The makeover Chrysler performed on its large sedan for the 2011 model year was extremely successful. The 300 still feels like a big, broad-shouldered hunk of American muscle, but it exudes a surprising amount of European flair, thanks to LED headlamps, a stellar interior, and an available panoramic sunroof. Lest you think the company is content to rest on its laurels for 2012, Chrysler has made a surprising number of revisions. Two new trim levels -- the 300S and the 300C Luxury Series -- join the fold, allowing buyers to add a sporty look and sumptuous cabin materials, respectively. Cars equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 are now fitted with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and are once again available with all-wheel drive. The biggest news for 2012 is the 300's biggest engine. The performance-tuned SRT8 model rejoins the 300 lineup after a yearlong hiatus, and it's better than ever. A 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 provides a muscular 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and adaptive dampers pull double duty, curbing body roll on the track and soaking up bumps on the road. In fact, even the lesser 300 models offer a remarkably pleasant drive. With the advent of the eight-speed automatic on six-cylinder models, there's arguably less need than ever to opt for the 5.7-liter Hemi. The 3.6-liter V-6 offers respectable power without resorting to typical eight-cylinder gluttony, and the smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission both aids acceleration and bolsters fuel economy.
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