2012 Chrysler 300

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Key Specs

of the 2012 Chrysler 300. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    18-24 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    292-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 (flexible; E85)
  • Drivetrain:
    Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Responsive eight-speed transmission
  • Increased mileage
  • Handsome interior
  • Ride quality with Touring suspension (V-6)
  • Well-appointed base model
  • Standard touch-screen

The Bad

  • Backseat not as roomy as some competitors
  • Clumsy navigation system
  • Lazy five-speed automatic (with V-8)
  • Small side mirrors

Notable Features of the 2012 Chrysler 300

  • V-6 or V-8 power
  • Newly eight-speed automatic transmission for V-6 models
  • New S trim level
  • Newly optional Beats by Dr. Dre premium audio
  • Standard touch-screen multimedia system
  • RWD or AWD
  • High-performance SRT8 version returns

2012 Chrysler 300 Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

As Kelsey Mays detailed in an earlier review, Chrysler redesigned its 300 full-size sedan for the 2011 model year, bringing the car up to date in all ways except one: Its automatic transmission continued as a five-speed. Now for 2012, the V-6-powered 300 offers a new eight-speed automatic. (See other specs compared.) I'll devote this review to our impressions of the new transmission and the line's new top trim level, called S, and to clarifying the baffling combination of available drivetrains and trim levels.

The 2012 Chrysler 300S V6 with rear-wheel drive impressed us with its responsive new transmission, high mileage and luxury appeal.

For 2012, the new S trim level becomes the 300's top version, joining the base and Limited trims. Previously, V-8 engines were available only on the 300C and the performance-oriented SRT8, covered separately. Now, complicating matters, the 300S version comes with a choice of V-6 or V-8 engines.

Eight Speeds, No Waiting
The 300's eight-speed proves that a transmission with an abundance of gears needn't be sluggish when kicking down to a lower gear for a burst of speed. There's never been any excuse for this kind of behavior, but as transmissions have added more and more gears, it's seemed automakers have often taken their eyes off the basics. In the 300, the transmission upshifts smoothly and almost imperceptibly, with the goal of climbing to higher gears as promptly as possible to maximize gas mileage. For t...

As Kelsey Mays detailed in an earlier review, Chrysler redesigned its 300 full-size sedan for the 2011 model year, bringing the car up to date in all ways except one: Its automatic transmission continued as a five-speed. Now for 2012, the V-6-powered 300 offers a new eight-speed automatic. (See other specs compared.) I'll devote this review to our impressions of the new transmission and the line's new top trim level, called S, and to clarifying the baffling combination of available drivetrains and trim levels.

The 2012 Chrysler 300S V6 with rear-wheel drive impressed us with its responsive new transmission, high mileage and luxury appeal.

For 2012, the new S trim level becomes the 300's top version, joining the base and Limited trims. Previously, V-8 engines were available only on the 300C and the performance-oriented SRT8, covered separately. Now, complicating matters, the 300S version comes with a choice of V-6 or V-8 engines.

Eight Speeds, No Waiting
The 300's eight-speed proves that a transmission with an abundance of gears needn't be sluggish when kicking down to a lower gear for a burst of speed. There's never been any excuse for this kind of behavior, but as transmissions have added more and more gears, it's seemed automakers have often taken their eyes off the basics. In the 300, the transmission upshifts smoothly and almost imperceptibly, with the goal of climbing to higher gears as promptly as possible to maximize gas mileage. For this strategy to work, the transmission has to be quick to downshift so you have power when you need it. The 300's does, especially if you switch from Drive to the automatic Sport mode by rocking the shift knob back once. This keeps the transmission in lower gears and makes the accelerator more responsive, though it's certain to make the car less fuel efficient.

With the new transmission, the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and rear-wheel drive, the 300 nets an EPA-estimated 19/31 mpg city/highway on regular gas, which is exceptionally efficient for the highway and acceptable for the city in this car class. The comparable Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon are rated 18/28 and 19/28 mpg, respectively, in their base versions.

An all-wheel-drive option has returned for the 2012 model year after a one-year hiatus, adding $2,350 to the cost of Limited and S rear-drive models. With all-wheel drive, the 300's rating is 18/27 mpg.

The Black Sheep
We now interrupt this review to explain that there's a black sheep among V-6-powered 2012 Chrysler 300s: Though the new eight-speed transmission is the norm, early in the 2012 model year Chrysler built some base 300 V6 models with the carryover five-speed automatic transmission, so it's possible you'll come across one at a dealership. As of publication, this version sets the base list price of $27,670, excluding the $925 destination charge. The eight-speed adds $1,000 to the price. Limited and S trim levels have gotten only the eight-speed since the 2012 model year began, so their base prices are as reported throughout Cars.com. The straggler five-speed 300 is rated 18/27 mpg with rear-wheel drive.

A tip to distinguish the five-speed from the eight: The five-speed has a more conventional gear selector that slides through a serpentine gate on the center console. The eight-speed has a short, wide electronic knob that you rock forward and back. Incidentally, I'm not wild about the new shifter, but once you learn to operate it, it's not the worst of the electronic controls that are taking over the market. The eight-speed also comes with manual-shift paddles on the steering wheel.

What Makes an S
The S trim level is mostly about exterior and interior attributes and standard features, but there are some mechanical differences, too. The S exterior has body-colored trim where some other versions have chrome, such as under the headlights and on the side mirrors. The headlight clusters incorporate black bezels. The grille is black chrome. If you don't like it, however, Chrysler's Mopar division offers a bunch of different grille designs and finishes.

The S trim also comes with 20-inch bright aluminum wheels accented with gloss-black pockets. Seventeen- through 19- inch rims are also available across the lineup. Even with these large wheels, our 300S test car rode very nicely — not soft, but not so firm as to be out of character for the car. However, this car comes with a touring suspension; if you choose the V-8 version of the 300S, you'll get a performance-tuned suspension, which is sure to ride more firmly. The V-8 version also includes larger brakes, a quicker steering ratio and heavier feel than any other 300 except the SRT8. I think the steering and braking feel has improved over the 300's previous generation, but there's still room for improvement.

Contemporary Interior
The 300S' exclusive interior design is nicely done. In place of wood and other more conventional materials, there are piano black surfaces and patterned metallic-looking trim. The color theme is black, including the ceiling headliner. Heated cloth seats are standard, while our test car had leather, which brings with it power front seats. They bear an "S" logo and white contrast stitching that one of our editors deemed "not very subtle." If that's so, I'm not sure how to describe the optional Radar Red leather interior. Beautiful bright gauges flanking a high-resolution color display spearhead the car's luxury impression.

The 300 also includes the Uconnect Touch system, which relies on an 8.4-inch touch-screen for multifunction control. I'm always happy to see a touch-screen rather than a controller knob, but I have the usual gripe about the navigation system: There aren't enough street labels. Also, one of our editors pointed out that the navigation's maps and menus are lower in resolution than the Uconnect Touch system as a whole. One time, the map froze up and wouldn't return until I stopped and restarted the car. At least Ford's notoriously buggy MyFord Touch system reboots itself without requiring you to restart the engine.

Though it's priced $1,000 above the Limited, all the 300S V6 adds in the way of standard equipment, apart from the features already mentioned, is a Beats premium stereo.

However, the V-8 version of the 300S adds many features available only in option packages with the smaller engine: a backup camera, adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, footwell lighting, satin-chrome doorsills, HomeLink, heated rear seats, a heated, powered tilt/telescoping steering wheel, premium carpet, a powered rear-window shade, automatic-high-beam headlights, and heated and cooled cupholders. See the trim levels compared.

Loaded with these features, our test car hit $40,700 including a $925 destination charge. With rear-wheel drive, the 300S V8 starts at $40,595, and with every possible option — including an extensive Mopar package — the price tops out at $52,780.

Safety
With top scores in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as a top roof-strength score, the 300 is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It also earned five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard features include a full complement of front and side airbags, active head restraints and the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Click here for a full list.

The 300 Limited and V-8-powered S include a backup camera; it comes in an option package on the 300S V6. An optional safety package available on all but the base 300 includes adaptive headlights that swivel a few degrees in the direction of a turn, a blind spot warning system, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning.

Like most vehicles, including considerably larger ones, the 300 accommodates two rather than three child-safety seats in the backseat. See the full Car Seat Check.

300 in the Market
Several years ago, following a period of dreadful reliability from which it hadn't exactly extricated itself, Chrysler announced that it was taking the brand into luxury territory. I thought their execs must be taking very powerful drugs, because to me the right way to raise a brand's quality and prestige is slowly and visibly, not by decree — something Volkswagen accomplished over decades. Since then, Chrysler has been making steady improvements, and the 300 is indeed luxurious — the most luxurious Chrysler in history, or at least of the modern era.

Send Joe an email  



2012 300 Video

The 300 has been Chrysler's flagship sedan for eight years, and its 2012 redesign moves the sedan into full-fledged luxury territory, according to Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder.

Latest 2012 300 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.9)
Comfort
(5.0)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

It is the most comfortable traveling car owned!

by AJ from Little Rock Ar. on August 2, 2018

The car drive great! My husband is in a wheelchair and it gives him leg room and we can easily store his chair in the huge trunk: we absolutely love it! I wish we could have afforded a new one instead ... Read full review

(5.0)

Awesome car

by Chrysler from Saint Cloud Minnesota on July 3, 2018

I?ve owned this car since 2013, the most reliable car I have owned. Put over 100k on and only have had to change the oil and buy tires. Might look into a newer model when I decide to upgrade. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Chrysler 300 currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Chrysler 300 Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Chrysler

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, Carfax vehicle history report, rental car and 24-hour towing, and first day rental

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years/100,000 mile warranty on all certified vehicles
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 125 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The 300 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker