Without a doubt, Chrysler is the top turnaround story of the century.

What makes that story so spectacular is the top caliber “Imported from Detroit” products that keep rolling off the assembly line.

This week I had the chance to test-drive the 2012 Chrysler 300S full-size sedan.

The 300 is absolutely amazing — on par, if not better — than any of its competitors in the segment (and that includes the premium luxury sedans).

For anyone in the market for a full-size sedan, you are missing the boat if you don’t add the 300 to the test-drive list.

Available in rear- and all-wheel drive configurations, Chrysler has raised the bar for what a full-size sedan should be.

And there are so many choices.

In addition to the drive train options, buyers also have the option of a very spirited, yet fuel-efficient V-6 engine, or the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.

But wait, there’s more.

When it comes to trim levels, the 300 has something for everyone. Trim level choices include the base 300, 300 Limited, 300S (V6), 300C, 300S (V8), 300C Luxury Series and 300 SRT 8.

With a base price starting below $28,000, the 300 is not only an outstanding vehicle in terms of performance, handling and comfort, it’s also an outstanding value.

This week’s 300S test vehicle was equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine that delivers 292 horsepower and 260 lbs.-ft. torque.

Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy of 19 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for rear-wheel drive models using regular unleaded fuel (18 mpg/27 mpg respectively for all-wheel drive models).

Rear-wheel drive buyers also have their choice of a five-speed automatic.

For those wanting more power (although you really don’t need it), the HEMI V-8 cranks out 363 horses and 394 lbs.-ft. torque).

First of all, the five-passenger 300 is one of the most comfortable sedans you will ever drive. You will be impressed with the amount of head, leg and shoulder room for both front and rear seat passengers.

I was also impressed with the level of equipment in the 300S test vehicle. It is a very premium vehicle.

The test vehicle was equipped with the Beats by Dr. Dre 522-watt, 10-speaker audio system, which is a treat for audiophiles.

It also features 20-inch polished-faced aluminum wheels with black painted pockets, 12-way power driver and passenger front seats and UConnect Touch with 8.4-inch touchscreen display.

It was also equipped with the optional Nappa leather sport seats with memory, heated rear seats, heated leather steering wheel, power sunshade, driver’s side auto-dimming mirror that tilts down when the vehicle is in reverse, as well as heated and cooled cupholders.

With the temperatures hitting triple digits this week, I loved putting my Big Slam Coca-Cola in the cupholder and pushing the chill button.

The 300 is also loaded with standard safety features. Named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, standard features include electronic stability control, full-length side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side thorax airbags, driver’s knee bag, front-row reactive head restraints, hill-start assist, rain brake support and ready alert braking, to name a few.

At the end of my weeklong evaluation, I can wrap up my view of the 300 in one word: WOW!

It’s that good.

 

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

 

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2012 Chrysler 300

5-seat full-size sedan  

Rear-, or all-wheel drive

Trim packages:

300, 300 Limited, 300S (V6), 300C, 300S (V8), 300C Luxury Series, SRT 8

PRICE RANGE:

$28,000-$49,000

ENGINE:

3.6L V6 (292 hp/260 torque)

5.7L V8 (363 hp/394 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

5-speed automatic

8-speed automatic

EPA: 18/19/18 mpg city, 27/31/27 mpg highway (V6 RWD 5AT/V6 RWD 8AT/V6 AWD 8AT)

16/15 mpg city/25/23 mpg highway (V8 RWD/V8 AWD)

FUEL: Regular unleaded (mid-grade unleaded recommended with V8)

STABILITY CONTROL:

Electronic stability control with traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 198.6 inches

WHEELBASE: 120.2 inches

WIDTH: 75 inches

HEIGHT: 59.2 inches

WEIGHT: 3999-4515 lbs.

TRACK: 63.4/63.8

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 19.1 gallons

TIRES: 17-, 18-, 19- or 20-in.