| November 2004
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2005 Dodge Magnum SXT
Large and solid feel from the moment you touch the door and enter to the
moment you come back from your drive. Smooth ride and very stable feel.
Power and versatility with plenty of legroom.
Styling is not for everyone with a long front end. Interior is not airy
with thin windows.
has grabbed life by the horns and produced a stunning vehicle. The 2005
Dodge Magnum combines American-Muscle looks with German-car driving
characteristics, all at a 'wow-em' price point.
"The Dodge Magnum offers the right formula of proportions, packaging and
performance that sets it far apart from the competition," said Craig Love,
Vice President-Rear-Wheel-Drive Product Team. "With its unique profile,
exceptional versatility, available HEMI power and rear-wheel-drive
performance, there is nothing else like it in the marketplace."
Dodge Magnum's exterior offers a bold hood and large truck-like front
end. The long tapered roofline is dramatic. Both front and rear wheels
are pushed to the corners emphasizing their size and lengthening the car.
This concept-vehicle look is enhanced by a low roofline and narrowing
windows as you move to the rear. The overall body is tall and substantial
offering a feeling of solidity not found on many cars in its price range.
Dodge Magnum blends the functional attributes of
a sport-utility, the character of a sport sedan and the soul of a Viper to
create a unique vehicle for Dodge. Inside the seating position can be
raised to a higher than normal position, about 2.5 inches higher than most
passenger cars for a better view of the road. In back, a flexible cargo
area is offered, with a false floor under which many items can be stored
and when rear seats are folded forward a large spacious area is available
for storage of long items. Hinging the top of the rear gate midway
between the C- and D-pillar creates the unusually large cargo opening,
providing 11.3 sq. ft. of flexibility.
Standard in our mid range SXT model is a manual climate
control system and an easy to use stereo system. The steering wheel is
manually adjustable in tilt and telescoping functions and does not offer
any remote control of the stereo. Power door locks are speed sensitive to
lock as you start to drive off. Front as well as rear air outlets are
also offered to send air to rear seat passengers faster. There are also
many areas for storage from the large and deep center armrest to the many
smaller areas around the shift lever as well as in-door storage. The
driver's seat is powered eight ways, with the passenger seat only manually
adjustable. Darkened glass for the rear two windows provides privacy for
rear compartments. The rear trunk space is wide and even offers built in
holders for milk gallons on both sides. The floor flips open to reveal
more divided storage so that things do not slide around when you are
driving fast through the curves. A manual cargo area cover tidies things
up very nicely, however we found it difficult to remove when putting the
rear seats down.
The front seats are cushioned from soft foam that is
comfortable in long journeys. Entry and egress are particularly
comfortable. To our disliking was the overuse of plastic in many forms
throughout the interior. Though it is a tad nicer than in the usual
American offering, with the use of soft rubbery plastic used in various
areas, the dash and doors are simply giant pieces of plastic. We believe
that this style will not be favored a few years down the road. Up front,
the large and deep dashboard makes the long front hood seem even farther
away, making for a large car feeling in what should be a performance
oriented car. Mercedes owners will likely cringe at the turn signal and
cruise control stalks, as they are exactly the same as on their higher
priced cars; not to mention the suspension, stability control components,
and soundproofing materials. For eager tuners, this Magnum can easily be
converted to a wood-laden, leather-wrapped interior in the aftermarket
accessory market making for a luxury interior at significant savings to
any other vehicle.
The Magnum lacks fog lamps
up front, something we would like to see added. The main beams are very
bright, nonetheless, with a classic clear round beam cut off at the tope
edge. The high beam is also very bright and casts light far down the road
in front of the car, it is a great leap over many other cars we have
tested previously. Xenon lighting was not on our model so you would need
to upgrade to the RT model to be able to include that. In back the large
lid is difficult to close for smaller people, we would like to see a
better grab handle and an easy to close trunk lid. There was also no
sunroof in our model and we highly suggest it as an option to make the
interior more airy and open. We also did not like the two interior color
choices, with a grey or a black being the only choices, dual tone and
beige should also be options. The Dodge web site shows most options to
you but does not describe many packages and what is included in those
packages so you would need to get a print brochure to be able to make your
Three engine choices are offered, from a 2.7 Liter V6 in the
base SE model, to a 3.5 Liter V6 in the mid range SXT model we tested, to
the large 5.7 Liter V8 Hemi in the RT model. Our midrange SXT model
features a high output V-6 engine. It was plenty powerful with 250
horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy came in at 23 miles per
gallon on our test results but stated numbers are 19 city, 27 highway.
The 3.5 Liter V6 is powerful but not free flowing in the delivery of its
power as German engines are. It is noisy when revved hard and we have
tested many better engines. This is mated to a four speed automatic
transmission, which is a variation of the automatic used on previous
Chrysler vehicles. We found this transmission to be smooth and adequate
but not of the same quality as a German built transmission.
Drivability is where the
Magnum shines. We instantly noticed the longer wheelbase which provided a
more balanced ride. The wider track not only gives more room inside for
the drivers but also makes for more stability in corners. Noise,
vibration and harshness are totally eliminated for a super-smooth and
quiet ride. Rear wheel drives helps to give a sports car like push when
you stomp on the pedal. You will find yourself driving much faster than
the posted speed limit, something we found many owners doing in this
highly stable car. Now if Dodge would only lobby states to eliminate the
speed limit on straight stretches of highway!
The steering is accurate
yet soft, typical of other Chrysler vehicles like the Crossfire. We would
like to have more feedback to the driver in this performance-oriented
vehicle in upcoming models. The thick windows and extra insulation all
around makes for a very quiet interior cabin. We usually had to crack
open a window to get more road feel during around-the-town driving. On
highways however, the quietness is beneficial. Body dive and squat are
The suspension is excellent
and most drivers of this Magnum probably have never felt anything like
it. "The front and rear suspension are all-new. We used short and long
arm design in the front and a sophisticated five-bar link, independent
rear suspension. The suspension will delight performance drivers with
excellent handling and improved responsiveness while also providing
impressively smooth ride characteristics," said Eric Ridenour, from the
Product Development department. The SXT and SE models are tuned for a
smooth ride while the RT model is tuned for greater handling performance.
In our SXT model, body roll is a bit more than we would like and we
suggest the RT model for those seeking a more sports car like ride.
Four-wheel disc brakes are
standard on all Dodge Magnum models. A combined ABS and Traction Control
system is standard with the 3.5- and 5.7-liter engines. All-Speed
Traction Control enhances mobility and prevents wheel slip when
accelerating on slippery surfaces. Depending on how slippery, an
automatically activated Winter Mode feature will select lower transmission
up-shift speeds on the five-speed automatic transmission. It also provides
a measure of directional stability control, an advancement beyond prior
traction control systems used in Dodge. Using the wheel-speed sensors, it
can detect excessive yaw and help keep the car on the intended course, as
for instance, when accelerating around a curve. Electronic Stability
Program, which includes a Brake Assist feature, is standard on Dodge
Magnum SXT and RT. It is optional on the Dodge Magnum SE. It is offered
for the first time on a North American-built Chrysler Group vehicle.
Many other safety features
are also found on this rear wheel drive vehicle. Auto-reverse windows
help prevent injuries to children. Weight sensing air bags inflate less
so as not to hurt little ones. Seat belt pretensioners remove slack when
sudden movements of the vehicle occur. Self-sealing tires are optional
which help reduce the possibility of a flat tire. Side curtain airbags
extend to all front and rear passengers. The Magnum has recently scored a
5-Star rating in the Governments' frontal crash tests. The Magnum is also
covered by a 7 year 70,000 mile powertrain warranty.
The cost of our model was a
total of $25,995. The base price of the Magnum SXT is $21,870. Our
optional equipment included a customer preferred package of $2,500 and
$1,000 for the 3.5L engine in the SXT model, destination of $625 brought
the total sticker to almost $26,000. For the money this is an exceptional
handling vehicle with loads of room. The ride is particularly good, and
if you want head turning style, this Magnum surely delivers that. One
thing we just cannot figure out is why the Chrysler 300 Wagon is not
available in the US which would offer a more elegant style than the
all-out bold looks of the Magnum.