By Greg Zyla
This issue, we’re driving fhe flagship of the Chrysler family, its 2013 Chrysler 300. This full-size, rear wheel drive luxury sport sedan is high on handling, power, roominess and fuel economy, with 31 highway the EPA estimate.
Powered by Chrysler’s heralded 3.6-liter 24 valve V6, there’s more than enough power to outweigh the advantages of ordering your 300 with a Hemi V8 engine instead, where EPA highway numbers drop to 27.
All of the new Chrysler 300’s come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, something Chrysler has perfected way before the other American manufacturers. Nowadays, and even more so than the actual engine, it is the transmission that allows for both peppy acceleration and the low rpm excellent highway EPA numbers.
Not surprisingly, former co-op owner Mercedes-Benz offers eight speed automatics, as does Porsche and BMW. However, the best to expect from the other two of the “big three” stateside builders is that General Motors and Ford will have 8-speeds by 2016. Chrysler, thus, has everyone beat again just like they did with their minivan back in 1984.
This ZF designed 8-speed transmission was first used by Chrysler in the 2012 Chargers and 300s with the same 292-horsepower V6 engine offering 260 lb. ft. of torque. ZF is a worldwide corporation with roots back to Germany in 1915 producing gearwheels and transmissions for the Zeppelin airships up to a present day international group supplying driveline and chassis technology to the automotive industry. (ZF recently built a new plant in South Carolina)
Our tester 300 achieved zero to 60 in about seven seconds, and then cruised the freeway at 70 mph with the engine at about 1500 rpm’s. All through the eight speeds, our 300 was a joy to drive and is way faster than expected.
And what’s in Chrysler’s future, you might ask? How about a Chrysler ZF designed nine-speed automatic that is right around the corner. Notable is that all Chrysler transmissions will be built in Kokomo, Indiana with ZF blessing.
Our tester came with $4,185 in options, specifically a $3,000 customer preferred package that adds 20-inch tires and chrome wheels, an upgraded touring suspension (loved it), two-tone leather seats; $1495 522-amp Motown power and sound group with 10 speakers, backup camera and more; and a $995 Uconnect Navigation with one year of Sirius Satellite.
With all this said, Chrysler 300 is one of the best test drives we’ve incurred this year, and it receives a 5-Star “Test Drive” recommendation.
One irony? The fact that Chrysler markets the 300 as a “Motown” or “Imported from Detroit” vehicle when it’s actually constructed in Canada — which is right across the river from Motown so no real harm done.