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#4

in 2011 Affordable Large Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,806 - $24,303
Original MSRP: $27,170 - $40,320
MPG: 16 City / 25 Hwy
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2011 Chrysler 300 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

A new base engine is the big news for the 2011 Chrysler 300, as its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 offers 114 more horsepower than the 2.7-liter V6 that came with base 2010 models. Reviewers like the power boost, but say that the drivetrain currently falls short due to its outdated transmission – a problem that will be remedied later this year, as Chrysler plans to equip V6 models with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Still, 300C models have ample power and torque, thanks to a standard 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

Handling is generally considered comfortable, and the big 300 corners better than one might expect. However, more than one review notes that opting for the stiffer Touring suspension and 20-inch wheels will result in a harsh ride over less-than-perfect road surfaces.

An all-wheel drive option is available on the 300C, but not on base or Limited models.

  • "As before, fuel-saver technology shuts down four cylinders when the car is cruising, but you won't be buying the 300C to save fuel.” -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The big sedan never felt slow and the powertrain never felt taxed. Driven hard, the V6 remained composed and refined even when revved to redline.” -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The big news under the hood of the 2011 Chrysler 300 is the new base engine. Gone are the 2.7 and 3.5-liter V6 engines that used to propel base and Limited models. A new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 vastly improves power in 300s not equipped with the V8. The new V6 generates 292 horsepower, and reviewers generally note that most shoppers will find it has more than enough power. Still, those looking for the most straight-line acceleration can opt for the 5.7-liter V8, which puts out 360 horsepower. The V8 comes as standard equipment on 300C models, which can be had in either rear- or all-wheel drive configurations.

Currently, a five-speed automatic transmission has been carried over through the redesign to put power to the ground on both models. Reviewers generally don't like this transmission, saying that it doesn't make adequate use of the power available in the V6. An eight-speed automatic is expected to be available for V6-powered 300s by the end of this year – reviewers are looking forward to the new gearbox, as it will likely improve power and fuel economy.

According to the EPA, V6-powered 300s get 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while V8 cars get 16/25 mpg and 15/23 mpg for rear- and all-wheel drive models, respectively. Shoppers looking for an affordable large car with better fuel averages would do well to check out the Toyota Avalon, which gets 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

  • "Another bummer is the carryover five-speed automatic, a severely dated device with unpredictable responses that does not make the most of the Pentastar's very flat torque curve. Chrysler has confirmed that a ZF eight-speed automatic, the very one used by the big guys in Germany, is on its way, but only for the V-6, not the Hemi. Cannot. Come. Quickly. Enough.” -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 will surprise and delight folks. While we love the 300C and the 5.7-liter Hemi that makes 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, our choice for overall refinement, fuel economy and not to mention going easier on the wallet is the V6. Even driving in the rolling hills southeast of San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border, the V6 easily accelerated to triple-digit speeds--going uphill.” -- AutoWeek
  • "Although the five-speed automatic does allow for manual shifting, it has no dedicated manual shift gate. As in the previous-generation 300, the driver taps the lever left and right from its resting place in D to shift, but the new 300’s taller center console gets in the way -- not that using the function is particularly satisfying anyhow.” -- Car and Driver 
  • "Both powertrains feel entirely adequate in the new 300, although you'll miss the Hemi's emphatic urge if you drive the cars back-to-back.” -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The 3.6-liter 300 moves out quickly enough, with stronger power as the tach needle moves to the right. I look forward to Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic transmission, which will grace the V-6 300 by year’s end to the rumored tune of 30 mpg highway. The current transmission -- a carryover five-speed automatic -- upshifts smoothly, but it comes up stingy on the downshifts, particularly on curvy roads.” -- Cars.com
  • "A new all-wheel-drive system automatically defaults to rear-wheel-drive for fuel-efficient normal driving, but engages the front wheels as needed.” -- CNET 
  • "At times, the throttle felt lazy, requiring lots of pedal travel to summon the desired level of thrust. We believe that engineers purposely mapped the throttle in this manner to elicit the best fuel economy possible.” -- Autoblog 
  • "Both engines must dance with the 5-speed automatic born when the Macarena was still considered funny; its 8-speed replacement should come online in a few months.” -- Jalopnik

Handling and Braking

The Chrysler 300 features a ride that’s generally geared more for comfort than sporty handling. Still, reviewers note that the 300 handles well for its size. Upgrading to 20-inch wheels or all-wheel drive adds the Touring package, which offers better cornering ability. Reviewers generally note that while 300s with the stiffer springs and 20-inch wheels do handle better, they also have a firmer, less compliant ride that may not be comfortable over rough road surfaces.

  • "As for handling, the 300 drives smaller than it is, with good body control; a creamy and controlled ride; and meaty, precise steering. The brake pedal on the 300 has really nice modulation and excellent response, inspiring confidence during our drives in the foothills of southern San Diego County.” -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Opt for the 20-inch wheels or all-wheel drive, and the upgrade to Touring is included. Caution is recommended, though, as pairing the stiffer legs with 20-inch wheels results in untoward crashing over large pavement pocks.” -- Car and Driver 
  • "The ride offers poise completely in keeping with the car's newfound gentility." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "Optional 20-inch wheels and a firmer Touring suspension improve on this, with flatter cornering and quicker steering to suit the car’s impressive dynamics. The 300 feels less like a sport sedan than, say, a Hyundai Genesis, but you’ll drive more confidently with the Touring setup. The trade-off comes in a firmer ride -- it picks up more rhythm over bumpy pavement -- and higher steering effort around parking lots, but I didn’t find either aspect objectionably bad.” -- Cars.com 
  • "Engineers also did a solid job on the 300's electrically assisted power steering (EPAS). Steering effort is spot on (not too heavy or light) but the wheel lacks the level of feel and feedback of our favorite vehicle with EPAS, the 2011 Shelby GT500.” -- Autoblog 
  • "On the twists near the border with the engine's ancestral Mexican homeland, the 300C hustled around curves dutifully, with no drama for the Border Patrol spectators. If it feels perhaps a tick less lightfooted than the all-wheel-drive Taurus, the 300 at least provides some polite idea of road feel, more than could be said for the Hyundai Genesis that Chrysler provided for comparison driving and post-lunch naps.” -- Jalopnik

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