Third Look: The 2010 Chrysler 300C SRT8 – What $50K Really Buys

By Seyth Miersma

April 12, 2010

We have previously, and will likely continue to use various overwhelmingly positive descriptors to paint a proper picture of Chrysler’s 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 engine—brutal, tuneful, torquey, furious, tire-melting, and train-like are all applicable here. Such is the motor that powers the 2010 300C SRT8, and duly, we love the car more than a little bit.

You would too, we’d guess, if you were able to stave off the more practical voices of your car guy intellect for just a moment; then use that moment to turn off the 300’s traction control and mash the throttle. Even better, the brakes are large enough to haul you down quickly from silly speeds, and the car feels surprisingly agile (if very isolated) while cornering. Hair-raising and massively fun stuff.

Sadly, cars are not built, or driven, or sold in a vacuum. The SRT8 version of the 300C is, without a doubt, a massively charming car, but it’s also a very expensive car considering the rather low-rent, badly resolved package that makes up the vehicle that surrounds that amazing engine. Our Deep Water Blue Pearl test car came with a total price of $49,125. Add destination ($750) and a gas guzzler tax ($1700) to the “base” price, and you’ll find that even a completely stripped SRT8 will run $47,315.

That number is about $10,000 higher than what you’ll spend to pick up Ford’s brand new Taurus SHO, a car that is wickedly fast, has AWD grip, fine handling, and an interior that is worlds better looking and of higher quality than the buff 300C. Sure, the SRT8 has about 60 more horses, and lot more aural flavor than the SHO, but it’s the lesser overall car by a long distance.

What’s more, if you don’t really need the backseat room of a full-sized sedan (and the 300C’s rear accommodations feel more pinched than they should for a car this large), then you’re probably only even sniffing the SRT8 badge because of the performance on offer. In that case, smaller options like the BMW 335i (or 335d for the torque lovers), Cadillac CTS, or Acura TL offer nearly equal performance and a hell of a lot more luxury. (Those three cars probably offer more performance, actually, if you consider how quick they are versus the Chrysler on a challenging road.)

The price of the 300C SRT8 buys a large engine output number in a characterful but deeply flawed sedan. That’s not enough for us, not when so many compelling choices are available for similar or lesser dough. This is a fun car to drive for a week, and might make for a super secondhand buy if Chrysler residuals hold as standard even for this small volume model. But unless you simply must have that American glam-muscle look to wrap you hulking V-8, we’d suggest spending your sport sedan money somewhere else.