I can pretty much sum up my feelings about the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 in two words:
The SRT8 is one spectacular car. I was never really a huge fan of the Chrysler 300 styling. It’s one of those love/hate designs. It’s big and bulky and while some folks find it appealing, I was never one of them. Chrysler did some tweaking this year and I find it a little nicer.
But it’s not the styling that impressed me. It was everything else. The SRT8 version reminded me of a 1960s muscle car. One of those sedans that had an optional huge engine thrown into the engine bay. Only the SRT8 has 60s muscle with modern refinements.
Let’s start with the engine. It has a 6.4 liter HEMI V8 that pumps out 470 hp/470 pound-feet of torque. My standard method of testing acceleration is on the freeway off-ramp in the morning. It’s a metered ramp that requires you to come to a full stop and then a direct blast up to 65 mph. The first morning I hit the gas the wheels began to spin and I began to grin. They didn’t spin for long. The SRT8’s new launch control kicked in and I was off. I was tempted to leave the freeway at every off-ramp and try it again but that would make for a long (but exhilarating) trip. It really doesn’t matter what speed you’re traveling. Push the gas pedal and you can feel the power. It may only have a five speed transmission, but I never felt it was lacking. Chrysler also brags about the HEMI Fuel Saver technology that helps the car get 14 mpg highway/23 mpg city. Averaging 17 mpg is pretty good for a car that weights nearly 4400 pounds and has that much horsepower.
Inside you can keep track of the SRT8’s performance with the full color Electronic Vehicle Information Center. It’s an 8.4 inch touch screen that works very well. The SRT8 has slimmed down the dash buttons and moved the vast majority of what you’ll need into the EVIC. You just have to pray it never breaks down. Fortunately, it’s not buggy at all. More importantly, it’s loaded with fun stuff. My favorite was the page that allowed you to time your 0-60 speeds while showing you your last and your best time. It also showed your 1/4 mile ET. That’s the kind of thing that could get me in a lot of trouble. But there’s more. EVIC also has a page to measure G forces, both side to side and front to back. Other pages show you steering input, horsepower, torque and various engine gauges. You can even customize the graphic to make it look just like your own car. I loved it.
You can enjoy it all will sitting in the optional soft touch leather seats. The cabin has just the right mix of sport and luxury. The carbon fiber dash and center console treatments hit the spot. One of the neatest gadget were cup holders that had switches for both heating and cooling. They actually work.
The SRT8 had three suspension settings: normal, sport and track. Often times when I’m testing cars, I can’t really tell much difference between the settings because I’m not running the car through a slalom or a track test. This was one of the few cars I could feel the settings in everyday driving. It has big Brembo brakes with vented rotors to bring that 470 hp under control. The SRT8 also has a Ready Alert Braking system that slows the car down when you’re just a little too close. I liked it. It came on when I needed it and didn’t bother me the rest of the time.
SRT8 owners will also get a bonus. Chrysler is offering the SRT Track Experience which features a full day of driving instruction. This is the kind of car that deserves a driver who understands its potential.
OK, now the downside. All this fun isn’t cheap. Base price for the SRT8 is $47,820. My fully loaded test car reached $58,745. That’s a lot of money, but it delivers a lot of fun. More importantly, everything works. The power, the brakes, the interior and the gadgets. Lots of cars try to pull that off, but few do.
The SRT8 was one of the few cars that I enjoyed getting into every day. When it finally came time to return the it, I felt mixed emotions. I knew that I’d wake up the next morning wishing it was still in my driveway. On the other hand, my odds of getting a ticket went down drastically.