Is the 2013 Chrysler 300 a Real Luxury Car?

Chrysler 300 copy

It seems the Chrysler brand has been in an awkward marketing position for decades. The brand, which share's its name with its corporate owner, has tried to present itself as a stylish, almost premium brand ever since Celine Dion sang in the automaker's Super Bowl ad.

Segmenting Chrysler in this way versus Dodge's more aggressive looks makes sense but the approach hasn't worked — for Chrysler or Ford's shutterd Mercury division — since Dion belted out that Super Bowl commercial.

Things started to slowly change once Fiat bought Chrysler in 2009. The brand is becoming a real luxury marque in a similar vein to Buick's recent renaissance. While Buick has a slate of new models to help change perceptions, Chrysler has less to work with in its lineup.

The Chrysler 300 has slowly changed with the brand, and the 2013 model is arguably the brand's first true luxury nameplate.

2005 Chrysler 300

When the Chrysler 300 and 300C came to the market in 2004, replacing the Chrysler Concorde and 300M, the models fit the brand's traditional marketing approach: luxury-like styling with a mass-market interior, pricing and equipment. Basically, style with less substance. The 2005 Chrysler 300 (above) had a starting price of $23,405 and was powered by a 190-horsepower V-6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission; it came with 17-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, cloth seats and a four-speaker stereo system. Despite the crude standard features list, people bought the Chrysler 300 in droves for its poor-man's Bentley styling and for the affordable V-8 option.


Model: Base MSRP, Not Including Destination (adjusted for inflation: 2012)  
  • 2004 Chrysler Concorde: $23,480 ($28,477)  
  • 2005 Chrysler 300: $23,405 ($27,456) 
  • 2006 Chrysler 300: $23,775 ($27,019) 
  • 2007 Chrysler 300: $24,445 ($27,011) 
  • 2008 Chrysler 300: $25,150 ($26,762) 
  • 2009 Chrysler 300: $26,665 (28,475) 
  • 2010 Chrysler 300: $27,260 ($28,641) 
  • 2011 Chrysler 300: $27,170 ($27,673) 
  • 2012 Chrysler 300: $27,670 ($27,670) 
  • 2013 Chrysler 300: $29,845 ($29,845)

Fast forward eight model years and for a difference of $2,389 (adjusted for inflation) the base 2013 Chrysler 300 now comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.4-inch touch-screen multimedia system and a powerful, fuel-efficient V-6. At $29,845 (not including the $995 destination charge), the 2013 Chrysler 300 comes with more standard luxury features than either the 2013 Hyundai Genesis or the 2013 Buick LaCrosse. The styling was toned down a little too much in 2011, but it can still be equipped with a Bentley-like grille for a little extra money.

On a side note: Under Chrysler's former owners, the redesigned 300 was to be equipped with less standard equipment; there was going to be no touch-screen radio in the base model, for instance. Now there's less material difference between a base 300 and the 300C. Where the 300C once stood for a Hemi V-8 and leather, under the new marketing approach it now stands for a bit more chrome, a navigation system and cooled front seats. The 2013 Chrysler 300C comes standard with the same V-6 found in the 300.

How has this strategy worked for Chrysler? So far, so good. Even before the new 2013 Chrysler 300 hits dealerships in large numbers, the redesigned 2011 and 2012 models already have moved the needle on the nameplate's buying demographics and its average transaction prices. A first-generation 2009 Chrysler 300 was selling at $32,900 with an average owner age of 57; a 2012 Chrysler 300 is transactioning at $36,500, and the model now has an average buyer age of 54.

In addition, the model's sales are up significantly in 2012. The carmaker has sold nearly 50,000 300s (or 158% more year-over-year) since the beginning of 2012 and at a higher transaction price. Since its launch in 2011, the Chrysler 300 has managed to double its market share and volume. The new 2012-13 Chrysler 300S has an even younger average owner age of 47, according to Chrysler spokesman Jiyan K. Cadiz. The average age of a 300 buyer is less than that of the overall Chrysler brand (55 years old) and less than brands like Buick (59) and Lincoln (60) with which the model competes, according to R.L. Polk & Co.

The recent 2013 changes, which made the Chrysler 300S $605 less expensive, are likely to further reduce its average buying age. Right now, it's hard to tell whether the model's mix of price cuts for the 300's more expensive trims and the price increase for the base model will increase transaction prices for the nameplate.

Chrysler

Needless the say, the Chrysler 300 lineup is now more exclusive than it has been a past; it's skewed toward premium- and luxury-car buyers.

It'll be interesting to see if the Chrysler brand takes the same approach with its redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan, which comes out later next year. The carmaker is also getting a small, Dodge Dart-based compact sedan and a midsize crossover next year, too. These may be the new models the company needs to make a dramatic shift like Buick. But will buyers consider it luxury?

Related
2013 Chrysler 300: What's Changed 
More Chrysler 300 News 
2012 Chrysler 300S Video

Comments 

tjt

Chysler was orignally upscale before the Germans took. Lebaron Convertables, and Imperials. That was along time ago when I was a child. America needs a comeback.

qitcryn

after a 96 T&C and Sebring. I will NEVER get another Chrysler. Don't care who owns them.

J

There is no inflation for 2012 to 2013? Kind of sad.

Chris

Had one recently as a rental and I loved it. Very smooth, quiet and the new 8 speed transmission was really impressive. Always seemed to be in the 'sweet spot' in terms of revs vs output. Averaged 27 mpg on country roads. The ipod interface was also really simple and easy to use. The 300 is at the top of my wish list now.

Chris K

Problem is, are they reliable? I hope so, because between Chrysler and Dodge there are some nice models available, but it's very tough to judge reliability until a model is a few years old.

Chrysler Co is a chicken-and-egg problem for me right now. On paper there are a couple models I'd like. BUt I don't want to be stuck with a dead transmission on a five-year-old car.

Joe Ruiz

Bought a base 300 At Mac Haik in Houston 2007, loved it! Bought a 2009 Chrysler touring van 2009 at Mac hails, didn't love it.
Tried to buy a 2012 300s from haiks,
They started at 40000 (price list ) and wanted to
Go up!
They graciously offered me a base 300 for only
38000!
Dodge dealership in Humble tx took a week and a half to find the car I wanted @ 30000.
Went by spring Chrysler, in less than an hour and a half they located a 300 with black leather interior, after Four months of searching these guys got Zme EXACTLY what I wanted for
27000. My 2013 is head and shoulders above my 2007. Thx, Spring Chrysler!

Outstanding design defines the 2013 Chrysler 300. This 4 door, 5 passenger sedan is waiting for you to take home! It features an automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, and a refined 6 cylinder engine. Chrysler infused the interior with top shelf amenities, such as: front and rear reading lights, a built-in garage door transmitter, a power seat, fully automatic headlights, power door mirrors and heated door mirrors, power windows, and a split folding rear seat

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tom

Own a 2012 with 8,000 miles in 10 months. This car is exactly what it is advertised. It will not disappoint any buyer. Spacious and luxurious and super quiet. Nice balance of feel/handling with luxury ride. No quality issues yet.
If you are considering buying this car, there should be zero hesitation.

Sam

I have a 2013 300S with the red leather interior, sunroof, nav, and tech package. The car is a full-size luxury car with surprisingly good handling. Don't bother with the cost of the hemi V-8. The V-6 has 300 horsepower (plenty of power) and with the 8-speed tranny I get 31 mpg on the highway. I've go the rear wheel drive version. You can't beat that for full-size luxury. The Beats by Dre sound system is awesome and it has THE best and biggest touch screen in the industry, hands down. I don't regret this purchase for a second.

Warren Statman

I traded in an XJ8 for a 2012 300c rwd Hemi. It was in the shop and my rental w/the 8SPD v6 combo really impressed me. After 32k miles I can tell u I won't buy another one. It is a great riding, quiet comfortable big sedan w every feature I could hope for. But the build quality is atrocious. It has been at the dealer 5x already for squeaks and rattles that have no business in a "luxury" car. My experience w the dealer is that they are either inept or lying to me, neither of which are acceptable. I really wanted to love this car as well as the Chrysler brand but next time I'm heading straight to the Cadillac dealer.

William

I think the biggest issue the Chrysler brand has is sharing the name of the company. People often refer to their Dodge or Plymouth as a Chrysler, even if they are not. The cars are there, and the brand has as much if not more a history as a luxury make as Buick. Change the company name to CF Motors or something not Chrysler.

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