by Clint Burgess

It's not unusual for automobile manufacturers to redesign a specific model or even two and then put together a cool concept car to turn the heads of fickle auto reviewers. However, Dodge has taken this idea and turned it inside out. The company has redesigned and released new models of a surprising number of vehicles and is poised to move toward a new vision in car design, function, and style.

One of the particularly eye-catching models that Dodge has put on the market is the Magnum. This sleek piece of machinery combines the styling of an SUV with a full-on low rider/muscle car. The Magnum is a lot more, though, than just looks. It comes equipped with a standard V6 and can be bumped up to the ever-popular 340 horsepower HEMI on the RT model. If you've ever wanted to cruise in comfort and style as well as have a place to put your accessories -- say, a surfboard -- the Magnum can accommodate. And weighing in at just under $26,000 for the SRT, Magnum is heavy on features and light on the pocketbook. The Magnum is no slouch on safety either. It comes standard with front and side air bags. It features a unibody construction that allows for greater stability of the vehicle's inner framing in the event of a collision and maintains the Dodge high safety standards.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dodge has thrown an exciting new utility vehicle into the mix. The Sprinter is similar to a cargo van but also comes in a passenger configuration. It offers the perfect blend of space and comfort that allows for a number of versatile uses. The Sprinter starts at about $27,500 and moves up according to configuration and options. While the aim for the Sprinter is for the passenger market, Dodge really is pushing it on two horizons. Its applications as a working utility vehicle are endless. The cargo model features three different wheel bases coinciding with body length, 473 cubic feet of interior space, and a possible 73-inch interior height to maximize storage. On the passenger side, Sprinter offers a number of configurations that allow for comfort and cargo. It can be configured to seat eight or 10 (depending on wheel base) and also includes features for disabled person's access.

Rounding out this Dodge lineup is the SRT-4. A performance sports car that clocks in under $21,000, this little rocket has all the speed to satisfy the need of drivers with a passion for the road. And it looks great too. The 230 horses under the hood provide the kick, and independent front and rear suspension with gas-charged struts keep that kick under control and allow for a smooth ride. The SRT-4 is nice to look at as well. And that is certainly something to consider in a sporty piece of machinery like this. As with all Dodge models, it is also packed to the hilt with all the standard safety features, making it one of the best outfitted vehicles in its class. Just a few of the bells and whistles include remote keyless entry, optional power moon roof, and, as Dodge puts it, "An earth-rattling sound system". That's a lot of car for the sticker price.

With so many models and options to choose from, consumers are on the lookout for a few standards that will put a vehicle or manufacturer in a different class. Dodge has made a play to move to the forefront of the market with these new vehicles and with overhauls to their existing models. The company has created a lot of buzz in the past with vehicles like the Viper and is now looking ahead to the future of the open road.

Publication date: 09/16/04

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