Edmunds First Drive: 2005 Dodge Magnum

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 2, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,813
    Likes Received:
    1,708
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Don't Pet the Wagon

    [​IMG]

    By Erin Riches
    Date posted: 03-01-2004

    Once dismissed as stodgy vehicles only your hopelessly out-of-style parents would drive, station wagons have waged a comeback in recent years.

    Wagons like the Toyota Matrix and Volkswagen Jetta offer flexible transportation for younger buyers. The larger Chrysler PT Cruiser, Subaru Outback, VW Passat and Volvo V70 make stylish family vehicles. And sleek, crisp-handling luxury models like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class give even big spenders reason to consider a practical wagon. For all the merits of these nameplates, though, we suspect that Dodge's new Magnum could be the station wagon to shove the revival into the mainstream once and for all —and convince droves of buyers to give up their SUV habit.

    [​IMG]
    A muscle car for the whole family. The Magnum's prominent quad segment grille, rising beltline, falling roofline and oversize wheel arches offer a new take on the classic wagon shape.

    What's the Magnum got going for it? For starters, it's an extremely attractive car. Its long, low stance and flat tail end call to mind the colossal wagons of decades past, but a rising beltline, tapering roofline, short overhangs and prominent wheel arches allow it to pull off a contemporary caricature of its ancestors while giving it an athletic look. Up front, its quad segment grille strongly resembles that of the Ram and Durango yet manages not to appear trucklike. Standard 17-inch wheels (or 18s if you go for the top-of-the-line model) complete the Dodge station wagon's authoritative stance.

    Out on the road, the Magnum promises to offer an old-school flavor with few if any of the old-school drawbacks. Its rear-wheel-drive layout is a throwback to muscle cars and family cars of 30 years ago, but a Mercedes-designed five-link independent rear suspension and electronic stability control assure confident handling on both wet and dry pavement. To appease Snowbelt residents, Dodge will offer all-wheel drive starting this fall.

    The company is so confident about the Magnum's driving dynamics that the public relations staff turned journalists loose on some very twisty roads near Palm Springs — something that rarely happens when the vehicle in question is essentially a family car. The wagon's two-ton girth is apparent from the cockpit, but the suspension does a wonderful job of managing all that weight in the turns, giving the car a predictable, nimble feel. Handling doesn't come at the expense of ride quality, though, as the Magnum remains smooth and composed over most types of pavement.

    [​IMG]
    340 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, Dodge's 5.7-liter Hemi V8 gives this family wagon a ferocious bite.

    An available Hemi V8 engine sends a monstrous 390 pound-feet of torque to the Magnum's rear wheels (plenty to induce off-the-line tire spin). Unlike Hemis of the past, it can't generate the same thrust to bury your behind in the seat cushion under full throttle. Not that you'll care, though. Matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, this modern-day Hemi provides stout acceleration at any speed while keeping up a quiet, refined demeanor that lends itself to relaxed long-distance travel. Only when you stomp on the accelerator pedal does the V8 flex its muscles, letting loose a baritone rumble.

    Equally important is the fact that the Magnum's Hemi doesn't gulp down gasoline as if this was still 1970. Although Dodge has used this 5.7-liter V8 in the Ram pickup for the last couple of years, the Magnum version will be the first to incorporate the company's Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which seamlessly deactivates half the cylinders in less demanding driving situations to conserve fuel and reduce emissions. During our initial drive, we spent over 60 miles behind the wheel of a Hemi-equipped Magnum, and at no time were we aware of the engine's transitions between eight- and four-cylinder operation — the process is just that unobtrusive. The EPA has yet to release fuel mileage estimates, but Dodge's own tests put it at 17 mpg in the city and 24-25 mpg on the highway.

    Not quite ready for the idea of a 340-horsepower, muscular family wagon? Well, Dodge will offer a pair of V6 engines for buyers with smaller appetites (and less disposable income). The better bet of these two is the 3.5-liter V6 rated for 250 hp. This engine is a carryover from Dodge's Intrepid sedan, and it provides ample power for easy city and highway travel in the heavier Magnum. There was a noticeable drop-off in stamina while scaling the mountain roads on our introductory drive route, and the wide-spaced gearing of the V6's mandatory four-speed automatic transmission didn't help matters. Opting for all-wheel drive allows you to trade up to the V8 model's five-speed unit but adds an extra 200 pounds of curb weight.

    [​IMG]
    The cargo hold behind the rear seats measures 27.8 cubic feet. A reversible load floor gives owners the flexibility to haul messy cargo or pets.

    The other choice is a 200-hp, 2.7-liter V6, also borrowed from the LH cars and also matched to the four-speed automatic. Given the engine's small displacement and the Magnum's 3,800-pound body, we would caution against this combination if you can avoid it. We weren't able to get into a 2.7-equipped wagon, but a brief drive in a base version of the Magnum's corporate cousin, the Chrysler 300 sedan (it weighs a mere 3,700 pounds), suggested that most buyers would find the acceleration barely adequate with this powertrain: The engine was smooth at a cruise, but simple maneuvers in suburban traffic proved taxing.

    Trim levels are designated SE, SXT and R/T. The SE takes the small V6 and comes with four-wheel disc brakes, air conditioning, a CD player, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry and an outside temperature display. To that you can add ABS, stability control, a power driver seat and leather upholstery as options. The SXT incorporates most of these items as standard while swapping in the 3.5-liter V6. The high-line R/T is your ticket to V8 power, true dual exhaust, 18-inch wheels and an upgraded 288-watt Boston Acoustics sound system. Safety features like side curtain airbags, adjustable pedals and self-sealing tires are optional on all trims. An MP3-compatible in-dash CD changer is also available, while a DVD navigation system and dual-zone automatic climate control are R/T exclusives. The self-sealing tires are Continentals, by the way, and we were impressed by their level of grip on both dry and rain-soaked pavement.

    [​IMG]
    Inside, the styling is simple and clean. White-faced gauges recessed in their own binnacles emphasize the wagon's sporting demeanor.

    Interior styling isn't quite as fresh as the Magnum's sheet metal, but the cabin's simple layout and crisp, two-tone color scheme are a welcome changes from the Intrepid's shapeless, monochromatic ensemble. White-faced gauges housed in individual binnacles reinforce the wagon's sporting personality (well, at least in R/T trim), as does the sparing use of faux aluminum accents. Dodge has finally seen fit to replace its outdated corporate stereo head unit; the new one is well organized and includes large volume and tuning knobs. Although the Magnums on hand for the event were all preproduction cars, it was obvious to us that materials and assembly quality has improved over that of the Intrepid. Most of the panels had a solid feel, and designers did a good job of matching grain patterns.

    The Magnum's long 120-inch wheelbase translates into generous passenger space, and based on published specs, this five-seat wagon leads its peers when it comes to rear legroom, while offering competitive amounts of head-, hip- and shoulder room throughout the cabin. After spending several hours in the front seats, we can confirm that there is plenty of room in all directions, particularly in Magnums without a sunroof where head space is abundant. In back, the seat bottom could stand to be a bit longer and higher, but even taller adults and children will not feel cramped.

    Although the wagon's dropped roofline limits cargo capacity somewhat (there's 27.8 cubic feet of space behind the backseat), engineers have made excellent use of the available space. The liftgate's hinges have been mounted far forward between the C- and D-pillars, so that the gate opens more like a hatchback — you don't have to step back to avoid hitting your head after pulling on the release handle. Simple as it sounds, this setup is unusual among wagons and does make a difference when it's time to load groceries or an auto journalist's overstuffed backpack. Another family-friendly feature is the Magnum's reversible cargo floor — carpet on one side, wipe-clean plastic on the other.

    While sales of seven- and eight-passenger SUVs remain strong, the reality is that most families only need seating for five and a fair amount of luggage space. And with its rear-drive layout, available 340-horse V8 performance, high-fashion wagon body and roomy interior, the Magnum is probably the most intriguing five-passenger vehicle on sale for 2005. Consider that it only costs about $30,000 to get into an R/T, and you know this one has to be on your list.

    [​IMG]
    A rear-drive layout and a precisely tuned suspension allow this two-ton wagon to hold its own when the road turns twisty.

    The Bottom Line: Looking for a reason not to buy an SUV? With its available 340-horsepower V8, handsome wagon body and roomy, feature-laden interior, the rear-drive Magnum is one big reason.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,098
    Likes Received:
    3,056
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    certainly better than what everyone else is offering in a cheap wagon. Not what i would buy though.
     
  3. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2001
    Messages:
    123,840
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Listing between sin and salvation
    If I had a child of my own, I'd sell it for an SRT version of that in black with some custom rims, stereo, and misc. go-fast goodies...
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,813
    Likes Received:
    1,708
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    I really love the concept of this vehicle, and the price for the Hemi V8 version is practically a bargain . It makes a terrific argument against buying a similarly priced SUV.

    I can't wait to see the SRT-8. :eek3:
     
  5. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2001
    Messages:
    123,840
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Listing between sin and salvation
    I really want to see what SEMA produces for this and the 300C. Both cars own me as daily drivers. The Magnum looks like it could be a classic design in years to come.
     
  6. zlatic

    zlatic New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    5,765
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Mallorca, Spain
    hi, im ugly
     
  7. mucky

    mucky .

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    44,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, not everything....

    [​IMG]

    :eek4:
     
  8. demigod_2

    demigod_2 Guest

    So people can load their wife and kids in the car, and still swirve threw rush hour traffic on ther way to church, at 150 mph.
     
  9. michael

    michael FLORIDA > *

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2001
    Messages:
    81,988
    Likes Received:
    465
    Location:
    paradise
  10. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2001
    Messages:
    123,840
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Listing between sin and salvation
    They were still showing it as a concept as late as last summer (about 8 months ago) at a small but ritzy car show I attended...

    Charger picture
     
  11. Foo

    Foo Could I have been anyone other than me? OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2001
    Messages:
    39,277
    Likes Received:
    879
    Location:
    Houston
    i'm toying with going to a dodge dealer to at least drive one.

    :hsd:
     
  12. Tommy

    Tommy Long Member Standing

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2001
    Messages:
    65,890
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    NYC
    Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! :bigthumb:
     
  13. iZero

    iZero Guest

    That 340 horsepower figure is setting people up for higher expectations of performance than what will really be, I believe. Check out the same engine in the Durango and Ram. The actual vehicle motivation vs. the rated figures don't seem to line up.
     
  14. Byromaniac

    Byromaniac GO JETS GO OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Messages:
    18,684
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    20403
    original better looking than new
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,813
    Likes Received:
    1,708
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    DCX is estimating this and the 300C will hit 60 in 6.3 seconds.
     
  16. BenFer

    BenFer I've seen bigger OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2001
    Messages:
    26,422
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    AZ by way of RI
    i reall like the magnum :o
     
  17. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2001
    Messages:
    123,840
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Listing between sin and salvation
    Um, whoever edited my pic to a link, thanks, I had a brain fart. :hs:
     
  18. Bloke

    Bloke Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Messages:
    26,775
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Pekin, IL
    ugly ugly dash
     
  19. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,813
    Likes Received:
    1,708
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Marketing Rear-Drive: Two Messages, One Challenge

    By Alisa Priddle
    WardsAuto.com, Feb 24 2004

    As Chrysler Group prepares to sell its first family of large rear-wheel-drive vehicles, marketing efforts center on how to combine the need for two distinct messages for two different groups of potential buyers.

    Crafting a campaign to convince buyers rear-wheel drive is a better alternative presents a challenge, says Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler executive vice president-global sales, marketing and service.

    “I’m not sure whether you can do that in one campaign, because we will have two different target audiences for that vehicle,” Eberhardt tells Ward’s in a recent interview.

    The first audience is current and past owners of Chrysler Group large cars who have happily driven front-wheel-drive vehicles.

    “For them, I think we need to stress more of the benefits of a rear-wheel-drive solution and platform,” says Eberhardt. A message must be crafted “to convince them that they can have the same confidence in the 300C (RWD) that they had in their 300M (FWD) in terms of driving abilities.”

    The second set of customers is the conquest group Chrysler hopes to attract to the brand. “We believe we can take customers from traditional import brands that have always had RWD platforms with their large cars,” says Eberhardt, referring specifically to Infiniti- and BMW-brand vehicle owners.

    “There I don’t think we need to stress the benefits of RWD because they fully understand that this is the physically better solution,” he says. The challenge with this group is convincing them that Chrysler’s execution of a RWD sedan “is at least as good, if not better, than the current vehicle they have, and at a pricepoint substantially lower.”

    “That’s a very different challenge and, therefore, has to be a very different set of messages,” says Eberhardt. “So in a way, we almost need two campaigns.”

    Recognizing that mixed messages don’t work well in the marketplace, Eberhardt says his team will work to find a way to convey both messages in the campaign for the new vehicles that have begun production in Brampton, Ont., Canada.

    The campaign will launch in March or April, he says.

    The 300C and Dodge Magnum are among the nine new vehicles being launched this year, for which the marketing budget was bumped to $250 million beyond the undisclosed spending in 2003.

    “I think it’s a significant number,” says Eberhardt. “If you take the $250 million, divide it into nine, it gives you roughly $30 million. If you assume that we did have some launch budgets before that as well, we should be able to very adequately support our product launches.”

    [​IMG]
     
  20. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2001
    Messages:
    123,840
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Listing between sin and salvation

    Good things come to those who wait...
     
  21. astro1112

    astro1112 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston/Tyler, TX
    im more interested in the 300c, it has better body lines imo.
    but if you need the wagon, then this or a bimmer is the way to go
     
  22. Sonic

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

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2001
    Messages:
    48,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Westchester County,New York
    Too bad that's slower than the Accord V6, Subaru Forrester XT and Altima V6.:hsd:
     
  23. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,813
    Likes Received:
    1,708
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    It's also bigger, right wheel drive, can tow, has V8 aftermarket potential, and looks cooler and more unique than those.

    I'd rather buy the Magnum personally. :hsd:
     
  24. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2002
    Messages:
    31,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW

    I couldn't even finish reading...I had to respond. Fuckin' AWESOME!
     
  25. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2002
    Messages:
    31,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    Just as I was about to start defending the Forester Turbo, I thought about the Magnum again...

    While the Forester could probably take it on a road course, the Magnum is just...better.
     

Share This Page