It seems almost inevitable that every year brings one new car that captures the public’s imagination and becomes an instant icon — an emblem of a particular vehicular moment in history. Let’s see, there was the reborn MINI, the HUMMER H2, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, the New Beetle… keep working backwards and the long list includes the first Mazda Miata, the AMC Pacer, the first Datsun 240Z, the ’65 Mustang, ’55 Thunderbird, ’49 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, ’32 Ford V-8, ’09 Model T, and eventually the 1885 Benz three-wheeler. For those who haven’t been paying attention (not even to the title of this story and the photos that accompany it), this year’s iconic car has been the Chrysler 300 sedan and, our subject, its Dodge-branded near-twin the Magnum don’t-call-it-a-wagon wagon.
The thing is that icon status doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a car is any good or that in the long run history will remember it fondly. But it can’t hurt.
Hugging and kissing
2005 Dodge MagnumEnlarge Photo
What’s best about the Magnum is the conglomeration of Mercedes and Chrysler pieces that make up its substance. Just the fact that it’s a domestic-badged machine with rear-wheel drive makes it worthy of celebration, but the all-independent suspension, much of which is derived from the Mercedes E-Class, makes this the most sophisticated chassis ever put under a mass-production American-brand station wagon ever. And best of all, it behaves like it too.