Autoclinix Long Term Test:
2005 Dodge Magnum R/T HEMI

This is 2005 Dodge Magnum RT HEMI is one of the Autoclinix guys favorite rides and has turned out to be one of our best long-term test vehicles. After putting a little over 15,000 miles on this unique ride we came away more impressed than we expected and found only a few things we would suggest that Chrysler should change about these cars. As fortune would have it, Chrysler ceased production of the Magnum in late 2007 and a few 2008's are the last of the breed. It is a shame because there is a lot to like about this car; especially as a manly alternative to all the candy-ass crossover's on the market today.

Dodge refers to this body style as a "sports tourer" and throws a fit if you try to call it a station wagon. We here at Autoclinix have no problem with station wagons and comfortable enough in our manhood to say so. The Magnum shares most of its innards with the Dodge Charger and equipped with the 5.7L HEMI can do 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds. That's our kind of station wagon.

This first-year Magnum is a 2WD model with the 5.7L HEMI V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission w/ Autostick. It also features Chrysler's Electronic Stability Program (ESP), All-Speed Traction Control, 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel Independent Touring Suspension.

The powerful 5.7L HEMI boasts 340 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It features the Multi-Displacement System (MDS) engine management system that allows this powerful machine to get up to an EPA-estimated 25mpg on the highway. We averaged 20 mpg overall during our test (19 in the city and 24 on the highway). The R/T package adds a host of features including 6 Boston Acoutsic speakers, 288-watt AM/FM Stereo w/ CD, 8-way power drivers seat, and much more.

Our test car had a base price of $30,070 and as-tested listed for $33,460. In addition to the plethroa of features that come standard with the R/T package, options on our test-car included:

  • Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat Paint
  • Electronic Convenience Group
    • Instrument Cluster w/ Display Screen
    • Temperature and Compass Gauge
    • Vehicle Information Center
    • Traveler/Mini Trip Computer
    • Security Alarm
    • Steering Wheel Mounted Audio Controls
    • Homelink Universal Garage Door Opener
  • Trailer Tow Group
    • Severe-Duty Engine Cooling
    • Load Leveling and Height Control
  • Convenience Group II
    • Air Conditioning w/2-Zone Auto Temp
    • Heated Front Seats
    • Power Front Seats
    • Power Adjustable Pedals
  • Roof Rack and Cargo Organizer Group
    • Roof Rack
    • Rear Cargo Oganizer
  • SIRIUS Sattelite Radio
  • AFTERMARKET: Interior Kit - Burled Gray: Dash, Center Stack, Door Pulls, Vent Surrounds.

Click on the pictures below to view larger images of this car...

Driving Impressions

This is a full-size car when it comes to hauling people but it drives much more like a sports car than you might think. It has a relatively firm suspenion and although we didn't drive it like Mario Andretti we did put it through it's paces a few times. The steering is tight and has almost no "play"; it goes where you point it. Some of our drivers found this a little unnerving at first but quickly adjusted and found it a redeeming feature. The 340hp 5.7L HEMI V8 under the hood sounds good when tasked and even with the stock exhaust it reminds us of the muscle cars of our youth. The 5-speed automatic with AutoStick shifts as smooth as anything from Europe or Japan and probably helps this beast get respectable mileage. The Multi-Displacement System (MDS) allows the engine control computer to disable 4 of the 8 cylinders as appropriate to get up to 15% better mileage (at least according to Chrysler). The system works smooth enough (it's practically undetectable by the driver) and since we averaged almost 20mpg overall during our 40,000+ mile test we're not complaining. One thing we did notice is that when you're driving moderatetly and (presumably) in 4-cylinder mode and give the gas pedal a good hard push you need to hang on. Once all 8 cylinders kick in (in less than 40ms accordingly to Chrysler) and the 340hp spools up this thing moves. We went to pass a truck while driving home from dealer after just purchasing the car and gave it some gas and went from 50mph to 100mph before we knew what happened. Sweet.


One of the things we like about this car is the roomy interior. Real, full-size adults can occupy the rear seats for extended trips in relative comfort. The front seats are also comfortable as our test car had an 8-way power driver's seat and power passenger seat as well. The dual-zone automatic climate control is easy to operate and works as expected (there are rear seat vents as well). The Magnum's exterior styling features a high waist-line and you definitly sit "low" compared to the feeling in say an SUV. Some reviewers have complained about the "coffin-like" feel but they're sissys. We like the stance of the car and the low roof-line. Some people pay big money to chop the top of a street rod. You can get a similar feeing here for a lot less. Rear visibility is not the best given the gun-slit sized rear window but you get used to it pretty quickly. That said, headroom is excellent front and rear. One of our testers is 6'6" and he had headroom to spare even in the rear seat.

The interior is nicely laid-out and the instrument cluster provides a nice set of white-faced analog gauges. The tilt/telescopic steering is infinitely adjustable and drivers of almost any shape-and-size should be able to get comfortable in this car. Although we like the layout, size and ergnomics of much of the interior the materials used are another story. The leather seats in our test car are sweet but most everything else is a sea of cheaper-looking-than-it-should-be plastic. We think garbage cans are made out of the same, industrial-gray plastic. Chrysler fixed much of this with the 2008 models by using better materials and by slightly re-designing the interior. Too bad they then promptly ceased production of the Magnum. We attempted to dress up the interior of our test car with a do-it-yourself dash trim kit (see pictures above). The factory radio with CD player, Sirius sateliite radio, and Boston Acoustic speakers sounds as good as any factory sound system we've heard.

Problems / Issues

Problems with our test car were few; especially considering it was a first-year produciton unit: an ABS sensor had to be replaced due to it "sticking" and causing the ESP light to come on, a TSB for the front-end was performed to correct an alignment issue (car pulled to the right), the rear hatch struts had to be replaced at ~11,000 miles, and a valve in the emission system had to be replaced; all covered under the 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty. Now you should know that our car sat on the lot for almost a year before we bought it. It was a left-over 2005 model that we purchased after the 2006 models came out. As such, some of these issues could have been caused by the car sitting for so long. For what it's worth, our dealer experience has been very good. We have used 3 different Dodge dealers to perform the warranty service in order get a feel for Dodge's dealer network and have to say all the dealers we worked with provided solid service. Many Chrysler/Dodge owners have horror stories to tell about their dealer experiences but, for what it's worth, all of ours have been good. Note that the dealers were unaware that this was a long-term test car being reviewed by the Autoclinix staff. We got the same service any other schmoe would get.

The tires on our test car are 225/60/18 Continental ContiTouringContact's (what marketing genius came up with that name?) In our opinion, they are crap. We're pretty sure they're made from a special blend of rubber and concrete. At 15,000 miles we'd had all we could stand and replaced the Conti-crap tires with Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires all around. What a difference they have made. They ride better, handle better, are quieter and (so far) seem to be wearing much better than the factory-installed Continental tires we had so grown to hate. This is one upgrade we should have done a lot sooner.


In summary, we like this car and hate to see Chrysler kill it. It's fast, it's comfortable, it carries four full-size adults in comfort, it's got a kickin' sound system, and it's as solid at 60,000+ miles as it was the day we took delivery. With a few minor user upgrades (tires, dash trim, etc.) we'd drive this thing until the tires fell off. For a RWD V8 car it gets respectable mileage and dang it we think it's good-looking.

Copyright © 2005-2015 by AutoClinix. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.