In addition to two V-6 engines, a Hemi V-8 that cranks out 340 horsepower can power the Magnum. To boost fuel economy, an innovative Multi-Displacement System in the Hemi shuts down half of the engine's cylinders during light engine load conditions.
To counteract concerns that the Magnum won't handle adequately on snow and ice, Dodge includes a standard Electronic Stability Program and standard traction control in SXT and R/T models.
A backseat DVD entertainment system with a flip-up screen is optional in 2006 models. Chrysler dealers sell the closely related 300 sedan, which is offered with the same engine choices.
Significantly sportier in shape than most wagons, the Magnum features distinct tapered rear-quarter windows. Big fender flares surround 17- or 18-inch wheels, depending on the trim level. Simple bodyside moldings are installed, and the front fascia features Dodge's characteristic crosshair grille. Rather than a traditional near-vertical liftgate, the Magnum's reaches well forward into the roof, which allows the liftgate to rise nearly straight up.
Five occupants can fit inside the Magnum, which has a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Cargo volume totals 27.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 71.6 cubic feet with the seat folded. A tri-fold false floor allows extra storage.
A standard 2.7-liter V-6 in the base model produces 190 hp, and a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is optional. Dodge's 340-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 powers the R/T, which uses a five-speed-automatic transmission with AutoStick for manually selected gear changes. V-6 models can be equipped with a four-speed automatic.
Antilock brakes, traction control and an Electronic Stability Program are standard on the R/T and SXT. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
Performance and handling in the Hemi-powered R/T are essentially the same as in the related Chrysler 300C. The suspension feels tauter, but not by much. Both cars ride comfortably on smooth surfaces. Each has a solid feel and confident handling. Tromping the Magnum's gas pedal from a standstill can shove occupants back into their seats, though highway-speed acceleration is less ferocious.
The 3.5-liter V-6 performs with satisfying vigor, if a trifle slow at start-off, but it's a little noisier. Engine noise with the 2.7-liter V-6 is more noticeable but not bothersome, and performance doesn't fall far short of the bigger V-6. The SXT model clings to the pavement quite well.
Models with the Electronic Stability Program behave with surprising confidence on wintry surfaces. However, you sometimes get the feeling that the system has taken over a little too much.
Backseat legroom and headroom are plentiful, but the center rider faces a large driveline tunnel. Long, slim quarter windows impair over-the-shoulder views. Even though the innovative liftgate seems handy, shorter people might have trouble closing it. Heavy rain or snow could blow in sideways.