Chrysler 300S Vs. Chevrolet SS Vs. BMW 335i

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Ask AutoGuide, the internet’s premiere vehicular-advice column is back in business. But like a long-running Broadway musical you’d better act fast because this is strictly a limited-time engagement.

In contrast to productions like Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera or Cats this performance won’t drag on for hours so hopefully you don’t fall asleep and get spittle on your Sunday best. We don’t want that and neither do you, especially since dry-cleaning is inconvenient and uses caustic chemicals.

This week Walter sent us an e-mail requesting some automotive shopping assistance. He’s looking for a new car and has up to $45,000 to spend on said ride. Currently he owns a 2011 Ford F-150 with the 5.0-liter V8 engine as well as a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis.

A self-proclaimed baby boomer, Walt is an enthusiast of traditional cars and has a “burning desire” to get another rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered American sedan, though he’s well aware that his options are fairly limited these days. It’s also understandable why he’d want an upgrade from his aging Panther car. He’ll consider German models but has some reservations about them, mostly their notoriously high maintenance costs; Japanese vehicles are off limits.

Other features he demands include air conditioning, a decent sound system with AM/FM radio and a CD player; an automatic transmission is mandatory as well. In addition to large sedans Walter will also consider cars like the 2015 Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro. But honestly we think he can do better without resorting to two-door models, which have a host of issues all their own. Does he really want a low-slung vehicle with limited outward visibility? Probably not, plus the brand-new ‘Stang is on the way so why would you ever buy the outgoing version? Sticking with four-doors here are our recommendations.

And the first suggestion we’re going to make is one that Walt has already considered. On paper the Chrysler 300 should be the perfect vehicle for him. It’s rear-wheel drive, features a powerful Hemi engine and has the style, comfort, features and pricing to check all his boxes. A V8-powered 300S can be had for around $38,200 including delivery fees though sans any rebates that may be available.

But there’s one aspect of this sedan that’s caused him great anxiety: quality. His concerns are not without merit; Chrysler has faced reliability issues for decades, from its problem-prone lineup of 1957 models to the troublesome Ultradrive automatic transmission to sludge-choked 2.7-liter V6 engines.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Chrysler 300 AWD Review

Despite its general reputation for lackadaisical quality the Pentastar brand and its various divisions have made enormous strides in recent years. They truly build some excellent products these days. For instance the Ram pickup is world class, the Dodge Dart small car is more than competitive and the new 200 sedan is stylish and feature laden, though Fiat’s offerings are still pretty hit or miss.

Influential watchdog organization Consumer Reports even recommends the recently refreshed 300. Editors praised the car’s comfortable ride, responsive handling and well-done interior. Hemi-powered models should even have better-than-average reliability, topping other large sedans like the Nissan Maxima and Hyundai Genesis.

Powering this American luxury car is either a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or a burly a 5.7-liter Hemi. The two-by-four pumps out 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, all of which is routed through a five-speed automatic transmission to either the rear or all four wheels. The six-cylinder engine is matched to an eight-speed gearbox, something that should be paired with the Hemi in 2015.

According to the EPA fuel economy clocks in at 15 miles per gallon around town and 25 on the interstate; combined consumption hits 18 MPG.

The most affordable 300S equipped with the optional Hemi engine, which adds $2,800 to the bottom line, comes with a host of highly desirable standard features, things like leather seats, cruise control, a backup camera, the company’s acclaimed Uconnect infotainment system, dual-zone climate control and much more. It should meet all of Walter’s abovementioned requirements.

Chrysler has a lot to be proud of with the 2014 300. It looks nice, drives well and comes with all kinds of nifty additions. The Hemi V8 is powerful and refined, giving the car ample scoot. This is a model that should not disappoint.

If something with a slightly different look is desired Walter should also check out the Dodge Charger and Challenger models, which from a mechanical standpoint are essentially the same as the 300. The charger has different interior and exterior styling while the Challenger is a large, two-door performance car with a surprisingly comfortable interior. Either way you really can’t go wrong.

Fortunately Chrysler isn’t the only Detroit automaker that offers a V8-powered large sedan. Chevrolet’s new SS features a menacing body and blistering performance. This full-size four-door can blast from zero to 60 miles an hour in just 4.7 seconds!

Power comes courtesy of a 6.2-liter small-block that puts out 415 ponies with an identical measure of torque. The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic that routs power rearward.

Curiously this quintessentially American car is built in the land down under at GM’s facility in Elizabeth, South Australia. Guh-day, mate! Not surprisingly it shares the same architecture as Chevy’s Camaro, the Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and Holden’s VF Commodore so it should be built to withstand years of abuse.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet SS Review

Pricing out a new SS is a refreshingly simple affair. There’s just one trim level to choose from, which includes but one engine and transmission combination. Only five exterior colors are available and one hue for the cabin. Available options are just as sparse, including a full-size spare tire ($500) and a power sunroof ($900).

Fortunately this car is well equipped right out of the gate. It comes with a navigation system, heated and ventilated front seats, a cabin filter, heads-up display, dual-zone climate control and more. Power windows, locks and mirrors are also included, as is a CD player and air conditioning.

There’s a lot to like about the Chevrolet SS, including the way it looks, sounds and drives; this car is a lot of fun. Unfortunately it’s not all that fuel efficient. It’s a good bit less economical to operate than the 300. Combined it stickers at 17 miles per gallon, a figure that’s derived from its city score of 14 and its highway rating of just 21 MPG.

Pricing is another sore spot because this bow-tie bruiser is not cheap. With zero options it checks out at a little less than 46 grand, a figure that includes $995 for shipping and handling plus an additional $1,300 to cover the gas-guzzler tax.

If you can swing the monthly payment Chevy’s SS is an appealing sedan, with tons of performance and aggressive styling. This car seats five passengers, has four doors and gives you ZERO excuses for letting a Mustang GT beat you while merging on the freeway.

No, it’s not American and unfortunately it doesn’t even offer a V8 engine, but just hear us out for a minute. The BMW 335i makes a pretty compelling case for itself.

When he initially e-mailed us Walter mentioned that he’d be amenable to some German cars, though he was concerned about reliability. He specifically called out the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 5 Series as models he might be interested in. Both can be had with a V8 engine though neither for 45 grand. The 550i kicks off around $64,000 while the AMG version of the C-Class starts around $61,000.

Skirting the Ask AutoGuide rules of engagement a bit, hopefully without violating the Geneva Convention, we’re going to recommend the ever-popular 3 Series. The 335i offers AMPLE thrust, a reasonably spacious interior and all the features Walt craves.

SEE ALSO: 2014 BMW 3 Series GT Review

In lieu of a classic V8 this car is motivated by a turbocharged inline six. With all kinds of goodies including direct fuel injection and variable valve timing this 3.0-liter engine puts out a claimed 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, though we suspect those figures are conservative, very conservative because this car is seriously quick and exceedingly smooth.

Drivers can opt for either a standard eight-speed automatic transmission or an available six-speed manual, which is a no-cost option. Two four-cylinder engines are also available in lesser versions of the 3 Series. The 240 hp 328i provides a surprisingly enjoyable driving experience.

As for the BMW 335i, it comes standard with automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, eight-way power front seats, burled walnut trim, push-button start, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and more items than we care to list… or you’d want to read.

Out-the-door one of these Bavarian beauties can be yours for $44,350 including $950 in destination fees. But keep in mind this is as low as she goes, as that figure includes ZERO options.

Allaying some of Walter’s fears the 3 Series is backed by a four-year, 50,000-mile new-vehicle warranty; you also get four years of free roadside assistance and a DOZEN years of rust-perforation protection. These guarantees should help him sleep more easily if he decides to take one home.

The 3 Series meets this week’s budgetary requirements and offers an on-road experience that’s tough to beat, especially since it’s smaller than either the Chrysler 300 or the Chevrolet SS. This car’s inline six sings like an opera master and the 335i’s chassis loves to dance. It’s a solid recommendation.

One car worth mentioning – and berating – is the Ford Taurus SHO. This large four-door is designed to compete with the likes of Chevrolet’s SS and the Chrysler 300 but sadly it fails in so many ways.

The car is massive and very heavy. The SHO’s EcoBoost V6 has plenty of power but in practice it’s not that efficient or smooth. Additionally the Taurus’ cabin is laughably space inefficient. How can such a big sedan have such a tiny interior? The front foot wells are unacceptably narrow and lumpier than resting your feet on a sack of potatoes. On top of all this, reliability is poor according to Consumer Reports.

Appearances can be deceiving. This SHO is fast and looks pretty sporty, but do yourself a favor and stay far away. The trio we mentioned above are much more compelling options.

As always, good luck in your quest for a new family vehicle, Walter, and thanks again for taking the time to Ask AutoGuide.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 4 comments
  • M Harris M Harris on Jul 14, 2014

    Quick correction to my post...the 335i is RWD, so I guess it really is a better deal...:-)

  • Isend2C Isend2C on Jul 14, 2014

    Hyundai Genesis could be a compelling choice too if Walt is OKay with Korean cars. It can have an 8-speed and a 5.0 V8 with 400+ HP and RWD.