Full 2006 Dodge Magnum Review
What's New for 2006
The popular Dodge Magnum remains essentially unchanged, but bright trim on the SXT's grille, doors and interior is new. The SXT now comes with standard foglights, and both the SXT and RT now have an optional rear-seat DVD player that flips up from the center console. Eighteen-inch wheels are now optional on the SXT and 17-inch machined aluminum wheels are offered on rear-wheel-drive versions. Later in the model year, the SXT's four-speed automatic transmission will be replaced with a five-speed unit.
Once stigmatized as stodgy vehicles only your parents would drive, station wagons have waged a comeback in recent years with the help of stylish family vehicles like the Audi A4 Avant, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Subaru Outback. Yet, we suspect that Dodge's new Magnum could be the wagon to shove the revival into the mainstream once and for all, and convince droves of buyers to give up their SUV habit.
What's so great about the 2006 Dodge Magnum? Its long, low stance and flat tail end call to mind the colossal wagons of decades past, but a sharply rising beltline, tapering roof line, short overhangs and prominent wheel arches allow it to pull off a contemporary caricature of its ancestors while giving it an athletic look. Up front, its quad grille strongly resembles that of the Ram and Durango yet manages not to appear too trucklike.
Standard 17-inch wheels and optional 18s complete the Dodge wagon's authoritative stance. The Magnum's size may call to mind one of the old land yachts, but a longer wheelbase, rear-wheel-drive configuration and hand-me-down hardware from the Mercedes E-Class put it in a different league where ride and handling characteristics are concerned. The longer wheelbase also translates into extra passenger room, and indeed the Dodge Magnum leads its peers when it comes to rear-seat legroom, while offering competitive amounts of head-, hip- and shoulder room. Cargo capacity isn't as impressive, as the Magnum's dropped roof line limits it to 27.8 cubic feet of luggage space behind the rear seats.
Power comes from one of three engines -- a 200-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6; a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6; and, for those who can never get enough, a 340-hp, 5.7-liter V8. Given that a base Magnum weighs in at a hefty 3,800 pounds, the Hemi V8 is certainly the most enticing motor of the three, though the 3.5-liter V6 should be adequate for most buyers. In order to keep its fuel consumption in check, the V8 features Chrysler's Multi Displacement System, which shuts down four of its cylinders during less demanding driving situations.
Inside, the Dodge Magnum is smartly dressed in a two-tone ensemble accented with faux brushed aluminum. White-faced gauges recessed in separate pods reinforce the wagon's sporty demeanor. Available features include safety items like stability control, side curtain airbags and self-sealing tires, as well as a powerful Boston Acoustics sound system to appeal to your hedonistic side. While sales of seven- and eight-passenger SUVs remain strong, the reality is that most families only need seating for five and a fair amount of luggage space. If you've been searching for that one perfect wagon that makes both the kids and the adults happy, the 2006 Dodge Magnum belongs on your test-drive list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2006 Dodge Magnum is available as a wagon only in one of three trim levels -- SE, SXT and RT. SE models come standard with 17-inch wheels, air conditioning, a CD player, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry and an outside temperature display. Step up to the SXT and you'll get a bigger V6 engine, along with alloy wheels, antilock brakes, stability control, privacy glass, a power driver seat and a cargo net; most of these items are available on the SE. The high-line Dodge Magnum RT is your ticket to V8 power, dual exhaust outlets, larger brakes and 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as amenities like leather upholstery and a six-speaker, 288-watt Boston Acoustics sound system. Options include leather upholstery on SE and SXT models; SXT buyers can also get the upgraded stereo. Optional on the RT only are a navigation system and dual-zone automatic climate control. Among the other extras are an MP3-compatible in-dash CD changer, side curtain airbags, adjustable pedals, self-sealing tires, seat heaters, a cargo organizer, a roof rack and a sunroof. Snowbelt residents should also consider all-wheel drive, available as a midyear option.
Powertrains and Performance
Engine choices are delineated by trim level. The Dodge Magnum SE comes with a 200-hp, 2.7-liter V6. The SXT upgrades to a 3.5-liter V6 good for 250 hp. And for those who can never get enough power, the RT has a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 stuffed under its hood. Output is rated at a prodigious 340 horses and 390 lb-ft of torque. All wagons are rear-wheel drive, unless you specify all-wheel drive as an option. A four-speed automatic transmission comes standard on V6 models; the RT and AWD-equipped SXTs upgrade to a five-speed automatic.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard across the line. Antilock brakes, traction control and stability control are optional on the base SE model and standard on SXT and RT models. Options on all 2006 Dodge Magnum models include full-length side curtain airbags, self-sealing tires and adjustable pedals. In NHTSA crash testing, the Magnum earned a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection. In side-impact tests, it earned four stars for front-occupant safety and five stars for the rear.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Dodge Magnum's long wheelbase opens up plenty of room for passengers, particularly in the backseat where the Dodge leads its peers in legroom. The Magnum's tapered roof line limits cargo capacity to just 27.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Folding those seats opens up 72 cubic feet. Its interior styling isn't revolutionary, but a two-tone color scheme, faux aluminum accents and white-faced gauges give the Magnum a contemporary look.
With massive amounts of torque flowing to its rear wheels and plenty of Mercedes-derived chassis components, the V8-powered Dodge Magnum RT provides serious fun (and serious practicality) for driving enthusiasts-turned-parents. For those who aren't quite ready for the idea of a Hemi-fed wagon, the Dodge Magnum SXT and its 3.5-liter V6 offer adequate acceleration and an overall pleasant driving experience. The base V6 makes the Magnum SE feel sluggish, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the SXT if at all possible.