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An attention-grabbing exterior, smooth, quiet ride, and a choice of powerful engines keep Chrysler's flagship 300 lineup near the top of the family sedan market for 2009.The Bad
An aging design, less-than-stellar cabin materials, visibility issues, and a base model that's a 300 in looks only keep the 2009 Chrysler 300 from owning its market segment.
The CarGurus View
Taking a pass on the base 2009 Chrysler 300 LX will reward owners with a well-regarded, powerful, and stylish automobile that will be the envy of the neighborhood. For the most part, the ’09 Chrysler 300 continues to justify the almost legendary status the model has garnered.
At a Glance
Chrysler has a proven winner with the well-designed and almost flawlessly executed 2009 Chrysler 300. Introduced in 2005 and a product of the short-lived Daimler partnership, the Chrysler 300 reflects the styling attributes of the earlier Mercedes E-Class. Nearly everything about this automobile is top-shelf, from styling to power to its numerous comfort and convenience features.
After a significant re-design in 2008, the ’09 Chrysler 300 gets a more powerful 5.7-liter V8 Hemi and adds the multi-displacement system (MDS), which shuts down four of the engine's eight cylinders at cruising speeds for better fuel economy. Chrysler has also tweaked the 300’s drive train and suspension for improved handling and a smoother highway ride.
The 2009 Chrysler 300 is offered in six trim levels: the base LX, midlevel Touring and Limited, higher-end 300C and 300C Hemi, and the almost over-the-top 300C SRT8. Designed to run with the likes of the Pontiac G8, Ford Taurus Limited, Toyota Avalon, and Cadillac CTS, among others, the 300 holds its own against this competition with impressive styling, loads of standard features and options, and in the higher-end trims, awesome power, futuristic technology, luxurious options, and plenty of safety features.
Both reviewers and owners agree the ’09 Chrysler 300 line is aging well, but wonder how long this venerable sedan can continue to aim at an increasingly younger crowd without a major re-styling.
The Chrysler 300 offers a choice of four engines and two transmissions for 2009.
The base 300 LX, available only in rear-wheel drive, features a 2.7-liter DOHC V6 grunting out an uninspiring 178 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, along with an EPA-estimated 18/26 mpg with the standard four-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers and owners view the 2.7-liter V6 as “tepid” at best.
The 300 Touring and Limited trims, both offered in either rear- or all-wheel drive configurations, feature a standard 3.5-liter, 24-valve HO V6 with the four-speed automatic that puts out a fairly respectable – and well regarded – 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque and delivers an EPA-estimated 17/24 with rear-wheel drive and 15/22 with all-wheel drive.
The rear-wheel-drive-only 300C Hemi and all-wheel-drive-only 300C each pack the 340-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that, coupled with the standard five-speed AutoStick automatic transmission, pounds out 390 lb-ft of torque. Variable-valve timing in 2009 gives this powerplant an extra 19 hp and will take drivers from 0 – 60 in 6.3 seconds. With its Multiple Displacement System (MDS), mileage for the 5.7-liter Hemi is EPA-estimated at 16/23 for the 300C Hemi and 15/22 for the 300C. One professional reviewer, however, finds those numbers more than a little optimistic.
For 2009, the 300C SRT8 is delivered only in the rear-wheel-drive configuration and is powered by a 6.1-liter SRT Hemi V8 and five-speed AutoStick automatic transmission. Together they blast out 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. This huge Hemi does 0-100-0 in less than 17 seconds but got an EPA-estimated 13/18 in 2008. Don’t look for any improvement in economy for ’09.
A few professional reviewers mention a noticeable lag when either transmission is downshifting, with one claiming the AutoStick five-speed's manual-style shift gate helps alleviate the problem.
Ride & Handling
The 2009 Chrysler 300 is a heavy automobile, weighing in at well over 3,500 pounds, yet its braking characteristics are described as better than average by nearly all reviewers, though one finds occasional softness with hard braking.
Since it's a major player in re-directing attention in the U.S. auto market back to rear-wheel-drive automobiles, the 300 series is lauded for its handling and ride capabilities. As well, each of the ’09 Chrysler 300 all-wheel-drive trims features front-axle disconnect, giving drivers the benefits of rear-wheel drive in good conditions. The axle re-engages for all-wheel drive when the system senses wheel slippage, colder temperatures, or a busy windshield wiper.
The Chrysler 300 Limited and 300C trims offer a more comfortable suspension for ’09 that will please most owners who have complained in past years about a stiff ride. The ’09 300 LX and Touring trims feature 18-inch wheels with front and rear independent suspension. The Limited, 300C, and 300C Hemi trims offer the improved comfort-tuned touring suspension and 18-inch wheels for ’09, while the 300C Heritage and 300C SRT8 each feature performance-tuned suspension and steering and 20-inch wheels.
Reviewers find the ’09 300 LX, Touring, and Limited trims to ride more smoothly, tightly, and softly than previous models with negligible corner roll. Several reviewers mention, however, a distracting “jiggle” on bumpier roads. The sportier trims, the 300C, 300C Hemi, and SRT8, are obviously stiffer and not so stately, yet offer a better grip on the road. In addition, the SRT8 comes equipped with standard Brembo performance brakes, special stability control calibration, and an integrated rear spoiler.
Altogether, reviewers find the 2009 Chrysler 300 comfortable and plush at cruising speeds, but not as sprightly as most European sedans around town. Many professional reviewers find the ’09 Pontiac G8 GT as good as or better in all respects than the 300 series.
Cabin & Comfort
The 2009 Chrysler 300 is noted by both reviewers and owners as having more-than-adequate head- and legroom, with the Walter P. Chrysler Executive Series adding 5 inches of length for even more space to stretch out. Reviewers also find the 300s reasonably quiet, though the V6 engines do roar noticeably on hard acceleration. The subdued but powerful growl of the V8 Hemi is particularly appealing to all professional reviewers.
The roominess in the ’09 300 series is complemented by scads of standard comfort and convenience features. The LX trim offers bucket seats, air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and a CD/MP3 player with four speakers. The Touring offers, in addition, auto headlights, foglights, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather trim, and SIRIUS satellite radio. The 2009 Limited trim adds the new comfort-tuned suspension, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, a six-disc CD/MP3 player with six speakers, and power-adjustable pedals. The 300C Hemi, 300C, and 300C SRT8 tack on power-folding heated mirrors, a power-adjustable steering wheel, upgraded leather, remote start, a tortoiseshell interior, and universal garage door opener, with the SRT8 featuring suede upholstery that appealed to one professional reviewer who mentioned sliding around the flat-leather seats on the lower-end trims during cornering.
Options for the 300 LX include ABS, stability and traction control, and body-color moldings. For the higher-end Chrysler 300 trims, options include upgraded audio systems, UConnect hands-free communications with Bluetooth technology, a power sunroof, and rear-seat SIRIUS TV.
Reviewers and owners have noticed an unnerving lack of rear and side visibility due to the 2009 Chrysler 300’s wide roof pillars and smallish windows.
The 2009 Chrysler 300 series offers numerous safety features in all trims except the LX, which is delivered with only multistage front airbags, brake-park interlock, inside emergency trunk-lid release, rear-door child protection locks, and four-wheel disc brakes.
Standard safety features on all other 300 trims, and optional for the LX, include four-wheel disc ABS, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), and all-speed traction control. An available safety feature for the ’09 300 series except the LX, includes the Protection Group, with front side-impact airbags, supplemental side curtain airbags, self-sealing all-season tires, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and universal customer interface through the UConnect hands-free communications system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the ’09 Chrysler 300 trims equipped with side-impact and supplemental side-curtain airbags five stars in front and side impact tests. Trims that did not include side and supplemental side curtain airbags did not, however, fare as well in testing.
What Owners Think
Though by and large impressed with the 2009 Chrysler 300, owners are disappointed with an annoying transmission drag when downshifting with both the four- and five-speed automatics. Most owners mention that the Chrysler 300 automatics are, in general, below most of the competition. A few owners also are disappointed that the 3.5-liter V6 does not come with a five-speed automatic.
Complaints about small side and rear windows, combined with wide roof pillars, are almost universal with owners, who note that rear and side visibility is often dangerously compromised. At least two owners feel the touted, comfort-tuned suspension in the higher-end trims could be further improved on the 300 LX and Touring trims trims.
Nearly all owners find the 2009 Chrysler 300 lineup stylish, roomy, powerful, and well constructed, although many are disappointed with what they consider inferior cabin materials. The Hemi-equipped 300C trims are particularly well thought of by owners, but the 3.5-liter V6 also came in for additional praise as possessing plenty of power with decent fuel economy. Many owners are appreciative of the rear-wheel drive trims, most notably the 300C trims, which were lauded for their handling and acceleration characteristics.
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Looking for a Used 300 in your area?
CarGurus has 10,955 nationwide 300 listings starting at $1,795.
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