There's no argument in this household about the 2005 Dodge Magnum RT with all-wheel drive.
This full-size, five-passenger wagon is a hands-down five-star vehicle. In fact, there's nothing quite like it on the market, in terms of a classic family hauler that provides a sexy image, a Schwarzenegger-like Hemi V-8 and the ability to chew through just about anything a Michigan winter can offer.
We tested a well-equipped Magnum RT AWD with seven options, including a $590 protection group that included side curtain air bags, $195 Sirius satellite radio and a $225 inferno red crystal pearl coat paint job. The bottom line: $36,070.
SHE: I'd say our Magnum test wagon has the most personality of any all-wheel-drive vehicle out there on the road, especially when you pair it with that outrageous paint job we had and the massive 340-horsepower Hemi. It's on the order of those pink Ugg boots you see celebrities like Kate Hudson wearing. They're hip and practical all at the same time.
HE: Ugh! That's not exactly the image I conjure when I think of the Magnum AWD. I'm thinking more Arnie than Kate, with lots of leather. Our Magnum looked absolutely perfect during this dreadful Michigan winter. We tested the big wagon during a particularly bad February, when it seemed to be snowing constantly. The all-wheel drive is a godsend in conditions like these. And the price and fuel-economy penalties are reasonable. The Magnum RT AWD costs $2,000 more than the standard rear-drive version, and you give up only one mile per gallon in highway driving, according to the EPA.
SHE: So there is very little compromise here. And in the meantime, you still get that unmistakable, menacing Magnum look with its long hood, massive crosshair grille and oversized headlights. We have driven different versions of the Magnum in Michigan and California, and we never fail to hear appreciative comments about the wagon, especially from men. That's something you would not expect to find in what could have been just another mom-mobile.
HE: Are you kidding? You're probably forgetting that Dodge is now part of a German company that's run primarily by men. That the Magnum came out looking and performing the way it does, especially the AWD version with the Hemi engine, is no accident. I'm more surprised that it would appeal to women. But this doesn't feel like a brute muscle car. The Chrysler engineering group, working with their counterparts in Stuttgart, was able to borrow some critical designs and components from Mercedes. Look underneath the Magnum, and you'll see an awful lot of similarity between this suspension and the one on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. The ride is really comfortable, and the car is easy to control, as we said, in all kinds of weather.
SHE: And it doesn't disappoint in terms of cargo-carrying capacity. The Magnum has an innovative L-shaped tailgate that cuts into the roofline and opens vertically instead of swinging rearward. You don't have to step back when you open it. And the design makes it easier to load bigger items. The roomy cabin has gauges patterned after those in the Viper sports car. I found the controls were easy to understand and use. The all-wheel-drive system is automatic, so you don't have to throw any switches or turn any dials to engage it. And our test vehicle had an option package that bundled power adjustable pedals, which makes what could be a big, intimidating wagon very female-friendly.
HE: The cockpit is mostly functional. And there aren't many amenities in the rear seat. As with the companion Chrysler 300C AWD sedan, we noticed some tire and driveline noise with the all-wheel-drive Magnum. Beyond that, I have few complaints. If you're looking to spend this kind of money on an all-wheel-drive people mover with lots of room, terrific performance and road-going capability, the Magnum RT AWD is at the top of the class.
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