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Old 01-24-2007, 07:23 AM   #1
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2006 Dodge Magnum SXT

Well folks, it's been a while - but I haven't taken time off from collecting data. There are over 15 cars tested in the current database. Everything from the rediculously inefficient Jeep Grand Cherokee V-8, to the frugal Kia Spectra. A new feature is the Plus and Minus section: a quick overview of the vehicle. Today's review is the Dodge Magnum...

+ Bold Styling
+ Safety Features
+ Excellent Suspension

- Bold Styling
- FE
- Cruise Control Stick

Stats and Specs:

2006 Dodge Magnum
Trim Level: SXT
EPA Vehicle Class: Specialty-Purpose Vehicle / SUV-2WD (RWD)
Engine: DOHC 3.5L V-6, rated at 250 Horsepower / 250 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic with torque converter and "Manumatic" Shift-Gate
EPA Mileage Estimates (City/Highway/Combined Cycle): 19/27/22
Avg. Speed: 44
Time = 2.3 hours
Miles = 105
Weather Conditions over 2-days: Stormy with considerable rain. Temp range 65-85F
Driving Style: Average
Location Test: Memphis and Rural Mississippi

MPG = 20.4

Conclusion and Editor's Notes: Having debuted as the "Crossover" cousin to the Chrysler 300 (don't dare call it a "wagon") the image of the family hauler has drastically changed. The FE was lower than the EPA estimate, even though most driving was "Highway". The EPA estimate of 27 mpg is a very lofty average, and is highly unlikely. The base engine (EPA 21/28/24) has been driven in the 300 and seems to be labored with not much in the benefit of better economy.

The vehicle is simply a large, heavy, rear-wheel drive car that needs power to get it going. The 3.5L is badged as "High-Output" and did just as advertised. Teamed with the RWD and the nicely engineered, Mercedes rear suspension, the Magnum grabbed corners, accelerated briskly, and rode nicely when prompted. If you plan on driving this car in any bad weather, make sure you opt for the traction control / stability program. Driving in wet weather engaged the system over large puddles in the road, and was a real lifesaver on the 300 when tested in Canadian snow. An AWD option is also available, but will assuredly decrease FE further.

On the inside, leather seats, a large wheel, and good placement of gauges and most controls made this an enjoyable car to drive -- that is, with the exception of the cruise control lever. Mounted behind the turn signal, the stalk was simply not easy to access, is not conventional in its operation, and got in the way most of the time. It really seemed to perhaps be a better fit on the wheel spokes, with the other controls, like the radio and trip functions. Speaking of the radio, most Chrysler-branded vehicles come standard with a decent audio system with auxilliary/iPod input.

Opinion on the outside, well, that's up to who you ask. The Dodge Ram-like front end and sharply sloping rear makes it uniquely different, but IMO, rather funny looking. The 17-inch wheels look nice and help handling, but adds weight. The tiny rear window with miniature wiper looks like blind-spot central, but wasn't a big deal.

The cargo capacity and interior appointments will take your mind off of the looks. Of course there are better options out there with respect to FE: this is technically classified as an SUV by the EPA. Anyone can tell you it's a "wagon", though -- but if you're weaning off of an SUV, then the added power and RWD might be a good fit. Better options in this size would include a traditional car-based wagon like the Volvo V70 or Subaru Legacy Wagon. A smaller, more efficient vehicle is recommended as most of the car seemed to be more "big iron", performance, and luxury.

Coming up... Special FE Honors for a GM vehicle? ...plus the '07 Hyundai Sonata V-6. And many more!
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