Dodge Magnum Shoots for a Distinctive Feel

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Physician's Money Digest, May 31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 10

You don't need eyes or ears to be able to tellthe difference in the new Dodge Magnum.The 2005 model is so different inside andout, you can actually feel the difference withyour hands. The interior gives a real tactile thrill, onethat is decidedly different.

Unique and Uncommon Styling

The window switches are shaped a bit different thanin other cars. It's not just the shape of the switches or theknobs—it's their function, movement, and the sensationof the materials. The bucket-like seats are uniquely sewnand shaped. The distinctive headrests provide a feelingof great safety and support. Trevor Creed, Chrysler's topdesigner, calls the Magnum a "family, flexible sportwagon, and it's not just the design, it's the holisticapproach—the whole riding experience is magic."

There are certainly some classic Dodge cues throughoutthe Magnum. The grille is definitely from the Dodgeheritage, and the entire vehicle exudes that muscularstance found on other Dodge family members.Particularly noticeable at first glance is the shorter sideglass all-around—the roof looks chopped, like a hot rod.

The Magnum has an overall length of 190 inches, along 120-inch wheelbase, and an overall height of 58.4inches. It will compete with the Subaru Legacy andVolvo V70. The Magnum comes in one body style: fourdoors with an expansive, one-of-a-kind hatch trunk thatis part of the tapered roofline. As with any well builtvehicle, you have a tremendous number of ways you canorder your Magnum. At first, all Magnums will be rearwheel-drive–powered by a choice of two 6-cylinderengines, 2.7- or 3.5-liter. A HEMI-powered 5.7-liter(345 cubic-inch) V8 that puts out 340 hp and 390 footpounds of torque is available in the RT model.

Roomy Interior and Extras

Go ahead and open the driver's door, which is thickand gratifying. Pull it closed and sit in the quiet interiorcabin. The cabin is well appointed with a four-spokesteering wheel and is complemented by four well placedwhite competitive gauges with silver accents. The interioris spacious and comfortable. There is world-classstorage and cargo space with split, fold-down rear seatsand an armrest. The front center stack is loaded with anew heating and air conditioning unit that reads thetemperature on your body, not the ambient cabin.

The center console is chock full of pleasantries. Theoptional 5-speed automatic offers AutoStick. Slap itaway from you with the back of your right hand andyou go up a gear. Slap it toward you with the palm ofyour hand to downshift. It's such a good design thatChrysler's parent Mercedes uses it instead of their originaldesign. The optional navigation system is one of thebest available. Its integral entertainment system will notonly work with your MP3 devices, it will also work withyour Bluetooth-equipped telephone.

The Magnum has all the necessary safety in placewith dual air bags and full-length side curtains to protectyou in a side impact or rollover. Antilock brakes areavailable. The Electronic Stability Program will catchyou in a slide. Try it during your test drive. Overall, it'sa pleasant surprise to see that luxury and performancehave a sparkling new shape.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research reportersand the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.