Downside: If you drive the Magnum SE or SXT after you drive the Magnum RT, you are going to be a tad disappointed. The SE and SXT are relatively sluggish by comparison. So if you want one of the V-6 models, do yourself the kindness of not driving the V-8.
Ride, acceleration and handling: I have never had so much fun in a station wagon. For that matter, neither did several of my neighbors. We agree: The Magnum RT rides, runs and handles better than any full-size station wagon in our memory. The thing is just a joy to drive.
Head-turning quotient: Zing! "That thing got a Hemi in it?" You betcha. Everybody wanted to see and drive this one. Also, the Magnum RT has one of the classiest interiors around.
Body style/layout: All standard Magnum wagons are front-engine, rear-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive versions are available by special order. All have four side doors with a rear hatch.
Engines/transmissions: The Magnum RT gets the 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower, V-8 Hemi. The SE gets the 200-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6; and the SXT gets the 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The RT gets a five-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually. The SE and SXT get electronically controlled four-speed automatics.
Capacities: All have seating for five people. Fuel capacity in the tested Magnum RT is 19 gallons of gasoline. Regular unleaded is recommended.
Mileage: I averaged 21 miles per gallon, combined city-highway driving. I averaged 23 miles per gallon on the highway.
Safety: Four-wheel anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; load-sensing front-seat air bags.
Price: Base price on the tested 2005 Magnum RT is $29,995. Dealer's invoice is $27,103. Price as tested is $31,220, including $1,225 in options and a $625 destination charge. Dealer's invoice price with options is $28,885. SE pricing starts at $22,495. SXT pricing starts at $25,995.
Purse-strings note: Expect dealer premiums on the high-demand RT. You can probably deal on the SE, and possibly on the SXT. Some rebates are available. It's a buy.