2005 Dodge Magnum SXT
Magnum SXT model shown. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

I never thought it would happen again: a full-size, rear-wheel-drive station wagon that starts under $30,000. And it even upgrades to a real live V8 Hemi. These are exciting automotive times indeed.

Built exclusively in Brampton, Ontario, the Dodge Magnum offers plenty of space for passengers and luggage, with long-distance comfort.

It’s big, and that’s a good thing. If you carry more passengers and gear than will fit in a sedan, this is one of the few options that isn’t an SUV.

In base SE form, Magnum starts at $27,995. Its 190 hp, 2.7-litre V6 does haul this hauler, but if you’re planning on loading it up most of the time, the $2,900 upgrade to the 250 hp, 3.5-litre V6 SXT is probably a better choice. Of course, the 340 hp Hemi V8 RT ($37,495) is the one turning heads, but be prepared to wait a while, since most are currently shipping Stateside. If you really need to be part of the legend right away, you can buy the Hemi fender badges for $23.80, and hope nobody calls you on it.

2005 Dodge Magnum SXT

2005 Dodge Magnum SXT

2005 Dodge Magnum SXT

2005 Dodge Magnum SXT
Magnum 3.5-litre V6 SXT shown. Click image to enlarge

Base SE’s standard features include air, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability program, traction control, rolling locks and 17-inch wheels. If you’re smaller, you may want to consider the optional power adjustable pedals ($225); Magnum is full-size throughout, and I had trouble finding the optimum seating spot between pedals and airbag.

Having grown up with rear-wheel-drive, I welcome its return: it’s a smooth, well-balanced car, and of course there’s no torque steer. If you’re not sold, consider this: none of the high-end “world class” carmakers have ever embraced front-wheel-drive. And if you’re still unsure about being pushed instead of pulled, an all-wheel-drive version will be available later on.

The brakes bring this beast quickly and confidently to a halt – Dodge’s previously spongy binders are a thing of the past – and both V6 versions come with a 4-speed automatic that lacks the V8’s gimmicky Autostick manual-shift. Magnum’s low greenhouse gives it a sleek, chopped appearance that some might find claustrophobic, although the rear quarter windows do help with visibility.

Cargo capacity is the ace here: the liftgate hinges well into the roof to make loading simple, without rising excessively high. The rear “bi-level” floor opens to accept taller items, via a sliding horizontal panel that can be folded and dropped into a groove to keep groceries from sliding ahead (since this wagon, unfortunately, lacks grocery bag hooks). Cargo space is 108 cm long with the rear 60/40 seats up; they fold to 194 cm. Rear-seat legroom will keep passengers happy on long drives.

Manoeuvrable in city traffic, Magnum really finds its legs as a comfortable highway cruiser. I like it because it’s a throwback to the days of model lines: if you needed a big car but couldn’t spend top-of-the-line dollars, you could still get the same full-size envelope, with a smaller engine and fewer options. At first glance, SE looks like the Hemi RT, with exactly the same room inside – for $9,500 less. Sweeeet.

Technical Data: 2005 Dodge Magnum V6

Base price $27,995 $30,895
Options None None
Freight $1,100 $1,100
A/C tax $100 $100
Price as tested $29,195 $32,095
Type 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size wagon 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size wagon
Layout longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive
Engine 2.7 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves 3.5 litre V6, SOHC, 24-valves
Horsepower 190 @ 6400 rpm 250 @ 6400 rpm
Torque 190 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm 250 @ 3800 rpm
Transmission 4-speed automatic 4-speed automatic
Tires 215/65R-17 (steel wheels) 215/65R-17 (aluminum wheels)
Curb weight 1750 kg (3855 lb.) 1772 kg (3903 lb.)
Wheelbase 3048 mm (120.0 in.) 3048 mm (120.0 in.)
Length 5021 mm (197.7 in.) 5021 mm (197.7 in.)
Width 1881 mm (74.1 in.) 1881 mm (74.1 in.)
Height 1481 mm (58.4 in.) 1481 mm (58.4 in.)
Cargo area 770 litres (27.2 cu. ft.) (rear seats up) 770 litres (27.2 cu. ft.) (rear seats up)
  2030 litres (71.6 cu. ft.) (rear seats down) 2030 litres (71.6 cu. ft.) (rear seats down)
Fuel consumption City: 11.4 L/100 km City: 12.2 L/100 km
  Hwy: 7.7 L/100 km Hwy: 8.1 L/100 km
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km 5 yrs/100,000 km
Assembly location Brampton, Ontario Brampton, Ontario

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