The Great American Wagon: Was the Dodge Magnum Ahead of Its Time?
Despite riding on a platform that was first introduced in the mid-2000s and having certain components that go back even further than that, the venerable LX platform continues to be both profitable for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and popular among enthusiasts.
Whether it’s the Dodge Challenger coupe, the Dodge Charger sedan or the Chrysler 300, these large, rear-wheel drive machines have earned legions of fans and are still going strong in 2019 with tons of engine options and increasingly powerful performance variants. That’s why it can be easy to forget that there was once a fourth member of the LX family, the Dodge Magnum, which was sold between 2005 and 2008 and is still looked back upon fondly by many.
From Concept to Powerful Reality
The Magnum first appeared back in 2003 as a well-received concept car that reimagined the classic American station wagon as low slung, modernized vehicle, and when the production version arrived for the 2005 model year, it looked amazingly similar to the concept.
Lower trim models were powered by V6 engines, but the big story was the 2005 Magnum R/T, which used the new 5.7L Hemi V8 and made an impressive 340hp. There was even an all-wheel drive variant available.
More Than Just an Engine
Inside, the Magnum was spacious and comfortable and offered practicality that was superior to many SUVs, and despite being a large car, it handled surprisingly well thanks to its Mercedes-derived independent rear suspension.
Things got even better in 2006 with the debut of the Magnum SRT-8. It packed the larger 6.1L Hemi that made 425hp and was able to power the big wagon to quarter mile ETs in the low 13 second range.
Along with the extra power under the hood, the Magnum SRT-8 also sported a more aggressive stance with big 20-inch wheels and large Brembo brakes. The front and rear bumpers were also redone for a tougher look. A black Magnum SRT-8 was a very sinister looking ride.
By the mid-2000s, the station wagon had already long been vanquished as the American family vehicle of choice, but the Dodge Magnum did a great job of bringing some sexy back to the bodystyle. In particluar, the Magnum SRT-8 was an American performance car unlike any that had come before or since.
Unfortunately though, despite finding plenty of fans and earning accolades from the automotive media, the Dodge Magnum wouldn’t have a long lifespan. In 2007, it was announced that ‘08 would be the last year of the Magnum, while the 300, Charger and the soon to be released Dodge Challenger would carry on.
Power Ahead of Its Time
These days, with the sedan market trending downward, it’s interesting to wonder what might have happened to the Magnum had it stayed in production, especially with the rise of high performance people haulers like the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk or Ford Explorer ST.
Would a modern Magnum enjoy the same success that the Challenger and Charger have had in recent years? It could, especially with their improved drivetrains and popular Scat Pack and SRT variants packing nearly 500hp.
It should also be said that even a lower-end Magnum with 3.6L Pentastar V6 and eight-speed automatic would be a great family car for those who don’t want a high-riding SUV.
Then of course there’s the idea of the Magnum Hellcat. Because how awesome would it be to have a station wagon with a 700+ hp blown Hemi V8 and all of the other performance goodies that make those cars great?
Was the Dodge Magnum ahead of its time? Or was it the last breath of a forgotten segment? Whatever the case, with the enduring success of the LX platform and the way FCA has fully embraced the muscle car attitude in recent years, we’d love to see a revival of the Dodge Magnum with some new high tech tricks. Who’s with us?