- 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.
2008 Dodge Magnum
The 2008 Dodge Magnum's interior disappoints, but the boldly retro shape is still appealing.
The 2008 Dodge Magnum has styling that will appeal to those longing for the good old days of big family station wagons--but the interior leaves something to be desired. This is the general consensus among reviews studied by TheCarConnection.com team when it comes to what Kelley Blue Book describes as "a station wagon on steroids with an edgy retro style"--the Dodge Magnum 2008.
Automobile reports that "for its third birthday, the  Dodge Magnum gets a bit of cosmetic surgery, chiefly around the headlights, seeking to correct what Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed described as the Magnum's 'wide-eyed look.'" Edmunds adds that the "face-lifted 2008 Dodge Magnum continues to avoid the stodgy wagon mold, thanks to its specialized blend of sporty good looks." Cars.com praises the Magnum 2008 design: "Its bold styling commands the road...in a market crowded with conformity, [Dodge Magnum 2008 is] a welcome nonconformist."
The Dodge Magnum 2008's interior receives some mixed reactions, however. Motor Trend says "inside, the Magnum  gets agate-color accent stitching, carbon-fiber leather-trim door handles, an improved grip-enhancing carbon-fiber leather-trim steering wheel," while Kelley Blue Book reports that "easy-to-read controls and silver-accented gauges give the interior a nice combination of sporty style and functionality." Nonetheless, ForbesAutos calls it a "cheap-looking interior."
2008 Dodge Magnum
The 2008 Dodge Magnum performs the act of transportation in six-cylinder versions; the HEMI-powered models smoke (tires) and drink (fuel)--and are far more fun.
Most reviews examined by TheCarConnection.com appreciate the 2008 Dodge Magnum’s power and poise—at least in HEMI-powered R/T and SRT8 versions.
ConsumerGuide reports that the 2008 Dodge Magnum SE "with the 2.7-liter V6 feels tepid and requires lots of passing room; Dodge says 11.3 seconds 0-60 mph. The 3.5 V6 is okay in town and has good passing punch." Edmunds says "the Magnum 2008's base V6 engine provides adequate power and a pleasant enough driving experience, but acceleration can be a bit sluggish off the line or under load." In the standard rear-drive setup, the V-6 is perfectly adequate. 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. Edmunds suggests "if you can't live with that...upgrade to either the more powerful V6 in the SXT or the V8 in the R/T."
The R/T models 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, and with the HEMI, the extra weight of the all-wheel drive is inconsequential.
The 2008 Dodge Magnum R/T, which Kelley Blue Book describes as "a throttle junkie's dream," has as much power as you'd expect, but better handling than anticipated. "The R/T's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 delivered commanding power, though you wouldn't think it while tooling around town...the accelerator takes its time to move things forward," writes Cars.com.
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.
Edmunds reports that the base Dodge Magnum 2008 "puts its power through an old-school four-speed automatic transmission, but all others are equipped with a modern five-speed automatic." Cars.com notes that the Dodge Magnum 2008 five-speed automatic "has AutoStick for manually selected gear changes [and] is standard on the all-wheel-drive SXT and both versions of the R/T."
ForbesAutos mentions that "the Magnum R/T engine includes the company's Multi-Displacement System, which deactivates half the cylinders under low to moderate throttle to save fuel." Cars.com reports the following fuel consumption figures from the EPA: 2.7-liter V-6, 21/28 mpg; 3.5-liter V-6, 19/27 mpg; 5.7-liter V-8, 17/25 mpg; and 6.1-liter V-8, 14/20 mpg.
ConsumerGuide observes 2008 Dodge Magnum’s "ride is generally smooth and composed, but rippled pavement triggers annoying jiggling, especially in V8 models with their firmer suspensions." Edmunds asserts that "handling is surprisingly composed on higher trim levels, and the hot-rod SRT8 is a downright blast to drive, with tons of torque, a sport-tuned suspension and bigger brakes that allow you to maneuver quickly through tight corners." Kelley Blue Book notes "all-wheel drive models have a higher ride height that doesn't appear to affect handling but creates a noticeable gap between the tires and the tops of the wheel arches." Cars.com reports that the Dodge Magnum 2008 brake pedal "felt a bit mushy, but it produced adequate stopping power," adding that "the suspension and braking improvements are worth the upgrade."
2008 Dodge Magnum
Comfort & Quality
The 2008 Dodge Magnum has ample wagon room and comfortable seats, but below-average materials.
Occupants will not feel cramped aboard the 2008 Dodge Magnum, though interior materials are not as good as experts at TheCarConnection.com would like.
ForbesAutos describes the Dodge Magnum 2008 cabin as a "roomy and comfortable interior." According to Cars.com, "drivers of any size should fit well in the Magnum, as a tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard, and many trim levels have power-adjustable seats and pedals." ConsumerGuide says the Dodge Magnum 2008 has "ample headroom and legroom, though AWD versions have a slightly narrower passenger footwell." This source adds the Magnum’s seats are "generously sized," but notes that but "flat cushions allow occupants to slide during aggressive cornering."
Storage and cargo space are fairly generous, but less than what you might find in other wagons, according to Cars.com: "behind the backseat is 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space, less than what most comparably priced wagons offer...the sloping rear window means full-size suitcases can't stand upright unless you drop the backseat." However, "fold the seats, and there's a respectable 71.6 cubic feet of cargo room." Edmunds notes "the rear liftgate swings up rather than out for easy access, and the Magnum  offers an optional cargo organizer as well."
The 2008 Dodge Magnum falls short of expected quality of materials and assembly. Cars.com says that when "faced with classier cabins from GM, Toyota and even Hyundai, the Magnum's interior is drifting downstream. The center controls feel plasticky, and the window switches have discernable gaps where they meet the armrests." Car and Driver adds that the Dodge Magnum 2008 "interior features some minor upgrades, but honestly, after a quick glance inside, the 'upgrades' don't do much to bring it anywhere near the Honda/Toyota benchmark for material and build quality."
ConsumerGuide reports "noticeable roar from V6s during acceleration. V8s make throaty full-throttle growl--SRT8s sound like race cars--but are quiet enough in gentle cruising," adding that the wagon "suffers more road ruckus than 300 or Charger, mostly because of its open cargo area vs. a closed-off trunk."
2008 Dodge Magnum
The 2008 Dodge Magnum performs well in crash tests, but not all versions get the latest safety gear.
The 2008 Dodge Magnum achieves good crash-test rankings, but some safety features are optional and its styling cuts down on visibility.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards the 2008 Dodge Magnum five out of five stars in protection during front-impact crashes and a respectable four stars for side impact protection and rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the Magnum.
Cars.com reports that "all trim levels include the mandatory front airbags, but side curtain airbags are optional.” However, "parents with small children will appreciate the [Magnum 2008] Latch child-seat anchors, which are installed in all three backseat positions."
Edmunds says "four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all Dodge Magnum 2008 models, and antilock brakes, traction control, stability control," while "power-adjustable pedals are optional on the base Dodge Magnum 2008 SE and standard on all other Magnums."
It is unusual to see many comments on visibility, but the 2008 Dodge Magnum has traded some outward sight for sleek looks. Kelley Blue Book complains "narrow windows and a big rear blind spot are also bothersome characteristics." ForbesAutos also notes "narrow windows impair outward visibility." Cars.com says that in addition to compromising luggage space, the low Dodge Magnum 2008 roofline causes visibility problems.
2008 Dodge Magnum
The 2008 Dodge Magnum has a broad range of features that make base cars more usable and turn V-8 versions into street rods.
The 2008 Dodge Magnum has plenty of choices when it comes to equipment, trims, and options packages.
Cars.com makes it easy for our experts at TheCarConnection.com by listing all Dodge Magnum 2008 trims "in ascending order"; these include "the SE, SXT, R/T and high-performance SRT8."
ForbesAutos reports "power driver seat, Split folding rear seat, Radio data system, Brake assist, Driver front impact airbag, Passenger front impact airbag, Electronic stability, Heated front seats, DVD-Audio" as Dodge Magnum 2008 standard equipment.
Kelley Blue Book states "standard features on the base 2008 Dodge Magnum SE include 17-inch wheels, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary audio input and four speakers, driver and passenger adjustable lumbar support, rear privacy glass, outside temperature display, four-wheel disc brakes, rear 60/40-split seat, remote keyless/illuminated entry, speed control and tilt and telescoping steering column."
Higher-level Magnum 2008 trims feature many desirable extras; ForbesAutos contends some of these options include "heated front seats [and] DVD-Audio" in addition to the safety equipment already mentioned.
Kelley Blue Book says that options "include rear-seat entertainment system, all-wheel drive, navigation, steering-wheel audio controls, six-disc CD/MP3 player, trailer towing package, remote engine start, automatic level control and SIRIUS Satellite Radio."
There are some performance upgrades as well; the 2008 Dodge Magnum Road/Track Performance Package "adds 20-inch chrome wheels, performance suspension and steering components and a performance exhaust good for an additional 10 horsepower."
The Car Connection Consumer Review
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