- Wagon practicality
- SUV capabilities, sedan handling
- Improved instrument panel design
- V-8 engine rumble and power
- Muscle-car attitude
- HEMI is thirsty
- Stiff ride
- Anti-lock brakes and side airbags optional
- Interior materials not as nice as in Chrysler 300
The 2008 Dodge Magnum still is a much better alternative than the SUVs and crossovers most people choose over it.
TheCarConnection.com's editors yelled "Wagon hoooooo," and tested the 2008 Dodge Magnum station wagon, including the car's V-6- and V-8-powered models. To these evaluations, TheCarConnection.com's editors have integrated the opinions and findings published by the latest reviews on the new 2008 Dodge Magnum. All of this research has gone into this comprehensive review.
You've heard the saying about saving the best for last? Well, Chrysler has done that with the 2008 Dodge Magnum station wagon. After improving the car for 2008, the decision was made to axe the model from the 2009 roster due to budget cuts--too bad more people didn't discover how good this car was, especially in comparison to oversized and underutilized SUVs that so many drivers are living with today.
The Magnum, a true Motor City hauler, was introduced in 2005 alongside the Chrysler 300 and benefited hugely from the then-current ownership of Chrysler by Mercedes-Benz. Like the 300, the Magnum rides on a Mercedes-Benz-designed suspension, and its chassis remains one of this car's strongest assets.
As noted, Dodge's 2008 Magnum wagon shares its architecture with the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger sedans, but its tapered roofline and chopped stance give it a unique silhouette. The wagon's exterior has been updated for 2008, and changes include a new crosshair grille, more chrome, and new fog lamp details, along with a more angular hood. TheCarConnection.com team has (mostly) liked the look of the Magnum, and these changes have refined its appearance.
Under that long, low hood, 2008 Dodge Magnum models have a 2.7-liter V-6 rated at 190 horsepower; next up is a 3.5-liter V-6 and 250 horsepower, available in the mid-level SXT, with or without all-wheel drive. Both V-6 engines come with four-speed automatic transmissions. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are optional on the base SE, but are standard on all other models. A group option including front/side airbags and two-row side curtain airbags is availale. Referencing safety, the Magnum crashes pretty well according to government test data.
The all-wheel-drive system adds weight, and in the opinion of testers from TheCarConnection.com, the V-6 isn't quite powerful enough to keep the Magnum hustling with that option. In the standard rear-drive setup, the V-6 is perfectly adequate. To step up to the V-8, you need to move to the 2008 Dodge Magnum R/T models, which are powered by a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that offers 340 horsepower and comes with a five-speed automatic and cylinder deactivation technology to improve fuel efficiency. All-wheel drive is available with the V-8 and also gets you 19-inch wheels standard. With the HEMI, the extra weight of the all-wheel drive is inconsequential.
If you're lusting after a serious Boss Wagon that will trounce all manner of performance cars, Dodge offers an SRT8 version of the Magnum. It sports a 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 and 425 horsepower. It comes with 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, huge track-tested brakes, and other substantial performance upgrades. A backseat DVD entertainment system with Kicker Mobile Surround Sound is available in SRT8 models.
Regardless of which 2008 Dodge Magnum you choose, inside, the instrument panel has been redesigned with a new set of gauges, a center console, and new door trim panels. The changes are welcome improvements, as the Dodge's interior isn't its strongest asset. Editors from TheCarConnection.com have often griped about the short-thrifting Dodge interiors seem to get compared to their Chrysler counterparts (the Chrysler 300's interior is quite nice when compared to the Magnum's). The cup holders now have nifty LED lighting, so you can see where to put your drink when it's dark out (very important, eh?), and the seats wear new cloth for '08. Also, the poorly located cruise control stalk has been repositioned to the 4 o'clock place behind the steering wheel.
Options include a filter for cabin air; heated front seats; a power passenger seat; dual-zone automatic climate control; express-up and -down power front windows; and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. For Dodge, 2008 also made an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capability standard; audio systems can include the MyGIG hard-drive entertainment package and Sirius Backseat TV.
The new Chevrolet Traverse is another crossover. The Traverse is significantly larger than the 2008 Dodge Magnum and can seat up to eight comfortably. However, the Chevy's heavy curb weight and the crossover's 3.6-liter V-6 can't deliver nearly the performance of the Magnum.
Another alternative is the new Subaru Legacy Wagon. The Legacy is dwarfed by the Dodge Magnum, and accordingly offers much better mileage from its four- and six-cylinder engines. The Legacy features all-wheel drive as standard equipment.