I’d thought about buying one of these for many years when they came out back in the mid 2000’s because they definitely made an impression on me. It seemed you either loved them or hated them, over the years Chrysler have tamed the gangster / pimp look down a fair bit to something that is still quite unique without requiring you to wear a purple suit and carry a white cane to complete the look.
Coming from a long line of Holden cars (V8’s and V6’s) that had always been good to me I knew the Chrysler was going to be what it was….American. Well technically Canadian made not American, but I understood that meant this car was not going to be assembled with the pride and passion of say the Ferrari or AMG assembly lines, but more on that later.
This is the top of the line SRT that comes with every feature you could poke a stick at. I opted not to get a sunroof as I am a tall guy and you do lose some roof space with a sunroof, other than that it has everything the factory offers. I’ve had the car for a several months now and to describe its ownership is like having a friend that is noisy and sometimes annoying but is a lot of fun at the same time. I cannot believe how loud this car is on start-up, I’ve owned many V8’s with aftermarket exhausts but this is still louder. However it has some flaps at the rear of the exhaust system that close up and make the car more civil after running for 20 seconds or so. But that start up sound is epic and hats off to Chrysler for being brave enough to release a car that loud!
It is the drivetrain that will make anyone forgive this car for any shortcomings it might have, the 350KW 6.4L HEMI even with the factory exhaust has to be one of the best sounding factory V8’s ever made. Being an old school high compression big cube motor it makes torque everywhere and paired with the ZF 8 speed auto driving is effortless. Chrysler have done a great job matching the gear changes to the engine characteristics and let’s be honest, have you ever read a bad word said about the ZF 8 speed auto?
Safety wise and luxury wise this car is loaded, there is nothing left to add which is great when you compare to some other cars in this $80K price bracket that can end up closer to $100K by the time you option it up. The instrument cluster is really nice, colourful and sharp with many screens to scroll through showing lots of information about the car. The Uconnect media unit is pretty good too, not cutting edge by any means but functional, the nav works well and no issues with Bluetooth. The premium audio system this comes with isn’t mind (or ear) blowing, but I’ve always had aftermarket audio systems installed which are generally better sounding.
Inside some parts look a little dated but overall the materials are of decent quality, the seats are super comfortable and certainly a lot nicer than what I’ve had in previous cars. All the features of the car work well and without glitches so no complaints there (although the auto braking scared me pretty good one day). There is lots of sound deadening materials all around so on the road the car is pretty isolated from road noise even with the big wheels.
There is some negatives and I knew there would be when I ordered it so I can live with them for now. The main issue is the body assembly, some of the panel gaps are terrible and I will hound the dealer to get these sorted, I would expect this on a $20K Chinese car not something costing $80K. I don’t understand how someone at the assembly plant didn’t look and say to themselves ‘that really isn’t good enough’. But that is the very problem that will never be solved, this car comes down the same line as other $20K Chrysler cars so I doubt anyone in Canada cares. Second issue is the paint, I ordered ivory-white pearl, yes it looks stunning in the sun when clean but it is a nightmare to keep clean (just be warned anyone considering this colour). My big gripe with the paint is the match between the plastics and the metal is sub par and that is driving me crazy. I know pearl paints are not easy to make look the same between metal and plastics because of the different surfaces and prep used but this actually looks like they weren’t painted from the same batch of paint (is this again that nobody in Canada cares issue)? Unfortunately there is probably little I can do about this apart from regret not ordering the car in black instead.
I only drive around the suburbs so no freeway driving or peak hour city jams to deal with but I have been surprised that it will average around 14.2L/100 just driving around in 50 to 80KM/H zones. I actually expected far worse considering the cars weight and engine size, the best I’ve seen is 13.3L/100 but this was done in Eco mode which means it always starts off in 2nd gear and will kick the engine in to 4cyl mode very early when up to speed. Which sounds good on paper except it can drone badly (mind you the manual does say that is the tradeoff with eco mode). I have no idea what it would do on the freeway as I’ve never taken it on one for any long distance but I would expect single digits easily. So I just leave it in regular non Eco mode and take a bit more of a hit at the pump rather than listen to the drone of that epic V8 running as a 4 cylinder. There is other driving modes that can be selected from the Uconnect and these really change the characteristics of the car. The ‘craziest’ setting which is track mode is thankfully not the default, traction control is off, throttle response is very touchy but if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you are brain dead. Honestly in this mode anything more than half throttle and the thing just lights the tyres up for as long as you keep your foot in it, this mode was calibrated by car enthusiasts, not do gooders. And that 6.4L V8 sounding as mean as it does in this mode it is a vicious circle of tyre destroying sensations that can only be halted by your wife in the passenger seat.
So in conclusion it is a real shame Chrysler can’t get their production quality niggles sorted out on that line after all these years because everything else about the car is great. For me the choice was either another SS Commodore or try something different (which wasn’t some FWD/4WD turbo 4 cyl Euro mid size car even though they are probably faster than my 300), people need to understand that a person doesn’t cross shop between a SS Commodore/Falcon/300 SRT and an AMG A45. So when I feel a little down about my mismatched pearl paint or crappy door gaps I just set the car to ‘track’ mode and all is forgiven knowing cars like this will probably not exist as a purchase option in 3 years time, so enjoy it while it lasts.