shifters
• Dual heated/cooled cup holders
• The segment’s only steering wheel that is heated throughout its entire rim.
• A cutting-edge infotainment/connectivity/nav system with the largest touchscreen in the segment—at 8.4 inches, it’s even larger than the screen in the new Cadillac CUE system
• An LED-illuminated instrument cluster and ambient lighting
• Power-adjustable pedals with memory
• Thick, 18-ounce Berber floor mats
• A power backlight shade
• Satin-chrome door sills
• An auto-dimming/auto-tilting driver’s-side mirror
Exterior upgrades on the 300 Luxury Series are more subtle, and highlighted by two different wheel designs. Rear-wheel-drive models get 20-inch wheels with polished faces, while all-wheel-drive cars are outfitted with 19-inch aluminum wheels with painted pockets. For an added touch of distinction, platinum-chrome accents can be found on the car’s fascias, exterior mirror caps, door handles and grille surround, while the grille itself is platinum-chrome mesh.
The Most Fuel-Efficient 300 Ever
Another example of how Chrysler has moved into the vanguard of the full-size sedan segment is the 300’s eight-speed automatic transmission—a class-exclusive. Those extra cogs, combined with the Chrysler Group’s award-winning Pentastar V-6 engine, deliver very impressive EPA ratings. The automaker breaks the numbers out as follows:
• Best-in-class highway fuel economy (31 highway mpg)
• Best-in-class V-6 AWD fuel economy (18 city and 27 highway mpg)
• Best-in-class combined fuel economy (23 with RWD, 21 with AWD)
• Unsurpassed city fuel economy (19 city mpg RWD, 18 mpg AWD)
• Overall unsurpassed fuel economy in its class (19 city and 31 highway mpg with RWD)
A particular factor driving that AWD fuel-economy performance—and another Chrysler-only advantage—is the automaker’s unique all-wheel-drive setup. It’s the only system from a major automaker that combines both an active transfer case and technology that automatically disconnects the front axle from the driveline when AWD functionality isn’t needed, helping to maximize fuel efficiency.
The Luxury Series—with both rear- and all-wheel-drive—also is available with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with Chrysler’s Fuel Saver Technology cylinder-deactivation system and dual variable valve timing. It’s not quite as thrifty as the Pentastar but makes up for that by packing some 363 hp and 394 lb.-ft. of torque.
(Note: Technically, the “300 Luxury Series” refers to V6-powered cars, while those with HEMI engines are part of the “300C Luxury Series.”)
The Best-Sounding 300 Ever
Okay, that’s a claim that Chrysler doesn’t make, but it’s certainly feasible for 300 Luxury Series models equipped with the available “Beats by Dr. Dre” sound system. This is the first automotive application of Dre’s proprietary, audiophile-grade audio technologies and was custom-tuned by the good doctor and legendary music producer Jimmy Iovine specifically for the Chrysler 300’s cabin. In the mix here are a 522-watt, 12-channel amplifier and 10 speakers, including three 3.5-inch speakers mounted in the instrument panel, two 3.5-inch speakers located in the rear doors, two 6 x 9-inch front-door woofers, and two 6 x 9-inch speakers and a center-mounted 8-inch speaker located in the rear-shelf area. And there’s plenty of funk in the trunk, courtesy of an 8-inch Beats Audio trunk-mounted dual-voice coil subwoofer with a sealed enclosure.