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.
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
|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|