2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Introduction
For many more discerning drivers, there’s more to a luxury car than plush leather, woolen carpets, the latest electronics, a quiet ride, and exemplary customer service. There’s a particularly discerning group of motorists out here for whom all those things are definitely on the list, but it’s incomplete without ground pounding, pavement melting, tire shredding power!
Enter the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8.
Capable of converting its rear tires into clouds of blue smoke at will, as if filming the opening of a film called “Prepubescent Boys Gone Wild”, Chrysler’s flagship bookends mind numbing performance with the type of coddling usually reserved for the world’s most exclusive sedans and a relatively affordable price.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
Itself a trim level of the Chrysler 300 series, the 300 SRT8 is essentially the top of the line for the 300 model. However, for the 2013 model year, Chrysler is offering the SRT8 in two formats; SRT8 Core with a starting price of $44,250 and SRT8 (our test car) starting at $49,250.
Destination and handling charges of $995 apply to both.
Spending the extra $5000 for the SRT8 over the SRT8 Core garners a one-year SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link subscription, an adaptive suspension system, reverse-tilting exterior rear view mirrors, and Adaptive Bi-Xenon headlamps with automatic leveling. The SRT8 also gets a cargo net, doorsill scuff pads, lower LED interior lamps for the driver and passengers, and an auto dimming exterior rear view mirror for the driver.
Fog lights, LED illuminated map pockets, navigation system, heated/cooled cup holders in the front console, a heated steering wheel, and leather-trimmed seats figure into the SRT8 feature set (SRT8 Core uses cloth seats); as does memory for the radio, the power adjustable steering wheel/column, driver’s seat, exterior mirrors, and adjustable pedals.
The SRT8 also flaunts rain sensing windshield wipers, carbon fiber interior accents, remote start, silver brake calipers, a mat for the floor of the trunk, a universal garage door opener, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 276-watt amplifier driving six premium speakers.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Design
The styling of the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 is a conservative evolution of the well-received “flying brick” design of its 300C predecessor (introduced in 2004 as a 2005 model). For the transition, Chrysler’s designers reworked the grille, softened the brick’s edges and affixed an all-new winged Chrysler badge.
With a stance a half-inch lower than the standard Chrysler 300 series cars, the 2013 300 SRT8 looks intensely aggressive—particularly when the Black Chrome package’s black chrome upper and lower grille surrounds, rear valance strip and Black Vapor Chrome wheels are fitted to the car. Those features, working in concert with the body-colored side-sills help the 300 SRT8 look ”glued to the ground”, and telegraph the outstanding performance and handling potential of the car.
Out back, the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 features a unique body-colored lower fascia with a chrome accent bar—along with round four-inch dual exhaust tips and a SRT8 deck-lid badge. For 2013, the badge is once again rendered in red, silver and black, as opposed to 2012 iteration’s silver and black SRT8 badge.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
Nicely bridging the car’s two missions in life; that of a world-class performance sedan and a luxuriously comfortable executive transporter, our test 300 SRT8’s interior treatment melds a compelling blend of comfort and technology. From the leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel, to the four heated seats, the 300 SRT8 looks after its occupants in high fashion.
By the way, control buttons for nearly every convenience feature of the 300 SRT8 are located on that steering wheel. And, in addition to heat, the front seats are also ventilated to provide respite from sweaty-backside syndrome on hot summer days.
Interior storage is plentiful, as is legroom for all four occupants. Trunk space is similarly generous at 16.3 cubic feet.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Carbon fiber is spread generously around the interior of our 300 SRT8 test car, trimming as it does the instrument panel, door panels and the surround for the shift lever. A huge 8.4-inch full-color display monitor dominates the dash. In addition to the usual climate, navigation, and audio system readouts, the display also houses an entire suite of performance-oriented gauges measuring everything from the transmission fluid’s temperature to the number of .G’s you and the 300 SRT8 pulled in that last corner.
The premium leather package swathes the upper door trim panels, instrument panel, and center console side panels in ultra-high grade leather. A more modest grade of leather upholsters the door bolsters, armrests, and the center console’s armrest.
Standard features include Chrysler’s voice activated telematics system; Uconnect, which incorporates Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming. Garmin supplies software for the navigation system and the optional SiriusXM Travel Link system provides real-time weather, fuel prices, sports scores, and movie theater information. Additionally, real time traffic information is supplied via SiriusXM Traffic.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Without question, the heart and soul of the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is its 6.4-liter V8. Producing 45 more horsepower and 50 more ft-lbs of torque than the 6.1-liter engine it replaced in previous iteration of the car in 2012, the newly invigorated HEMI launches the big sedan with ease and keeps it running happily well into extra-legal speeds.
Chrysler’s engineers fitted an active intake manifold and paired it with a phase shifting high lift cam system to optimize both low-end torque and high-end horsepower. There’s also a new active valve exhaust system, which works in concert with the Fuel Saver Technology cylinder deactivation system to produce 21 percent better fuel economy than the 6.1 was capable of. Run wide open, the exhaust system, in essence, bypasses the mid and rear mufflers to enable the engine to breathe more freely, as well as amplify the robust sound of the V8 under full throttle.
On the other hand though, the new HEMI is mated to the old five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift function. Paddles mounted behind the steering wheel control its manual shifts. The transmission offers two modes, Normal and Sport, and can be shifted manually in either. In the normal mode, shifts are “geared —if you will—more toward the comfort end of the spectrum. In the sport mode shifts happen more aggressively and gears are held longer to help the engine generate either as much speed or braking as needed to negotiate more challenging maneuvers.
Fuel consumption is quoted at 14 mpg in the city/23 mpg on the highway and 17 combined.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
So how does it go?
The big Chrysler accelerates with extreme urgency, stops with determined alacrity and corners with otherworldly agility; all while maintaining a body attitude free from roll, dive or excessive squat. After a good hard run in the big Chrysler, walking away from it, you’ll look back and marvel at how a car that large can thread narrow two-lane winding mountain roads so well.
On the freeway, you don’t have to ride behind anyone you don’t wish to be behind. Even the smallest openings in traffic are readily exploitable, thanks to what we came to term the “rocketeering on demand” nature of the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8. In addition, thanks to the amazingly well bolstered sport seats, the Chrysler’s comfort over long distances is absolutely assured. There is more than adequate legroom for all four occupants, even the usually unlucky one who draws the seat behind a taller driver.
While most cars in the Chrysler’s category have gone to electric power steering to reduce weight, parasitic losses, and fuel consumption, the 300 SRT8 still relies upon what Chrysler terms as “proven” hydraulic power steering. And while we love the feel and accuracy of it, whenever a car company feels the need to interject the word “proven” ahead of a technology it employs, you can pretty much also read that word as code for dated.
Which certainly applies to the five-speed transmission with which the mighty 6.4-liter HEMI V8 is saddled (it’s also referred to as “proven”). First of all, there’s a reason the rest of the world has gone to six, seven, and even eight-speed transmissions: in a word, that reason is efficiency. Those higher gear ratios enable better fuel economy. Additionally, more modern units permit matched rev downshifts in their manual modes helping to slow the car more smoothly.
Alas, none of this is available to the 300 SRT8—as of yet.
Still, the Chrysler delivers an engaging driving experience along with a smooth and comfortable ride when relegated to domestic activities. For 2013, Chrysler has reworked the SRT8’s suspension system to incorporate a driver selectable three-mode active damping system. Consisting of “Auto, “Sport” and “Track”, the modes enable the driver to select the degree of firmness exhibited by the suspension system.
The “Auto” mode calculates overall vehicle speed, steering angle and speed, braking inputs, throttle inputs, and lateral acceleration to determine the amount of compliance the suspension system exhibits. In steady state driving it returns a smooth and comfortable ride. When the performance parameters escalate, the system increases firmness accordingly to accentuate handling characteristics. In the sport and track modes, handling is emphasized over ride, with the least suspension compliance observed in the track mode.
A launch control system was also fitted to the 300 SRT8 for 2013 to improve the car’s acceleration from a standing start.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Safety/Ratings
From keyless entry and start to Forward Collision Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring, the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 carries the state of the art in safety and security tech. Additionally, standard front-row reactive head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain airbags, a driver’s knee bag, and standard front seat-mounted side-thorax airbags offer a high degree of protection in practically every conceivable type of collision.
To help avoid accidents in the first place, the 300 SRT8 benefits from Chrysler’s optional SafetyTec Group. This suite of features is comprised of adaptive-forward lighting, which swings the throw of the headlights in the direction of the Chrysler’s intended path of travel in concert with the movements of the steering wheel. Lighting up the night, the system employs high-intensity discharge projector high and low beams with automatic headlamp leveling. Rounding out its luminance package, LED-illuminated rear fog lamps, exterior mirrors with supplemental turn signals, and approach lamps give the 300 SRT8 an added safety edge after sunset.
Forward Collision Warning uses the adaptive cruise control system’s sensors to trigger an alarm if a collision seems imminent. The 300’s Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection, warn a driver if there is a car in the blind spot next to the Chrysler. It also warns the driver if an object is about to enter the 300’s path of travel when backing. Meanwhile, the ParkSense front and rear park assist system makes it easier to squeeze the big Chrysler into tight spaces without scratching its paint.
The IIHS rated the 300 “good” (its top rating) in frontal offset, side impact and roof-strength testing. NHTSA awarded the Chrysler five stars in front-impact and side-impact protection.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
Every now and then a car comes along with the capability of doing it all. It’s no simple task to produce a well handling car with outstanding braking, acceleration and superlative steering — which is also spacious and rides comfortably. It’s even more difficult to do it at the price point at which Chrysler offers the 300 SRT8.
Of course, all is not apples and sunshine; the Chrysler’s transmission is archaic, it goes through gas like a frat house goes through kegs of beer, and Chrysler’s product planners were forced to overlook a few modern efficiencies in their quest to keep the cost down. Most notably, this is revealed in the continued reliance upon hydraulic power steering in an age in which even Porsche has gone electric for the venerable 911.
Still though, if performance is your thing but you have to show up looking respectable every now and then; pound for pound, dollar for dollar, there’s really no other car housing the Chrysler’s generous portfolio of attributes—well, save one, the 300’s Dodge Charger SRT8 cousin.
But that’s another story, and a different review.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Outstanding performance potential
• Exceptional comfort
• Generous complement of tech features
• Relatively reasonable pricing
• Low fuel economy
• Gas-guzzler tax
• Potentially expensive insurance
• Dated transmission
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