AW Vehicle Review - 2005 Dodge Magnum

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    A Bigger Charge: Magnum delivers beefy looks, power and hyper-style to the mainstream

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    Magnum drivers sit 2.5 inches higher than those in Intrepids, can have a Hemi driving the rear wheels, and wagon utility without minivan stigma.

    By KEVIN A. WILSON
    (08:30 March 22, 2004)

    YOU WILL HAVE WANDERED INTO SOME strange corners of the car-fan universe before you find a proponent of the previous Dodge Magnum, a rear-drive sedan last produced in 1978 that could trace its mechanical roots to the compact Valiant of the ’60s and its soul to the police cruiser and taxicab market. Even among the Mopar faithful, it is a nonentity; Magnum is remembered as the name on the old 318-cid V8. So we were mildly surprised when present-day Chrysler applied the old name to its all-new-think 2005 sports tourer, the reinvention of the rear-wheel-drive wagon form that—we were once told—had been rendered obsolete by Chrysler’s own creation of the minivan.

    Once we’d encountered it, though, we realized the word fits the new car too well to be set aside in favor of something like “Coronet.”

    The word magnum has two common definitions: One designates ammunition (and therefore the weapon designed to fire it) with a bigger-than-normal charge of explosive in its shell; the other denotes a larger-than-normal bottle to contain wine or liquor—about 1.5 liters (twice an ordinary wine bottle) or two-fifths of a gallon.

    The new Dodge packs a magnum wallop, both with the performance of the optional Hemi under its hood and in the cargo space accessible through its expansive tailgate, hinged well forward atop the roof. So it is a Magnum in both the extra-explosive and extra-volume senses.

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    Built on the same 120-inch wheelbase as the Chrysler 300 (AW, March 8), the Magnum uses the same mechanicals, for the most part, with some minor calibration changes for brand character and to accommodate the small difference in weight between the cars.

    Even more than the 300, it is a bold design statement. Take the original Durango SUV and blend it with some street rodder’s deranged dream of a Charger station wagon and you might come up with something close to this. The big grille looks like it came straight off the truck range, though it is actually the first rendition of a slightly revised face for the brand. The high beltline and upright seating position are similarly SUV-like, and the short greenhouse with long roof and vertical sides gives it the tank-like aspect that seems to appeal to the American mainstream in its search for a sense of security on the road.

    We’ve driven the Magnum now in sunny weather, through a rare desert rain and over packed snow and ice in far northern Michigan, and if its mission is to give an alternative to the SUV that still provides the robust structure, interior volume and utility of such vehicles, it is spot-on. And we haven’t even met the all-wheel-drive model coming this fall.

    Of course, its mission goes a bit beyond being the road-going equivalent of a sugar substitute, an almost-as-good replacement for something deemed “bad for you” by the cultural scolds who seem to have so much influence over American consumers. The scolds won’t leave this two-ton performer alone for long, so it can’t pin its hopes only on those whose sweeteners come in blue or pink envelopes.

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    Its ambition is indicated in the ad slogan, “the new face of American muscle.” Magnum aims to put some of the Viper high-perf flavor into the NASCAR dad’s garage. That escapee-from-Autorama design is a start, and you get it even if you opt for the base trim level. Not everyone will love it, but Dodge learned with its pickup that trying to please everyone is no way to play the game. Instead, it makes a distinctive statement that appeals strongly to some portion of the market. The company doesn’t dominate any segment, but has seen strong growth in its own formerly minimal market share.

    Design isn’t all the base car has going for it. Equipped with a 2.7-liter V6 making 190 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, the Magnum SE is comparable to BMW’s base 5 Series wagon with its 184-hp inline six. The Dodge weighs less than 100 pounds more, settles for a four-speed automatic only, where BMW offers your choice of five speeds to shift for yourself, or automatic. But the Dodge also starts at $22,495, including destination, less than half the base price of a 525i Touring automatic, and the comparison is not as invidious as it would have been in the old days—there is a lot of Mercedes-think in this car’s chassis and dynamics, though it comes with the cloth interior and other attributes that status-aware M-B tends to leave at home for the German market.

    Standard equipment includes a 60/40 split folding rear seat, power locks with remote entry, AM/FM CD audio, manual tilt/telescope steering column, power windows and four-wheel discs. ABS is not standard, but optional at this level only. Once you pop the $1,000 for ABS, smaller costs apply for all-speed traction control or even the mighty Electronic Stability Program derived from Mercedes. Other options include an eight-way power seat, power tilt/telescope column, rain-sensing wipers and more. We found a Magnum SE with ESP acceptable in the Michigan flatlands, though it might feel challenged for power with a full load at altitude—a consideration in a vehicle that could well be expected to make a cross-country family vacation trip or two.

    The next step up is the $25,995 SXT, with a 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 that would serve anyone’s needs adequately. Here, the full ABS/traction control/ESP package is standard, and it really does the job on the snow. With the 3.5 you can get enough grunt going to the rear axle to notice that the ESP is not intrusive, allowing enough rear tire slip angle to let the driver adjust the car’s handling attitude with the throttle. The system helps you maintain control, using the brakes and the throttle to keep the car stable. Turn it off, and the throttle intervention is cut off, but the brakes will still try to help you cope with matters.

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    The R/T tops the range and has the same 5.7-liter, 340-hp, 390-lb-ft Hemi V8 as in the 300C and uses the Mercedes-designed, Chrysler-built (in Kenosha, Wisconsin) five-speed automatic. Dodge says it will get to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, and we suspect it might do better. The automatic has Chrysler’s Autostick shifter for manual selection of gears, and the R/T’s standard equipment list includes 18-inch polished aluminum wheels (where lesser models have 17s), dual exhaust, larger disc brakes, fog lamps, leather seating and a premium sound system with six speakers and 288-watt amp. Chrysler claims it offers the most horsepower you can get for a base price less than $30,000.

    We sampled all these models and electronic support features over three special snow-packed tracks (slalom, skidpad and lane-change maneuvers) at the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. It was fun doing big donuts and drifting the Magnum R/T around the skidpad at a lurid angle, but it wasn’t particularly challenging to do so. The car has good balance and plenty of power, easily modulated. A trained driver has no problem and even the average jamoke on the highway will stand a better chance of evading an emergency than he would in an SUV, thanks to the handling with the all-independent suspension and tires selected for genuine all-weather traction. Yes, real snow tires would be recommended if you’re in the heavy stuff a lot, but the stock Goodyears and Continentals both proved adequate if your need is only occasional. And if you’re remembering scary old live-axle Detroit iron on bias-ply tires, fuggetaboutit. Not even close. This thing tracks steady and true even when you put the power down a little early while cornering over bumpy gravel with patches of ice atop it, a circumstance that would have put an ’89 Magnum tail-first into a tree at half the speed.

    So, distinctive style, Detroit-iron attitude and 21st century electronics, all at a cost no higher than you’d pay for a basic transportation module. If the comparison to the 5 Series wagon seems like a stretch to you, that is because there is little that compares directly to the Magnum. There is some risk in that, but the Dodge boys are confident that being different is a good thing. You’re not going to get much argument on that premise from this corner of the car-fan universe.

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    ON SALE: May
    BASE PRICE: $29,995
    POWERTRAIN: 5.7-liter, 340-hp, 390-lb-ft Hemi V8; rwd, five-speed automatic
    CURB WEIGHT: 4142 pounds
    0 to 60 MPH: 6.3 seconds (mfr.)

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  2. mucky

    mucky .

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    :cool: fucking wagon.
     
  3. Priest Tango

    Priest Tango Custom User Tits

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  4. B17A

    B17A Now with more ///M

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  5. Dr.Smasher

    Dr.Smasher .

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    Wagons kick ass
     
  6. Kalaman

    Kalaman Guest

    I want one
     
  7. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    Go, Daimler! :o
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    "The New Face of American Muscle"

    :cool: :cool: :cool:
     
  9. ERock

    ERock My Face Is Kittah OT Supporter

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    I want one those are the shit
     
  10. Abraxis

    Abraxis Denny Crane.

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    On the short list for the next car. Hope it's successful, we need more functional & fun muscle cars like this. Would be nice to spruce up the dash/controls some, but not if it means higher cost.
     
  11. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    I'd pimp that station wagon.:)
     
  12. LowkeyG

    LowkeyG OT Supporter

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    I like that tagline

    Still havent read a negative review on the two LX's
     
  13. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

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    Ahhh, the Magnum...so dreamy.

    Practical, powerful, and aggressive-looking. It's almost the perfect car. And for the price, WOW.
     

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