Review of the Chrysler 300

Lineup addition brings sport to full-sized American car

There is the 120.2-inch wheelbase, which puts it at the long end of its category, and shares it with the more aggressive-looking Dodge Charger. The 300 is stylish, so much so that it can be briefly mistaken for a Bentley.

The S is one of three new trim levels for the 300 in 2012 with the others being the Luxury and high-powered (470 horsepower, to be exact) SRT8. Overall there are seven trims with prices ranging from $27,670 to $47,670. The 300S that we drove slots just short of the midway point in the lineup and has a beginning price of $33,170. Among the features that start at the S level are a sport suspension, 20-inch tires, heated front seats, remote engine start, fog lights, upgraded sound system (Beats By Dr. Dre for you audiophiles), voice recognition and wireless cell-phone link.

There are three engines available in the 300, highlighted by the 6.4-liter V8 (there is also a 363-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8).

The base 3.6-liter V6 engine that we had under the hood is still a nice performer with 292 horsepower. Coupled with the new 8-speed automatic transmission, the EPA mileage rating is a splendid 31 mpg.

Driving a 300 results in an overall exemplary experience, starting with the rear-wheel drive.

There is a feeling of security because of the size of the car, the road manners are on the pleasant side (the sport suspension on the S tightening maneuverability up a bit), the cabin is blocked by much exterior or engine noise and there are also steering wheel paddle shifters. For those in northern climates — hey, that’s us — there are also all-wheel drive editions available.

The interior offers plenty of room all around. The driver is empowered with steering wheel audio controls and an 8.4-inch screen that absorbs audio and climate controls, as well as the optional navigation unit that was on our test vehicle. The trunk is a well-proportioned 16.3 cubic feet and the back seats folds in a 60/40 split manner.

Chrysler gave freshened design cues to the 300 last year and brought along new trims for 2012. This is a full-sized sedan that keeps getting better.

David Mikesell is a free-lance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis. Read this review and others like it at DaytonDailyNews.com/Wheels.

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