Inside Line Blog Tech Review - 2009 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 22, 2009.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Inside Line Technology Review: 2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8

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    Posted by: Doug Newcomb May 20, 2009, 3:00 PM

    Have you ever driven a dinosaur? That's how I felt behind the wheel of the 2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8.

    Not only is the automaker threatened with extinction, but it's a foregone conclusion that gas-guzzling, high-performance engines like the 425-horsepower HEMI in the 300C SRT8 are going the way of the T-Rex. Or at least they'll cease to exist in two-ton sedans.

    But if our test car (sticker price $48,520) is already a rolling relic, it's one decked with tech that Chrysler's more cash-stable competitors could benefit from copying.

    Rear Seat Entertainment:

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    Chrysler's Video Entertainment System (VES), for example, is one of the best in the industry. Not only is Chrysler the only automaker that offers Sirius Backseat TV (albeit with only three channels, like most kids care), but the VES is the most flexible and feature-filled OEM rear seat entertainment option bar none. And as a $1,400 option -- although it requires tacking on the navigation and premium-audio options -- it's also not a bad deal. Slap the wireless headphone on a pair of backseat passengers and hand them the remote control and they have independent access to any audio source on board: CD, DVD, hard drive, iPod, aux-in and AM, FM or Sirius satellite radio. Or they can watch either satellite TV or a DVD on the 7-inch LCD screen that hinges up out of the back of the center console, or plug their own portable media player or videogame console into the RCA aux-ins near the screen. Most company's minivans don't offer this much to keep the brats in the back quiet. The system also has a unique video surround mode that's part of the optional Kicker sound system and gives the video soundtrack a plausible spatial quality, although it only engages when listening to a DVD over the car's speakers and doesn't work with the headphones or satellite TV.

    iPod Integration:

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    After initially offering a couple of lame solutions, including the dreaded FM modulator, Chrysler now has full iPod-integration. An iPod plugs into a proprietary cable in the glove box and is controlled through the head unit's 6.5-inch touch screen. All the usual categories are available at your fingertips -- albums, artists, songs, playlists, genres -- as well as some that are absent from other automakers' top-level iPod-integration menus: podcasts, audiobooks and composers. While the interface isn't the swiftest -- it took a while to scroll through the contents on my 120GB classic -- a feature allows keying in the first letter of an artist's name so that the interface shows all of the artists starting with that letter of the alphabet. You can also load up to 10GB of digital tunes onto the nav system hard drive via the USB port on the head unit.

    Navigation:

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    iPod integration is part of the $900 SRT Option Group II, which also includes the uconnect gps system -- and is a bargain compared to the price of other in-dash OEM nav systems. Mapping data resides on a 30GB hard drive instead of DVD discs for faster route calculations, and aspects of the system, such as address input, can be operated using the car's Voice Recognition feature, which works better than voice-activation systems in some cars that cost much more. It also offers emergency routing to the closest hospital, police and fire stations, and a Record Trail feature allows saving a route in an area without mapping data. A bonus is the system comes with one free year of Sirius Traffic.

    Bluetooth:

    Chrysler's uconnect Bluetooth hands-free phone system is also part of the $900 SRT Option Group II, making it an even sweeter deal. Like Chrysler's VES, uconnect is one of the best Bluetooth applications in the business. Pairing a phone is simple and the system has features like three-way and conference calling and direct connection to towing assistance that few (if any) other automakers offer. It also automatically downloads a compatible phone's address book and is tied in with Chrysler's Voice Recognition system to allow calling just by saying a contact's name. But it doesn't allow the user to view the contacts in the address book. So to find a name the system has to read the entire address book until it gets to the one you want, which is tedious. My other (consistent) gripe with Chrysler's Bluetooth system is that the uconnect and VR buttons are on the head unit instead of the steering wheel, which to me doesn't mean "hands-free."

    Audio:

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    I've been impressed with the Boston Acoustics audio systems in previous 300C models, not because they represent the pinnacle of great auto sound but offer great bang for the buck. The $685 Kicker High-Performance Audio option is cut from the same cloth, although it's a step down in sound quality and a step up in low-bass output. With my test tracks the bass from the 10-inch subwoofer in the trunk was boomy, midbass was muddy and the highs could be grating. The system also lacked dynamics and had an overall lackluster sound. The one standout quality was good soundstaging -- no doubt aided by three speakers way out in front of the driver, in the 300C's expansive dash -- although stereo imaging was unfocused. But the Kicker sub had no trouble handling the massive bass on rap tracks.

    Tech Extras:

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    The 300C SRT8 was outfitted with the kind of bells and whistles you'd expect to find on a top-of-the-line trim model, including convenience features like heated seats, remote start and a power steering column and pedals with memory. A Rear Park Assist System warns with beeps and LEDs above the rear window when you're about to bump the car's butt into something, although our test car didn't come with an optional backup camera. And the Electronic Vehicle Information Center display in the instrument cluster can be used to call up all manner of data and conveniently shows radio station or audio source info. Apropos to this high-horsepower model, the IP display also shows performance data such as 0-60 and quarter-mile times and instantaneous and peak G-force.

    It's unlikely that Chrysler will be making or even moving many more 300C SRT8s, and the car seems destined for future lists of Cool Cars That Were Killed. But that also means it could be a great time to buy this beast if you want one of the last of the latter-day muscle-car sedans. And the chance to own and drive a dinosaur with some of the best car tech available.

    IL Tech Ratings (10 is best): 2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8

    Rear Seat Entertainment: 9
    Pod Integration: 8
    Navigation: 7
    Bluetooth: 7
    Audio: 6
    Tech Extras: 8
    Overall Average Score: 7.5

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  2. Madness

    Madness Do not let Dr. Mario touch your genitals. He is no

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    Why are they reviewing a 5 year old car?
     

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