2005 Magnum New Car Test Drive
With the new Dodge Magnum, you don't have to call your car a truck any more. The term 'crossover vehicle' has been thrown around a lot the last couple years, meant to apply to those SUVs that are leaning in the direction of cars and/or minivans. But the tag is too vague to mean much. Suddenly, with the new Dodge Magnum, it fits. This is the car that has the capability to wean the country off of SUVs. Its bold hot-rod lines might scare people away, but its utility can't be denied. It's a full-size American car with spacious cargo capacity and available all-wheel drive. And it's engineered for safety. It's got image and utility. If that isn't what people want when they buy an SUV, what do they want?
Plus, it gets better gas mileage than full-size SUVs. The Magnum comes standard with a 190-horsepower double-overhead-cam V6 that gets 21-28 miles per gallon, at a stunning base price of $22,495 including destination. But the powerful new V8, the 5.7-liter Hemi, boasts a new engine technology that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when the car is just cruising, delivering up to 30 miles per gallon during those moments. Even if you got the 340-horsepower Hemi engine with the Magnum, if you used it to commute on the freeway at a steady 60 mph, you could average 25 miles per gallon, on 87 octane although 89 is recommended.
With these stellar points, it might almost be expected that the Magnum would fall short in the areas of interior room and layout, cabin comfort and quietness, ride or handling. But it does not. In fact, it excels in all those areas.
Three Dodge Magnum models are available. The SE ($21,870) is nicely equipped for its price. It uses Chrysler's proven 2.7-liter aluminum V6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, rated to tow 1000 pounds. Standard equipment includes premium cloth interior, air conditioning, power windows and locks with remote entry, a 60/40 split rear seat with center armrest, AM/FM/CD sound system, tilt-telescoping steering column, solar control window glass, rack-and-pinion steering, 17-inch wheels and disc brakes. The SE doesn't have ABS with brake assist, traction control or electronic stability, but these three features together are available for $1000, which is a bargain a buyer can't afford to pass up.
The SXT ($25,370) comes with a 3.5-liter single-overhead-cam V6 that makes 250 horsepower and gets 19/27 miles per gallon on 89 octane recommended, 87 acceptable. In these days of high V8 horsepower, that 250 number might have lost its meaning, but 250 horsepower is a lot, especially effective with 250 pound-feet of torque as this engine offers. The SXT uses the same four-speed automatic with a tall overdrive for good gas mileage. 2005 SXT models will also offer all-wheel drive, which comes with a five-speed automatic. Equipment-wise, the SXT most notably adds the magic combination of ABS with brake assist, all-speed traction control and electronic stability. It also offers aluminum wheels, tinted glass, cargo cover, and an eight-way power driver's seat.
The R/T ($29,370) gets the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi, delivering 340 horsepower and a humongous 390 pound-feet or torque, rated to tow 3800 pounds. It uses a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick, designed by Mercedes and built in the U.S. by Chrysler. The R/T adds to the SXT features a leather interior, bigger and beefier brakes, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhausts, foglights, and a Boston Acoustics premium six-speaker sound system with a 288-watt digital amplifier.
Optional equipment includes a power passenger seat, heated front seats, dual zone automatic climate control, electronic vehicle information center, electrochromic rearview mirror, front and rear air curtains, air filtration, self-sealing tires, hands-free cellphone capability, power adjustable pedals, GPS navigation system with integrated six-disc CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS satellite radio, sunroof and load-leveling shocks.