View Full Version : Magnum Force-d on Me!

12-14-2004, 05:00 PM
Well seeing as weíre evaluating new vehicles Iíd like to throw one out there.

The New Dodge Magnum Wagon.

Granted not in the same class as the GT40 or the new Vete. But like it or love it - it is a label buster and is reinventing the common notion of the ďfamilyĒ station wagon.

OK we're all car guys so I'm sure we've all read & heard all the hype on the New Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum. With the new rear drive platform and the debatable good looks. Yata yata, blaw, blaw, blaw.

But having owned one of the vehicles that was replaced by these - my trusty old 2000 Intrepid - I must say that I hadnít seen anything that remotely peaks my interests in either of the new vehicles. This has sadly been kind of a disappointment to me as when the Intrepid saw itís restyling in 98, I actually liked it. Truth be told, I really had high hopes and I would have loved to see another makeover version of the Intrepid with rear wheel drive than the current offerings from Chrysler & Dodge.

I bring all of this up because I was surprised to get a Dodge Magnum as my weekly rental car (opps? Er? Wagon). While it doesnít have a Hemi and is sporting the same 2.7L V6 that my old FWD Intrepid had under the hood (not a bad motor BTW) Ė it is surprisingly quite a civilized driver with a lot of room for all my tools & test equipment in the back. Moreover once you get past the look of the Darth-Vader interior you find that there is plenty of room for 5 full size adults. This rental came with a nice sound system, black ash-like cloth seats with a 60/40 split rear and plenty of side bolstering in the power 6 way front seats. Of a particularly positive note to me: besides the normal up & down adjustments - I really like the telescoping steering wheel that can compliment just about any driver or seating position.

Yes I know Iím kind of back peddling from my original position by giving such a nice evaluation of a vehicle that I actually despised when I first laid eyes on it and would have kept that cynical point of view, had it not been for the rental car company. Do I like it? Well, I know that some have said the Magnum harkens back to the days of the old hotrod wagons (ala Nomad etc.), but I was never really a fan of those vehicles. So to me itís still just a station wagon that just happens to be on steroids and it just ainít my cupía joe.

The real question I guess should be; Do I see a use for it? The answer is - yes. The roominess & utilitarianism of a small SUV and the road manners of a respectable midsized sedan - makes for a pretty nice combination. Throw a Hemi in the mix and all bets are off.

While I have seen the light - I still ain't going to be spending any of my money to park one in my garage.


12-14-2004, 05:11 PM
Interesting take on that. My wife had a 300M on a lease which she loved, and was disappointed at the styling of the new 300C.....too masculine, she said. She looked at the Magnum at the same time, with the same verdict, although she liked the roominess. She likes SUVs for the same reasons. Whereas with the previous "cab-forward" designs Chrysler were starting to appeal to women, this seems to be a retrograde step. The Crossfire made her feel claustrophobic and she complained of poor three-quarter visibility, and the Pacifica looks too much like a mini van. So she has done.....nothing. Driving my Passat until the lease runs out, and keeping her options open. Any auto industry execs reading this?

12-14-2004, 09:23 PM
I think the Magnum Hemi is an awesome car..same can be said for the Chrysler 300C....

My wife didn't care for either and then after awhile she said she really did like it..

Give your wife some time with her seeing the 300C and the Magnum RT on the road....

I bet she changes her mind...by the time the lease is up.

I found this www.swapalease.com (https://www.swapalease.com) site the other day..

Just plug in what your looking for and you might be pleasantly surprised. Short term? Longer term? Need more miles? Need less than the usual miles? Jaguar X types? S types? Lexus? Infiniti's? Acuras?

Subsidized lease deals too..

I mention this b/c if your wifes not in love with any of the new cars out today? Then maybe a shorter term/less expensive Jaguar? Just make sure you get a car still under warranty and double check that the car was never hit...(carfax)

Worth a look...although I do like the Magnum RT too!

12-14-2004, 11:28 PM
A view from across the Pacific - I can't think of an American car I've liked since the late sixties/early seventies - at least until the new Chrysler 300 came along. If I were in the market for a car of that size it would be on my shortlist.

For the last 30 years American cars haven't really appealed to non-Americans. I suspect that under Daimler they're trying to build cars that have international appeal. If so they've hit the target with this potential buyer!

12-15-2004, 02:58 AM
My largest gripe: using "Hemi" as a marketing gimmick. No, none of the cars/SUVs with the "Hemi" option actually have an engine with hemispherical combustion chambers! (Which is what a hemi is!!!)

Anyway, I am glad to see that Chrysler is putting out interesting cars and wagons. But you see, everyone, Chrysler has -always- been great at being a leader in style and releasing vehicles that establish new benchmarks for size, design etc...

The problems plaguing ChryslerCorp (now DCX) over the years have been in the details: sloppy and numb steering, mushy brakes, cheap dash plastics (that are glaring against great quality leather seats!)

And most of all: crappy reliability -- most notibly in transmissions. But they've also made a habit of never fixing a known problem if it won't kill anyone.

I can actually speak from experience. Between 1982 and 2000, my family owned a 1977 Chrysler Lebaron, 1982 and 1987 Chrysler New Yorkers, 1986 Dodge 600ES Convertible (still have it,) 1991 Chrysler Lebaron convertible and 1993 Chrysler Lebaron Convertible. Plus, my roomate from 1994-1997 had a '94 Lebaron Convertible.

What's the tally? 4 transmission failures - one on every convertible. At least 8 rear quarter window motors, as well. Both of these were due to cutting cost corners and not attempting to solve design flaws known from day one.

Whenever Chrysler comes out with a new car, I always love the style. I'm not a hot-rod wagon guy(...I actually like wagons over minivans and suvs, but I'd be more inclined to buy a big sedan any day of the week, because most wagons are too small.) The Magnum is a good looking vehicle, and the 300 is interesting (I liked the 300M look better though.) But every time one of these comes out, it's the same thing. I get up close to the car, drive it, and see that Chryslers still accelerate well, still have crappy numb braking and steering, still miss that last 10% which makes the difference between a good car and a great car.

But they're able to sell their cars on style, so why change?

12-15-2004, 05:51 PM
<<SNIP>> And most of all: crappy reliability -- most notibly in transmissions. But they've also made a habit of never fixing a known problem if it won't kill anyone.

I can actually speak from experience. Between 1982 and 2000, my family owned a 1977 Chrysler Lebaron, 1982 and 1987 Chrysler New Yorkers, 1986 Dodge 600ES Convertible (still have it,) 1991 Chrysler Lebaron convertible and 1993 Chrysler Lebaron Convertible. Plus, my roomate from 1994-1997 had a '94 Lebaron Convertible.

What's the tally? 4 transmission failures - one on every convertible. At least 8 rear quarter window motors, as well. Both of these were due to cutting cost corners and not attempting to solve design flaws known from day one.


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I know weíve gone round & round on the Chrysler transmission issue before so I hope that while I might disagree with you - you don't take it personally?

That said - I just noticed that all the vehicles youíve reported transmissions failures on where not only convertibles but where in-fact variants of the FWD Chrysler K-Car platform with its front drive trans mounted engines. Coincidence?

While I have drove just about every vehicle type produced by Chrysler, I have never owned one of their convertibles. Perhaps that is the difference between you're bad luck and my good luck with their products.

Just like you, I have owned many Chrysler products over the years. Besides my 1967 Barracuda I have owned 5 Minivans covering just about every major design change dating back to the early eightyís and all the way up to the mid-late 90ís. One mini-van was actually one of their earliest attempts at an all-wheel drive system that would (according to the ownerís manual) transfer power to the rear wheels (up to 75% I think) when & if the front wheels started to slip. Living in the Denver Area (snow) at the time, the AWD option seemed like a good thing to have. But alas, as inventive as that drive system sounded for the time - I never actually had a chance to play with it enough to see if it made that much of a difference in heavy snow. But you'd think if I was to have any problems with Chrysler transmissions - that that would have been the vehicle they'd show up in.

I have also owned an 85 Dodge Aries, an 84 Daytona Turbo (My cool momís actually), an 82 Rampage PU as well as an 1997 & 2000 Intrepid. All of those vehicles and I can honestly say that have never had one transmission or major issue with any of them. Notable to me is that all but the AWD Minivan mentioned above & Barracuda were strictly front wheel drive vehicles like most of yours you had trans problems with. Fact is the closest to any kind of drive train issue with any of my Chrysler vehicles, came when I dropped my drive shaft on my Cuda in the early eightyís two blocks from home at the end of a 3500 mile road trip. It seems that even when I have bad luck with my vehicles Iím still lucky. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Anyway currently I donít own any Chrysler products as I sold the Intrepid last summer so I am hardly a spokeshole (spelled correctly BTW) for Chrysler & Dodge. But I must say that while I donít like looks of the New Magnum or the 300C - I was impressed with the packaging and versatility.

12-15-2004, 10:45 PM
Bret --
Yes, the transmission issues have all been with the trans-mounted engines and auto trannies. Their 5 speeds, while notchy-feeling, are actually really robust.

Interestingly enough, I actually took the opportunity to go test drive a 300 today -- and the whole experience was a disaster!!!

Tragically, they didn't have a Hemi 300C, so I was in a base model. I was very unimpressed, and actually a little sad -- because I really expected more (even from the base model.)

I had a very nice kid as a sales guy. Didn't know much, but asked me a bunch of questions regarding car safety etc (he figured out I wrote car stories for the local paper here.)

The car is very large in exterior, but in interior space, with the seat pushed back so I can fit, there's hardly enough room for your average teen, much less an adult. Chalk it up to poorly designed seats which are overly thick.

Steering is extremely numb, and brakes are wildly mushy. I hope to go back to test a 300C, and I hope better tires will help a little, but it's like what I remember of the 300M.

The whole car felt like a rental. Cloth seats, an anemic 190hp engine in a car that feels like it weighs 4500pounds. Again, the Hemi would certainly help straight-line performance and the leather upgrade would make it look nice, but I doubt it will add feel to the steering or brakes.

Most importantly, three salesmen at the dealer started telling me I didn't know what I was talking about when I said "I was hoping for more feel." They said "you're the only person who has ever said that." This wasn't my salesguy... it was the other fat sales guys who were sitting without customers in the showroom. Then they started talking about how I obviously wasn't familiar with Chryslers (and one guy listed all the Chargers and 'Cudas he had owned,)

...and then one salesguy started challenging me to a drag race with my Corvette parked outside in the Chrysler SRT6.

"Your car can only run 14-and-a-half...and the SRT6 is so fast it's dangerous."

I just stood there stunned as these guys rambled.

"Go get your pink slip -- we'll race."

I quietly and politely said "my performance meter shows the last 1/4 time in that car was 13.15."

And the guy who challenged me said "yeah right." (aside: honestly, that really was my last time!)

Then the other guy said "well, I'll just get my Shelby"

I didn't even respond, I was trying to work my way to the door.

"C'mon it's just a Shadow...a little 2.2 liter engine."

Finally, I turned around and said "look, my family has owned six Chrysler cars, and I have a '86 Dodge 600ES Turbo -- yes, a 2.2 liter TurboI being worked on as we speak. I have pictures of 2.2 minivans beating 427 Corvettes and Tripower GTOs in quarter mile drags, I'm very aware of the potential for mini Mopars."

At that point I walked out. My sales guy followed. I just looked at him and said "unreal."

He asked me a bunch more about my Corvette, and I basically just mentioned that it showed how insecure the guys were, and how little they knew about challenging people to races.

"Never assume someones car is stock" I said with a smile. He laughed.

Just for kicks -- the best numbers I can find of a road test of a SRT6 Crossfire: 0-60MPH in 5.1 seconds and 1/4 in 13.5. Professional drivers at the wheel, of course.

My best in my C5: 4.66 and 13.1

Should have taken him up on his offer (yeah like he had the authority to bet a car on the lot !!!)

12-17-2004, 04:39 PM
Ok itís been a week now and I just returned the Magnum at the local rental car office.

So here is my final assessment of the New Dodge Magnum:

On the negative side:
My main gripe? Two words - weak performance! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/pukeface.gif
Over all I must say that I am totally disappointed in the lackluster performance. When pushed to the limit the little 2.7L V6 is slow off the line but to it's credit - revs fast above 3 grand all the way up to redline (~6500RPM). The tinny whine is a bit annoying acerbated by the fact that you ainít really pulling away with any authority. I discovered that I could get the wagon up to speed just as fast romping on the gas, by gradually depressing on the accelerator. As hard as I tried, I just couldnít get the rear-end to come unglued or break loose to save my life. Whatís the fun in that? Granted it didnít have a Hemi - but whatís the point of having a vehicle (marketed for itís performance?) with front engine rear drive layout if you cant have just a little fun. What a yawner.

I donít know if the Magnum is heaver than the Intrepid it replaced. but I swear my old 2000 Intrepid with the exact same 2.7L motor had more pep than the new Magnum.

On the positive side:
While I did have a hard time adjusting to the looks of the Magnum - after all it is still just a station wagon. But other than that & the feeble performance mentioned above - it honestly did everything else right as a package. All my tools & equipment fit in the rear and I still had complete use of the rear seating for my overnight bag and computer case. I really like the huge rear hatch for easy access to the cargo area. Of particular note was that I was able to get at ďallĒ of my stuff without unloading anything. Thatís a feature I really like & until now have only been able to find that kind of access on minivans & SUVs.

The rental had a great sound system, but a satellite radio would have made it even better Ė especially on those long drives where reception is iffy at best. The gauges where kind of an off white (black on white) and the entire dash was lit using a pale blue back lighting that I really liked.

Ride quality was ok. But the surprise was I didnít have a sore back after hours of driving like I normally get because of the lawn chair seats so commonly found in rental vehicles. But I was actually surprised how comfortable the ride was even though the seat didnít have a lumbar support. Go figure?

My conclusion:
While the vehicle was a nice chage of pace from the normal rental sedan, minivan or SUV I normally get - it just isnít for the vehicle for me. Oh sure - I think it does itís job quite, well in that it can handle up to five adults and has a reasonable cargo area. But I think four adults would be the limit for those long road trips of 2 hours or more. Not to detract form those looking for such a vehicle, but I personally wouldnít touch one on a bet Ė unless it had one of the bigger engine options either the 3.5L V6 or the highly touted HEMI V8. Donít go with the 2.7L unless youíre on a budget or are really concerned gas mileage Ė otherwise youíll be disappointed.

And finally love it or hate it I have to say that the Magnum has a powerful presence. Of all the rental cars Iíve ever driven Ė nary a one has gotten me more looks, compliments and thumbs ups everywhere I went than this vehicle has. The whole week Ė heads would turn & point with mouths open. Many people stopping to look and even ask the famous question ďThat thing got a HEMIĒ. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

The best was while I was stuck in a construction zone and the guy directing traffic yelled out ďCool Car Mister!Ē

12-17-2004, 05:17 PM
I agree with Bret that if there's one company out there that cannot be beat for designing cars with "presence" it's Chrysler/Dodge. I think the other manufacturers can learn a lot from them.

Yes, that 190HP 2.7 is just way overmatched in the Magnum and 300. It would be nice to try both in the 5.7 V8 (which I still hate calling the Hemi, since it doesn't have hemispherical combustion chambers!)

Thanks for the great driving impression, Bret! You should moonlight as a car reviewer!

12-17-2004, 08:08 PM
Thanks for the kind words Sammy. But I only felt compelled to comment on the Magnum because it was sooooo different than anything Iíve ever driven off of a rental car lot.

As for Moonlighting as a auto reviewer Ė Thanks but I think Iíll stick with my day job. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif


12-18-2004, 07:05 AM
No surprise the rental car was weak on performance as its sold for the "value"

The Hemi Magnum is a cool ride..

2.7 and even the 3.5 is for posers and rental car fleet..

Buyers who want all the car can deliver get the Hemi V8...

Any other engine is just transportation.

Thanks for the review.

12-21-2004, 06:09 AM
Hi everyone, this is my first post. I will shortly post a formal introduction in the triumph area but I couldn't help offering my .02 on this topic as I am a big fan of Chrysler and the 300/Magnum in particular.

I've climbed all over the 300 in car lots over the last few months and have, for the most part, came away impressed. I have a few nit picky gripes, mostly aesthetic and quality issues. For instance, even on the top of the line 300C, the center arm rest is covered with the cheapest rubber like plastic I think I have ever seen and felt. They should have used a high quality imitation leather product, like alcanterra maybe? Anyway, I've also driven both the Hemi Magnum and the 3.5L version. Question, sammyb, why do you keep saying that the new hemi is "not a hemi"? Everything I've ever read (and seen) has said that the 5.7 liter hemi does indeed have hemispherical chambers. Most of the tech literature I've read has said that the hemi heads on this motor are the most efficient that Mopar has ever produced. In fact, I haven't read anything that has lead me to believe that the heads on this motor are anything but hemi's. The short block components might be interchangeable with other engines, but it's the heads themselves that make a hemi. If' you have data that says otherwise I'd certainly like to see it.

Anyway, onto the Magnum, I was very impressed with the hemi version. I've driven some very high horsepower cars (and owned a few over the years), Vipers, Supra twin turbos, Mustangs, etc., and although the Magnum is not a stoplight demon, I was impressed with it's abilities. More important than the horsepower figures are the torque numbers, as any high school aged gearhead can tell you, on the street torque is king. To quote Carroll Shelby, ďhorsepower sells cars, torque wins racesĒ. Also, I thought the car handled decently for it's size and weight, and the brakes were some of the best that I've ever felt on an American car outside of maybe a Vette. I believe the brakes are sourced from Daimler for this car. A few people here have said that they thought the brakes mushy, I didn't get any of that, strange. As a comparison, I drove the 3.5L version. I was impressed there again, it actually has decent power, more than adequate for the average Joe's day to day needs. Obviously it doesn't have the rush that the hemi can produce, but if you're on a budget and absolutely have to have a Magnum or 300 then the 3.5L isn't a bad choice. I have heard from friends though that the base motor is not up to the task, so I guess that confirms what others have said. My complaints would center around the other areas of the drive train. I didnít like the transmissions calibrations at all, it always felt like I was in the wrong gear and not able to take advantage of the motors torque, and the autostick function is all but useless. The most glaring error made with this car on DCís part though is the lack of an available manual trans option, and Iíve heard stories that Dodge was pressured into only offering an auto by the Daimler side management. I donít know if there is any truth to this, it may be just a rumor. However, considering that the target demographic for the R/T version of this car would be car enthusiasts that need something with more practicality than their Mustang GT or Corvette, I find it incredible that they havenít given it a stick. Also, the 2.82 rear end ratio isnít helping matters in the performance area, the only reason the car can overcome that is the 390 foot pounds itís throwing down. Rumor has it that a special edition is forthcoming that will have a better rear ratio, a significant power bump, and a 6 speed manual.

Personally Iím a big fan of the in your face styling. I know itís love it or hate it, I happen to love it. Of the big three, Chrysler has always been willing to take the largest risks on controversially styled cars. They started with the Viper nearly 15 years ago and have continued to build on sales successes like the PT cruiser. They have not always hit the mark, the Prowler was a fantastic looking car but a dismal failure for obvious reasons. Looking at the 300/Magnum, I expected nothing less from DC. I was considering buying the Magnum until two things happened. 1, I realized that I did not want to spend the 33K to get the hemi, and the thought of not having the hemi would be to much to bear, and 2, my wife gave me the go ahead to get a new 05 Mustang GT, so that settled it. If I had a few grand more to play with, and the wife insisted on a more family oriented car (I have two small kids), then Iíd probably be getting the R/T Magnum.

Thanks for reading this, my apologies for the incredibly long post.

MGA Steve
12-21-2004, 09:53 AM
Hi everyone, this is my first post. . . I was considering buying the Magnum until two things happened. 1, I realized that I did not want to spend the 33K to get the hemi, and the thought of not having the hemi would be to much to bear, and 2, my wife gave me the go ahead to get a new 05 Mustang GT, so that settled it.

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Ahhhh, a man after my own heart, Sammy! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Welcome to the forum! There are a few (very few) other Mustang/LBC fans on here as well. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif

12-21-2004, 10:44 AM
No surprise the rental car was weak on performance as its sold for the "value"

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I couldnít agree more about ďmostĒ Rental cars being pigs performance-wise. But I have run across several that where a bit of a surprise. Now before we get carried away I am only talking about your average larger rental car companies Ė not the high dollar outfits like Rent-A-Vette or some other exclusive rental company that only rents premium rides.

Topping my list of hotrod rentals:
1) The fastest would have to be the new Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. Donít know the exact numbers but I believe it is well over 230hp. Anyway IMHO that is way too much power for the average renter and a sure fire way to getting your rental privileges revoked if you ainít careful.
2) The next would have to be the Pontiac Grant AM. I rented one back in the mid 90ís and besides being a bit on the small side it had a really rough, harsh & jittery ride quality that had me checking my fillings each time I hit a speed bump a little too fast. The only real plus was that it had a lot of power for itís size.
3) Would have to be the Nissan Maxima I rented about 6 months ago. Really nice and responsive. Certainly not your everyday renter.

There are many more - but none are really worth mentioning.

Oh & before anybody asks - I didnít mention the Mustangs so commonly found on rental car lots for a reason. That being - that while they are indeed fun cars for weekend getaways and easy on the eye - the ones loaned out by the rental car companies, are at best meager shadows of their V8 powered brethren.

12-21-2004, 11:26 AM
Welcome to the forum! There are a few (very few) other Mustang/LBC fans on here as well.

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Thanks!! If you check out my greetings note in the Triumph section, you'll see I've been a Mustang fanatic since I've been old enough to hold a set of keys. To date, a 67 fastback GTA, a 76 Cobra II, and a 71 Mach 1. The 05 GT is my new infatuation, planning on getting it this summer, but I love these little British cars!

12-21-2004, 12:47 PM

Dotanukie is correct, the new 5.7L Hemi indeed has hemispherical combustion chambers. I had to go back to my data sheets. The confusion must have come about with some of the insider info I got prior to its release indicated that there was speculation the car Hemi (5.7) would be a multi-valve setup, which would have required a different chamber.

As I've said many times to family and friends: "I reserve the right to be wrong."

So welcome to the Forum Dotanukie! Another Triumph guy is always a plus!

12-21-2004, 01:40 PM
Thanks for the welcome! Sammy, I love what you've done with your garage. More specifically, whats in your garage, especially that 69 Vette (a ragtop no less, groans of desire). What motor does it have? I wish I had that many toys, gotta convince the wife to get that second job!

I like seeing people that mix vintage American muscle and European/British refinement in their interests. There's just to much good stuff out there to limit yourself to one or the other. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif

12-22-2004, 09:01 AM
The '69 Corvette originally was a L71 427CI/427hp solid-lifter engine w/ tripower (3 2-barrel carbs.) Now it is a 454ci (bored-out to who knows what) with a single Holley double-pumper. It puts out something north of 450hp. I've had readings as high as 498. --

There actually are a lot of us Corvette/little British car guys around here. Even our great moderator Basil!