San Francisco: The
new Dodge Magnum is a great station wagon with only one problem: Dodge
won't call it a station wagon. Instead, the marketing geniuses in
Detroit demand we call it an Active Hybrid Sport Crossover Utility
Something-or-Another Vehicle, but they're not fooling anybody. It's
still a station wagon, and a darn good one at that.
Whatever you call it,
the Magnum neatly bridges the gap between sedan and SUV by offering the
best attributes of both. It drives like a big, comfortable family sedan,
complete with four doors and seats that are easy to slide into. At the
same time, it offers tough-guy styling, a roomy cabin and huge cargo
capacity - all the features that made SUVs so popular in the past
decade. It's a brilliant combination.
For some, the Magnum is
all about styling. It's nearly impossible to ignore the wagon's sleek,
futuristic lines and truck-like nose - an obvious Dodge Ram rip-off. It
has a squatty, muscular, athletic look that seems to be influenced by
American street rods, giving it the self confidence and spunky
personality that so many of today's cars lack.
Although some potential
buyers may hate the flamboyant look, Dodge deserves credit for bringing
a love-it-or-hate-it design to market without letting focus groups and
committees sap all the style out of it. That took some guts. And if the
aggressive styling doesn't thrill you, Dodge has one more trick that
might: an optional 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower Hemi V8.
The Hemi is one of the
best engines on the market today, not only for its way-cool, muscle car
name. It's powerful enough to feel like a Boeing jet taking off every
time the light turns green, but it's also relatively smooth and quiet -
certainly more refined than other V8s offered in Dodge trucks of recent
Better yet, the engine
can deactivate four cylinders when it doesn't need the power from all
eight. It results in about 20 percent fuel savings, Dodge claims, even
though you can't feel when the engine changes from four-cylinder to
eight-cylinder mode. It's a seamless transition.
Although the base
Magnum is rear-wheel drive in the grand muscle car tradition, all-wheel
drive is available on the SXT and RT models to offer more balanced power
for cornering and more traction on snowy or wet roads. Coupled with
electronic traction and stability control, it's about as failsafe as
cars get. So if you care more about the functionality of your vehicle
than the style or power, the Magnum still delivers.
The interior is
spacious and nice looking, offering ample room in both the front and
back seats. When you need to haul something from the home improvement
store, you can fold down the back seat to create a cavernous cargo area
that rivals many SUVs.
My only gripe has to do
with a couple of controls. For one, it has the most idiotic cruise
control system ever devised. It's a stick that moves in five different
directions to do five different functions. You move it one way to engage
cruise control, a second way to set your speed, a third way to
accelerate, a fourth way to decelerate, and a fifth way to cancel cruise
control. I doubt politicians could develop a more needlessly complex
control to do something so simple.
Similarly, the radio
has too many small buttons that aren't labeled well. Most Chrysler group
products have the same problem - buttons that are all the same size, all
the same color, and with tiny white writing on them to tell you what
Despite these two
little drawbacks, I loved my week behind the wheel of this muscle car
for the 21st century. It had plenty of style, plenty of power, and
plenty of practicality.
So what more could you
ask for? Only a little honesty. It's a station wagon, and Dodge should
dang well call it one.
Why buy it? Like a
cross between a pickup truck and a classic street rod, the new Dodge
Magnum station wagon has tough-guy looks and family-car practicality. A
quiet, roomy interior makes the Magnum feel as comfortable as a
traditional family car, despite its outlandish styling. It has the look
and practicality of an SUV without any of the drawbacks. If you need a
family car but want something that's a lot more fun, check out this
wagon. It looks cool, drives fast, and can haul a bunch of stuff.
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Dodge Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
matter what you call it, the Dodge Magnum rocks
2005 Dodge Magnum RT
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