2009 Chrysler 300 Review

2009 Chrysler 300 - SRT-Great


<a href='/usedcars/Chrysler/300/2009/'>2009 Chrysler 300</a>C SRT8PROS  Brutal acceleration, Great passenger and cargo room, Likely to be collectible

CONS  Lackluster fuel economy, Poor outward visibility

MSince 1993, there's been one constant at Chrysler Corporation-world-class large cars. Kicked off by the revolutionary cab-forward Chrysler Concord and Doge Intrepid and succeeded by the award-hogging Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger/Magnum twins, Chrysler's full-size sedans have led the way in terms of room, road manners, and overall refinement in the mass-market large car class.

So, it's no shock that we get word that the corporation's full-size sedans will lead the charge forward for the new Chrysler Corporation in the form of redesigned 2010 models. There's even talk that new corporate partner Fiat will use Chrysler's full-size-car platform for future Alfa Romeo products.

Sharing the same platform as the Dodge Charger, the Chrysler 300 plays in the upper end of the traditional large sedan market. The 300 is a four-door sedan that seats five passengers on front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench. It competes with vehicles like the Buick Lucerne, Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS, and Toyota Avalon.

The 300 comes in Touring, Touring Signature, Limited, 300C, and 300C SRT8 trim. All except the 300C SRT8 are available with rear- or all-wheel drive. The 300C SRT8 comes only with rear-wheel drive.

Touring models get a 178-hosrepower 2.7-liter V6 engine. Touring Signature and Limited get a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The 300C gets a 4.7-liter version of Chrysler's "HEMI" V8 that makes 359 horsepower and comes standard with cylinder deactivation, which is designed to increase highway fuel economy. The line-topping 300C SRT8 gets a 6.1-liter HEMI V8 that makes 425 horsepower. The 2.7-liter plays only with a four-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5 gets either a four- or five-speed automatic and the V8s come only with a five-speed auto. All models except the Touring come standard with traction control.

The Touring model starts at $26,915 and includes dual front airbags, four-wheel disc brakes, tire-pressure monitor, air conditioning, tilt-telescope steering wheel, cruise control, eight-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, center console, split-folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, illuminated visor mirrors, rear defogger, floormats, theft-deterrent system, 215/65R17 tires, and alloy wheels.

Touring Signature pricing starts at $29,935 and that model adds to the Touring traction control, antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power mirrors, satellite radio, and fog lights..

Vehicle Tested

2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8
Base Price:
As-Tested Price: $50,520
Built in Ontario, Canada. 


Special Paint
SRT Option Group 1
SRT Option Group 2
High-Performance Speakers
uconnect Group
Gas Guzzler Tax

Engine: OHV 6.1-liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: rear-wheel drive

Limited models start at $34,720 and add to the Touring Signature wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, power passenger seat, power-adjustable pedals, wood interior trim, AM/FM radio with in-dash six-disc CD/MP3 changer, trip computer, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, outside-temperature indicator, universal garage door opener, automatic headlights, touring suspension, 225/60R18 tires, and chrome alloy wheels.

The 300C starts at $37135 and adds to the Limited power tilt-telescope steering wheel with radio controls, memory system (driver seat, mirrors, steering wheel, pedals),
Boston Acoustics sound system, tilt-down back-up-aid mirrors with driver-side automatic day/night, remote engine start, rain-sensing wipers, and self-dimming headlights.

The SRT8 lists for $44,160 and adds to the 300C limited-slip differential, more powerful brakes, performance suspension, rear-obstacle-detection system, leather/suede upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sunroof, hard drive, HID headlights, and 245/45ZR20 tires.

Options include curtain-side airbags, front-side airbags, navigation system, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, rear-view camera, iPod adapter, uconnect multimedia suite, mobile satellite TV, and adaptive cruise control. Available on the Touring Signature and 300C is a six-inch wheelbase stretch that is intended for fleet and livery service. All 300s carry a $750 destination charge and are assembled in Ontario, Canada.

Get up and Go  No doubt about it, 300C SRT8 is fast. How fast? Chrysler claims the SRT8 will race from 0-60 mph in just about 5 seconds. That's sports-car fast and with just a few minutes behind the wheel, there's no reason to doubt that number.

The 6.1-liter V8 has ample power for any situation and will easily spin the rear wheels at any speed under 20 mph--as long as the traction control is turned off. In addition the V8 sports a lumpy idle and growling exhaust note that's fitting of a car with sporting intensions.

2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8As impressive as the SRT8's initial acceleration is the highway passing response. Two-lane passing response from 50 to 70 mph is simply mind blowing and harkens back to the days of 400+ cubic-inch V8s from the late Sixties. Simply stomp on the gas pedal and away you go . . .

Big displacement and high horsepower don't normally translate to good fuel economy and the Chrysler 300C SRT8 is no exception. Though the quick-reacting 5-speed automatic is constantly shifting to the most fuel-efficient gear, EPA estimates for 300C SRT8 are 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Compounding matters is Chrysler's claim that the 6.1-liter V6 requires expensive premium-grade fuel for best performance.

Thankfully, the amount of gas you actually burn with the SRT8 depends greatly on how heavily you dip into the throttle. Given a light right foot and lots of gentile cruising, you should be able to average close to 20 mpg in routine commuting. Stomp on the gas though and your fuel economy is sure to plummet.

On the Road  When Chrysler Corporation's SRT team enhances a vehicle, it doesn't just focus on acceleration. According to Dan Knott, Director of Street and Racing Technology, "The SRT approach is multi-dimensional. Starting with the basic rear-drive chassis found under the Chrysler 300C, SRT engineers included specially tuned dampers, custom spring rates, firmer suspension bushings, and thicker anti-sway bars in the SRT8. Behind each of the 20-inch wheels sits a 4-piston Brembo caliper and vented rotor. To help high-speed stability, ride height was lowered one-half inch.

All of these enhancements create a vehicle that's fun, but not punishing, to drive. The steering has a nice heft without being overly heavy at parking speeds. The brakes have ample stopping power and seem completely resistant to any fade even in repeated hard stops. And, the suspension and tires provide a fantastic blend of road holding and ride compliance while staying perfectly matched to the car's 4100 curb weight.

When driven hard, the 300C SRT8's front tires lose grip first--classic understeer--but that can easily be balanced with a slight application of throttle. Too much gas will result in dramatic oversteer, but that's half the fun--as long as it is intended.

It should be noted that the standard three-season tires are not intended for use on snow or in cold climates, where the rubber compound becomes overly hard and provides less traction. Chrysler offers all-season tires as an option.

NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2009 Chrysler 300

Front Impact, Driver  5 stars
Front Impact, Passenger 5 stars
Side Impact, Driver NA
Side Impact, Rear Passenger NA
Rollover Resistance 4 stars

Road noise and the exhaust note can grow intrusive at times. However, the SRT8 cruises quite serenly at highway speeds with only a hint of wind rush and tire roar.

Behind the Wheel  The 300C SRT8 offers plenty of room for four large adults, five in a pinch--though an especially intrusive driveline hump eliminates leg room for the rear-seat middle passenger. There's ample leg and head room front and rear--though taller folks will want to forget about the optional sunroof, which eats into headroom. Seats are comfortable first, supportive second. SRT8's seats are more formfitting than most and, due to the suede inserts, plenty grippy in the twistys.

Drivers may object to the low roofline and thick pillars which block outward visibility. Though the interior is not as claustrophobic as a Hummer H3 or Toyota FJ Cruiser, it's certainly going to cause concern for more than a few owners.

Interior materials are impressive given the price point and the vehicle's mission. The design is sporty without being cartoonish and functional without being drab. Gauges are functional and quite easy to read. The center stack features simple and straightforward radio and climate controls and ancillary controls for the windows and mirrors are, as god intended them, on the driver-door armrest.

Interior storage and trunk space are on par for the class. The trunk has expensive-looking articulated hinges that don't intrude on cargo space, and the available split-folding rear seats fold nearly flat. However, the trunk opening is small and that makes it difficult to load bulky objects or more than two large suitcases.

Bottom Line  The 300C SRT8's primary mission is to be a large, family sedan--albeit one with a serious attitude. Simply put, there is no other car on the market (foreign or domestic) that better accomplishes this assignment.

All 300 models offer a great balance of performance, comfort, and room and the fact that they are available with rear- or all-wheel drive and four different engines makes them all the more desirable to a wider class of buyer.

The folks at Street and Racing Technologies have done a masterful job of making the 300C SRT8 fast, reasonably affordable, and fun to drive without making it unbearable to live with on a daily basis. Yes, the ride is firmer than one might expect, but it never grows harsh. Yes, the exhaust note is throaty, but it seems perfectly in tune with the car's performance.

If you are in the market for a large four-door sedan with a performance flair, you don' necessarily need to shop the imports, the 300C SRT8 is more than up to the task.

Specifications, 2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8

4-door sedan



Wheelbase, in. 


Size, liters/cu. in. 

6.1 / 370

Length, in. 


Horsepower @ rpm 

425 @ 6000

Width, in. 


Torque (lb-ft) @ rpm 

420 @ 4800

Height, in.



6-speed automatic

Weight, lbs. 


EPA Estimates, mpg

13 city / 19 highway

Cargo Capacity, cu. ft. 


Fuel Capacity, gals. 


Manufacturer's Warranty

Seating Capacity



3 years / 36,000 miles

Front Head Room, in. 



Limited Lifetime

Front Leg Room, in. 



5 years / 100,000 miles

Second-Row Head Room, in. 


Free Roadside Assistance 

3 years / 36,000 miles

Second-Row Leg Room, in. 


Free Scheduled Maintenance


Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.