Comparison: 2014 Chevrolet SS vs. Chrysler 300 SRT
Holding out for more: Two American sedans flex their muscles.
For several years, the Chrysler 300 SRT has gone mostly unchallenged in the luxo-muscle category. You could say cars with AMG, RS or M badges were playing with the same formula, but the European competitors are far more James Bond than John McLane in both price and presence. GM has built a competitor for years, but it lived on a different continent. While it managed to sneak over for a few years as a Pontiac, it apparently has trouble consistently finding its way across the ocean. Oh the irony for a car named Commodore. Maybe that's why it lost its rank and is now merely the Chevrolet SS.
This is one of the more in-depth performance comparisons I've done, putting more than 1000 miles on each car over two weeks. We commuted, did family weekend duty as well as bring them to our drag strip, figure-eight, a road course and even using our Car of the Year road loop. We drove in everything from sunny 70 degree Huntington Beach sunshine, to near freezing and even pouring rain. We got everything but a blizzard or zombie apocalypse.
Starting with the very basics, both cars here are big sedans, the smaller Chevy still stretches 195.5 inches from stem to stern. The Chrysler is roughly 5 inches longer and its 4387 pounds is 474 pounds more portly than the SS. Both are rear wheel drive and make their power with pushrod V-8s, the SS a 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque 6.2 liter LS3 and the SRT sporting a 470 hp and 470 lb-ft 6.4 liter Hemi monster. Behind the bell housing is a 6-speed auto in the SS, which sounds shockingly archaic until we talk about the 5-speed in the Chrysler. Especially surprising when you consider the rest of the tech the 300 is packing.
The window sticker on this particular 300 SRT should have come with a warning. The $45,770 of the SS didn't shock anyone, while the $61,570 for the SRT nearly knocked us over. The SS feels well equipped with navigation, heated seats, blind spot warning, all the usual suspects, but the Chrysler adds things like adaptive cruise control and active suspension that aren't even options on the Chevy. The 300 also has nearly $5500 in interior upgrades that could easily be skipped without a second thought and that would shave that price gap down quite a bit. The last point of economic interest is the $1300 gas-guzzler tax on the SS compared to the $1000 tacked onto the SRT. We would go into the fuel economy, but if you really care about that, you're looking at the wrong cars. Let's talk speed instead.
At the drag strip, the SRT's extra ponies get a little more work done than the SS, even if just by a nose. The SRT beats the SS's 4.6 second run from 0-60mph by 0.2 seconds and continues to be faster until just after 80 mph were the SS starts to catch back up. The SRT barely holds on in the quarter-mile, running a 12.9 to the Chevy's 13.0. On the way back down from 60, the SS shocks the SRT, stopping in a sports-car-like 105 feet, 8 shorter than the Chrysler. The figure eight also favored the SS by a considerable margin, 24.8 seconds compared to 25.2 despite the extra Hemi-thrust.
More notable, was Kim Reynolds's assertion that "this was barely a comparison, the SS is in a different league dynamically." During my figure-eight laps, I was less concerned with times and more with the enjoyment factor. The big SRT fully lives up to its muscle car persona with giant smoky power slides. Apparently SRT stands for Shreds Rear Tires. It isn't precise and it isn't refined, but man is it fun. The 300 SRT should be standard issue for every Hollywood car chase. The SS will roast tires as well, but it so much more controlled and graceful. The biggest difference is choice. The SS can be driven like a sports sedan, neat, tidy and fast; pick a line and use it. You can feed in power with a watchmaker's precision or hammer it like carving a sundial out of stone. Either way is just as enjoyable in the Chevy, while trying to be smooth and tight in the Chrysler is an exercise in frustration.
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WITH.............POWER RETRACTABLE T-TOPS