2014 Chrysler 300 SRT8

The basic formula Chrysler used to create the second-generation 300 SRT8 is simple: take the company's full-size 300C sedan, stuff the most powerful HEMI V8 the automaker has ever produced under the hood, and enjoy.

Of course, there are a host of other changes to the exterior, interior and suspension that make it worthy of wearing the SRT8 badge, but nothing is as central to the car's identity as its 6.4-liter HEMI V8. It produces 470 horsepower, 470 lb-ft of torque and rumbles like thunder. A five-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties.

Despite the somewhat antiquated transmission and the car's substantial size, the 300 SRT8 is capable of sprinting to 60 mph in the high-four second range. The quarter mile, meanwhile, takes less than 13 seconds, while top speed is limited to 175 mph. New for the latest model is a launch-control system that spins the engine to optimal launch rpms, then manages wheelspin once underway for the quickest acceleration possible. Fuel economy is rated at 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

Following the conservative theme of the last-generation 300 SRT8, the latest car boasts a mildly more aggressive look than the standard 300. The biggest changes come at the rear, where Chrysler added dual exhaust pipes poking out from a black diffuser. Seven-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels complete the look. Inside its spacious cabin, the 300 SRT8 features a flat-bottom steering wheel, sports seats and real carbon fiber trim throughout.

Braking is vastly improved thanks to 14.2-inch front and 13.8-inch rear slotted rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers. Wind-tunnel designed brake cooling ducts direct airflow to the vented rotors for improved brake cooling and fade performance.

Chrysler upgraded the 300 SRT8's suspension for the previous model year, adding an improved version of the active damping system that includes three different settings that either optimize on-road comfort or handling responses.

Uconnect Access
The 300 SRT8 comes standard with Chrysler's Uconnect Access infotainment system (for a complete description of Uconnect Access, check out Leftlane's Spotlight On: Uconnect in-depth article).

Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the sedan's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.

Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.

Standard and Optional Features
The 300 SRT8 comes standard with combination leather/suede upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a navigation system with real-time traffic info and voice command functionality, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, a six-speaker, 276-watt sound system with Sirius XM radio and iPod integration and more.

An optional Premium Leather Interior Package offers Poltrona Frau "Foligno" leather-wrapped upper door trim panels, instrument panel, cluster brow and center console side panels. Nappa leather covers the door bolster, armrest and center console armrest.

Also available is a 900-watt, 19-speaker premium SRT performance audio surround-sound system from Harman/Kardon, including seven integrated tweeters spread throughout the cabin.

300 SRT Core
A newly-available Core model caters to budget-minded performance fans by delivering all of the standard sedan's performance but deleting some content (or substituting less expensive bits) to achieve a lower price.

Inside, the Core features "Ballistic" cloth in place of the standard leather upholstery.

The adaptive suspension has also been deep-sixed in favor of a single-mode setup. Other changes include the deletion of the fog lights and the substitution of halogen headlights in place of the normal HID units.

300 SRT Satin Vapor Edition
The 300 SRT Satin Vapor Edition stands out from the regular 300 SRT thanks to 19-inch forged aluminum five-spoke alloy wheels, Satin Black mirrors, bespoke HEMI badges, a Satin Black roof and red brake calipers manufactured by Brembo. The car is available in Bright White, Billet Silver and Granite Crystal, and buyers can order a black body stripe at an extra cost.

Inside, the special-edition 300 SRT boasts black seats upholstered in Nappa leather with suede inserts and a combination of carbon and piano black trim on the instrument cluster, the door panels and the center console.

Occupant Safety
Chrysler brand's signature SafetyTec Group is available on the all-new Chrysler 300 SRT8 and packages together many newly available features, including adaptive-forward lighting (AFL), high-intensity discharge (HID) projector high and low-beams with automatic headlamp leveling, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with adaptive cruise control (ACC), Blind-spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection, ParkSense front and rear park assist system, LED-illuminated rear fog lamps, exterior mirrors with supplemental turn signals and approach lamp.

In addition, standard front-row reactive head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain air bags, driver's knee bag and standard front seat-mounted side-thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection in case things go south after overenthusiastic drivers turn off the stability control.

Key Competitors
Rivals to the 300C SRT8 include the Ford Taurus SHO and the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec as well as more expensive luxury machines like the BMW 550i and Mercedes-Benz E550.