Chrysler 300C earns big boost in Consumer Reports ratings

Chrysler 300C

Chrysler 300C

YONKERS, NY — The auto testing staff of Consumer Reports magazine has put four upscale sedans through their paces, rated them all “excellent, ” and was surprised to find major improvements in the 2012 Chrysler 300C.

The upgraded 2012 Chrysler received a score of 80, up from the 64 earned by the previous model. That moved it from near bottom to mid-pack among the 10 comparable sedans that have been examined by the staff.

The magazine’s engineers and editors have called it “the best Chrysler sedan we’ve seen in decades.”

Tops among the four test vehicles in the current review was the Hyundai Genesis. It has been upgraded for 2012  and has been the No. 1 choice of Consumer Reports since 2009. The other two sedans to achieve the top rating were the Toyota Avalon and the Acura TL.

The testers praised the Chrysler’s powerful 5.7-liter, 363-horsepower V-8 engine, but were not impressed by its overall fuel consumption of 18 miles per gallon.

As a result, they felt many buyers might prefer a 300 with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine.

Besides the engine, the testers noted that the 2012 Chrysler ($44,370 as tested) rides and handles better than its predecessor, and is quieter and more luxurious. In addition, they found the five-speed automatic transmission to be a smooth shifter and praised the sedan’s strong brakes.

The tested 2012 Hyundai Genesis ($39,850) is powered by an upgraded 3.8-liter, 333-horsepower V-6 engine matched to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.  They combined to produce an overall 23 mpg average. Braking was rated very good and the ride was found to be softer and more comfortable.

The reviewers’ conclusion: The Genesis is a $50,000 car for $40,000.

The magazine staff reported that the quality of the Toyota Avalon ($36,628 as tested) is so good it could pass for the Japanese manufacturer’s upscale Lexus. Its 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V-6 engine teamed with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission to produce an overall 23 mpg.

The brakes and seat got good marks too, but the rear seats were thought to be a bit cramped. The testers praised the large trunk and small pass-through to accommodate long, narrow items, but also noted that the rear seatback does not fold forward to increase cargo space.

The Acura TL ($36,465 as tested) did not stand out among the test cars, but was found to be well-rounded overall with a generally quiet cabin and and a firm, yet supple ride.

The 3.5-liter, 280-horsepower V-6 engine returned an overall 24 mpg when mated to a smooth and quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Brakes were rated “very good.”

The testers praised the interior materials and large trunk, but noted that the trunk has a small opening.

Complete reports on the sedans can be found in the November issue of Consumer Reports, now on sale, and are available to subscribers at www.ConsumerReprts.org.