The Chrysler 300 is great, and the SRT version is even better. Although the 300 is essentially a Dodge Charger with different sheetmetal, the more elegant exterior design makes it appealing to a larger audience than the ostentatious Charger. Adding a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and subtle design changes makes the car even more appealing to me. There's still not enough refinement in the 300 package to seriously challenge the German juggernauts (despite the platform descending from the E-class during the DaimlerChrysler era), but you can get a very fast, very spacious car for $50k.
I wouldn't rush out and buy a 2013 300 SRT8, though. Jeep just introduced the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT and it benefits from an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 300 will certainly get the eight-speed within a few months, so a wise shopper would hold off until that happens. The eight-speed gearbox won't magically make the SRT8 a fuel sipper, but every mpg makes a difference when you're feeding 6.4 liters of fury.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The Hemi in all its forms is a deliciously vocal and addictively powerful engine that transforms every vehicle into which it's fitted into a better, more entertaining version of itself. The 300 SRT8 is no different. Then again, it also helps that the 300 is so good to begin with. To their credit, the folks at SRT have beefed up the steering, brakes, and chassis rather than just dropping in a big engine and calling it a day. What's most likable about the 300 SRT8 is that it's very Mercedes AMG-like-not-un-ironically since it's distantly based on a Mercedes-Benz-in its ability to be both a smoky-burnout hooligan and an effortless and rewarding grand tourer.
For 2013, the adaptive damping system has been made more customizable. I played with it a bit and felt a slight difference among the three available modes but was hoping for a bit more compliance from the comfort setting. The fact that the system is accessible only in Uconnect is disappointing, too. I'd much rather see a switch mounted on the dash where it could be easily accessed and put to use more often.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
Aside from the fairly tacky carbon-fiber trim marring the interior, I'm pretty much in love with this car, as I knew I'd be from previous experience in SRT-modified Mopar sedans. I'm pretty angry with Mother Nture and the press-car gods, however, because I got only one night behind the wheel of the 300 SRT8, and it was raining hard and/or foggy the entire time I had the keys. You think it's easy to spin the tires on dry pavement...
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I tweeted that the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is my guiltiest pleasure. SRT picked up on that and responded with, "Enjoy guilt-free cruising with Fuel Saving Technology." Yeah, that's definitely not what I meant. Maybe this would've been better: "If I could stop loving the Chrysler 300 SRT8, I would." Its slick looks and brutish powertrain are seductive, but it lacks the polish of the German sedans it's priced to compete with. The 300 is my favorite American four-door and the SRT8 is the best version of it, but it needs an interior that leans more toward luxurious rather than sporty.
Christopher Nelson, Road Test Editor