2012 Chrysler 300C AWD review: Just the ordinary…

2012 Chrysler 300C AWD

2012 Chrysler 300C AWD

Is this the new 2012 Chrysler 300 with the V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission? Nope. Then maybe it’s the all-new Chrysler 300S, in either V-6 or V-8, with upgraded suspension and black chrome trim? Uh-uh. Well, is it the new 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury, with the ultra-premium leather and other touches, equaling the premier makes and models in its size class? And it’s not the uber-power Chrysler 300 SRT8? Nah. And nah. So it’s…just the ordinary 2012 Chrysler 300C, although with all-wheel drive, making it the 300C AWD.

Of course, with a base price of $40,820 and optioned up on our test model to $47,655, it’s not ordinary in the ordinary sense. If this is a garden variety 300C, the Chrysler 300C is a rather nice garden.

There’s a window sticker for our test 2012 Chrysler 300C AWD on page three of this review, so we won’t force feed a list of features here. But we’ll cherry pick a few, including heated and ventilated front seats plus heated back seats; Chrysler’s Uconnect system with a 8.4-inch touch screen and AM/FM/SAT/CD/MP3/SD card audio, Garmin navigation and rear view camera; heated, real-wood and leather steering wheel; memory for all the power stuff; heated and cooled front cupholders that really do heat and cool; rain sensitive wipers; bi-Xenon headlamps with the now-obligatory-for-premium LED driving lights in C-shapes around either headlamps cluster; and so on and so on as standard equipment.

2012 Chrysler 300C AWD dash

The wood in the 2012 Chrysler 300C AWD is really that, real wood. (Click to enlarge).

Then add on the SafetyTec package, a $2,420 assemblage of front and rear park assist, adaptive headlights with automatic leveling, forward collision warning and much more. Again, see the window sticker. If almost a two and a half grand seems like a lot, that’s just another six percent and it is safety, after all.

On the other hand, audiophiles will revel in the 19 Premium Speakers package, which has—naturally enough—eighteen speakers and a subwoofer, a 900-watt amplifier. Alas, it deletes the power rear sunshade. Choices, choices. It’s $1,995. Enjoy your tunes. It’s better than the audio system in your house.

The third option package is simply a panoramic sunroof, the latest indulgence that dealers will no doubt put on the lot like neighbors put candy corn in Halloween trick-or-treat bags. Except that the dealer will ask $1,495 for the treat. If it is a treat. The tinting isn’t very dark and on any sunny day the screen will stay closed.

2012 Chrysler 300C AWD engine

Yes, there is a Hemi under the hood of the 2012 Chrysler 300C AWD but it’s hidden by a huge plastic cover. (Click to enlarge),

And, yes, of course, it has a Hemi. The 5.7-liter V-8 is at once archaic, with its pushrod valvetrain, and also advanced, with its “variable displacement” system that shuts off one bank of cylinders leaving the engine operating as a four when at light throttle on highway cruise. It’s a fuel saving thing.

Yet it’s hard to argue with the output of the 5.7-liter Hemi, 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. With that, who needs multiple overhead cams? The Chrysler 300C with all-wheel drive is no lightweight, but the Hemi provides enthusiastic acceleration and a neat rumble that only a V-8 can make. Because the 300C is a luxury car, it’s subdued, but still there whether accelerating or on the overrun. At a constant speed on the highway, however,  it’s the proverbial dormouse who, contrary to Grace Slick, says nothing at all.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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