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POWER-PLAY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Nov 28, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

POWER-PLAY

By Contributing Editor KURT FUHRMANN

By now, most of us have heard of DaimlerChrysler's forefront advertisements on HEMI® power, ranging from sedans, such as the 300C SRT8, to Ram trucks, and now a station wagon with a 5.7L Magnum engine. With all this hype about vehicles supporting big eight cylinder Hemi engines, just what in the world is a HEMI?

'Glad you asked (or did I ask?). The HEMI is truly a masterpiece in engine design. The hemispherical head originated in the late 1930's, in an effort to improve performance. During WWII, Chrysler also produced military aircraft with the hemispherical head. The HEMI ® head's uniqueness is in the design of the combustion chamber being hemispherical in shape. This shape accommodates large valves and places the spark plugs close to the center of the combustion chamber. In addition, the cross-flow valve arrangement is perpendicular to the crankshaft centerline. In short, this unique design produces an inherent airflow, which significantly increases horsepower. This new power was most significantly noted on Feb. 23, 1964, when stock cars equipped with the 426 HEMI ® engine swept the Daytona 500, taking first, second and third.

Chrysler's decision in the late 1940s to build a V-8 engine yielded one of the most technologically advanced engine designs in the world. In 1951, the HEMI engine for automobiles originated in a 180-horsepower 5.4L V-8. Over the years, the engine has become more technologically advanced, as demonstrated in the muscle cars of the 60s, with such models as the 1965 Dodge Coronet 440, powered by a 1968 426 cubic inch HEMI. Today, the legendary motor that powered the muscle cars of the 60s has been reborn in pure high performance muscle known as the 5.7L HEMI® (A Multiple Displacement V-8). The Magnum RT's 5.7-liter HEMI® V8 engine with the Multiple-Displacement System (MDS). The MDS system switches from eight cylinders to four during cruising and light acceleration. This improves fuel economy from 5 to 20 percent, depending on driving habits. "I guess my driving habits never allowed for the MDS to kick in - after all, the 340 hp HEMI® wouldn't let me!" The estimated mileage, per the Environmental Protection Agency, is 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. However, I didn't see much better than 18 mpg during my entire trip to Las Vegas.

The Magnum's HEMI® produces 340 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. Imagine going back in time to the 1960s and owning a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T with this new 5.7L HEMI®, no one could beat you. You'd be King. Or, from the Movie "Grease" with John Travolta, you'd be "greased lightning." While this may be a great dream, today's Dodge Magnum RT does have such muscle and while Ferraris and Lamborghinis may be out of the Magnum's league, its favorite food is any wanna-be sports car.

The Magnum AWD RT, a station wagon? No, not a Ford Woody or Rambler. Not even one of those big clunkers of the 70s like the Pontiac Bonneville or Chevy Chevelle. The Magnum exemplifies brute power. The Magnum is a big wagon, but with flared fenders, tinted sloped rear windows, and a muscular front grill, help make this low profile machine a far cry from the old grocery and kid haulers we all feared during our youth. Today, instead of hiding in the back when being dropped off at school, the kids in the Magnum will be hanging out the window holding both thumbs up!

The next stop is Las Vegas. For four days, I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the all-new 2005 AWD Magnum RT. The trip to Las Vegas seemed rather short, the power of the HEMI® stole my soul. However, even more amazing than the shear joy of raw power was how many times I was approached during the trip to compliment me on "what a great looking car" I had. While the alluring low profile looks ominous, its other purpose is to assist the four-wheel independent suspension in maintaining the Magnum's smoothness and stability in a multitude of road conditions and speeds. Combining the suspension and all-wheel drive with such standard features as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), All-Speed Traction Control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and Emergency Brake Assistance, performance and stability are marvelous. One extra bonus is a special sealant on the inner lining of the tires, which fills punctures up to 0.19 inches, minimizing loss in air pressure - helping keep passengers safe.

The interior is equally dressed. Heated leather bucket seats with the drivers seat supporting 8-Way Power adjustment and climate control keeps me warm and comfortable throughout my travels. The instrument panel is easily visible and the navigation system keeps me on track. Yes, the stereo is excellent, after all, six Boston Acoustics speakers provide the ambiance from a 288-watt AM/FM stereo with CD and CD changer - let the good times roll. The interior room is another story altogether.

The Dodge commercial, "open it up from either end" is right on point. The Magnum has a ton of storage capacity: 71.6 cubic feet. It even handled my wife's luggage - and she seems to always pack for a month or two.

As with most automobiles, there are usually a few things that may need a second look. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is the location and design of the cruise control and front window washer. Both controls are on the left side, the smaller cruise control is located behind the window washer control. Consequently, when I want to cruise I wash the window and when I want to wash the window I go cruising. I also think both driver and passenger seats should be electronically adjusted. Call me spoiled, but having the AWD RT, top of the line Magnum, a manual front seat doesn't seem right. Besides, the manual controls are difficult to adjust. And one-touch power windows should be added. With all that power under the hood, both hands on the wheel are important.

All in all, the Magnum looks and performs great. The awe-inspiring acceleration makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up from the adrenaline rush. No need for those wake-up drinks when driving the RT.

The new 2005 all-wheel drive Magnum RT is fast, smooth and agile at all speeds. Funny how this news travels, faster than the Mangum itself. Even the Highway Patrol is looking into a supped-up version of the RT. What's next?

For more information please go to www.dodge.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: Base $29, 370.00 as tested $35, 435.00

Engine type: 5.7L HEMI® multiple displacement V8

Horsepower: 340 @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 390 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm

Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive

Transmission type: 5 speed automatic (w5a580) with AutoStick®

Suspension: Short- and long-arm front suspension Independent five-bar multilink rear suspension

Wheels and tires: P225/60R18 A/S Touring tires, 18" x 7.5" polished aluminum

Brakes: Front: Disc Rear: Disc Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with all speed traction control, Premium Four wheel Antilock system (ABS)

Overall length: 197.7"

Overall width: 74.1"

Overall height: 58.4"

Curb weight: 4,336 lbs.

EPA mileage estimates City / Highway: 17 / 25

0-60 mph: 6.3

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