2006 Magnum New Car Test Drive
With the arrival of the Dodge Magnum, you didn'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 SUVs leaning in the direction of cars and/or minivans. But the tag is too vague to mean much.
Suddenly, with the Dodge Magnum, it fit. There was a car with the capability to wean the country off of SUVs. Its bold, hot rod lines might scare some 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. It's engineered for safety, styled for image and designed for utility. If those aren't what people want when they buy an SUV, what do they want?
Plus, the Magnum gets better gas mileage than full-size SUVs. The base Magnum SE comes with a 190-hp, double overhead cam V6 that gets 21 to 28 miles per gallon, at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $23,095 including destination. And the 340-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi in the R/T boasts technology that shuts down four of the engine's eight cylinders when the car is just cruising, delivering up to 30 miles per gallon during those moments. Put in everyday terms, if you used it to commute on the freeway at a steady 60 mph, you could average 25 miles per gallon.
For 2006, Dodge has pushed a different edge of the performance envelope with the SRT8. Powered by a 6.1-liter, V8 Hemi making 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, the SRT8 lives up to the Magnum name, accelerating from 0 to 60 in about five seconds and from 0 to 100 and back to 0 in less than 17 seconds. And it does that without giving up any of the utility or much of the comfort of the other three models.
Take your pick. There's not a loser in the bunch.
Four Dodge Magnum models are available for 2006.
The SE ($22,420) is nicely equipped for its price. It uses Chrysler's proven 2.7-liter aluminum V6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission and rated to tow 1000 pounds. Standard equipment includes premium cloth interior, air conditioning, cruise control, 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, rack-and-pinion steering, 17-inch wheels and disc brakes.
The SXT ($26,470) comes with a 3.5-liter single overhead cam V6 and a five-speed automatic with AutoStick. SXT models are available with all-wheel drive ($28,900). The SXT comes with ABS with Brake Assist, all-speed traction control and electronic stability control, along with aluminum wheels, tinted glass, cargo cover, and an eight-way power driver's seat.
The R/T ($30,245) gets the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi and a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. The R/T is also available with all-wheel drive ($32,345). The R/T features a leather interior, bigger and beefier brakes, a 19-gallon gas tank, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhausts, foglights, and a Boston Acoustics premium six-speaker sound system with a 288-watt digital amplifier.
The SRT8 ($37,320) features the 6.1-liter V8 Hemi and a five-speed AutoStick automatic. It's available in rear-wheel drive only. Manual air conditioning is standard on the SRT8, as are power-adjustable, sport-bolstered front seats; cruise control; power locks, windows and mirrors; power adjustable pedals; ESP; antilock brakes with Brake Assist; and 20x9-inch forged aluminum wheels with Goodyear F1 high-performance tires. The uniquely tuned, load-leveling, tauter and firmer suspension lowers the SRT8's ride height by half an inch. Brakes are vented disc front and rear.
Optional features vary by model and packaging and include dual-zone automatic climate control; a power passenger seat; heated front seats; electronic vehicle information center; electrochromic rearview mirror; air filtration; self-sealing (but not run-flat) tires; hands-free cell phone capability; power adjustable pedals; GPS navigation system with integrated six-disc CD/MP3 player; rear seat, DVD entertainment system; Sirius Satellite Radio; sunroof; roof rack; cargo cover and net; and load-leveling shocks. One of the several paint colors, Inferno Red, costs extra ($225).
Safety features on all models include advanced multistage dual front airbags and the LATCH child seat anchor system. Side-curtain airbags designed to improve head protection for front- and rear-seat occupants, however, are optional ($390). ABS with Brake Assist, traction control, and Chrysler's Electronic Stability Program are optional ($1025) and a bargain in our view.