How to Spend $1,500 Cash Back

We get a lot of rebate information here at We report on sales and incentives, we juggle numbers, we stare at window stickers. It gets almost tedious after a while, but we know how important the information is to car shoppers. So some days it’s nice to take a sunny afternoon drive in the physical equivalent of $1,500 cash back — especially when that $1,500 comes on a 425-hp, Hemi-powered station wagon like the 2007 Dodge Magnum.

Interestingly enough, we got this particular 400-mile-old 2007 Magnum just six months ahead of the 2008 coming out. There are few changes to the new model, most noticeably a snarling hood scoop. That means the remaining SRT8s might be had for a deal until the new ones show up, and buyers won’t be missing out on much. Chrysler has officially put $1,500 on the hood to help sell the remaining SRT8s, and it’s one of the few times I’ve ever been excited to sit down and bust out a blog on incentives.

Truth be told, though, I’ve driven all three SRT8 models (Magnum, Charger and 300C) many times and knew what I was getting into. What struck me about this refresher course was how smooth the ride was. Usually in high-performance variants the body rattles because the suspension is so tightly wound. The Magnum was nice and comfortable on rough highways. Now, the steering and handling could definitely use some work — there are little jitters from the front and rear — but this is still more of a straight-ahead, black-rubber-stripes-from-the-stoplight kind of ride, not some track carver. Even the somewhat uninspired interior has been growing on me since I’ve started noticing a lot of uninspired interiors lately.

I wonder how much of that $1,500 will go to gas, though. The 14/20 mpg city/highway sure isn’t eco-friendly, and our test vehicle’s computer told me there were fewer than 200 miles to go on an almost-full 19-gallon fuel tank. To be fair, we were “testing” it with a healthy right foot, but wouldn’t someone who bought one drive it like that all the time, too?

The Urban DINK in me would actually consider the less-powerful, all-wheel-drive Magnum R/T because, like the SRT8, the rear cargo area is just huge, and I dig wagons. My wife even likes the looks. I just couldn’t justify the SRT8 price — even with a deal — and RWD. Plus there’s even more cash back on the R/T — $2,500. That kind of looks good right now — $31,890 before destination and after discounts. But then I have to remember the thing is 16 inches longer than our Jeep Grand Cherokee and we live in the middle of Chicago…

For suburbanites and muscle-car fans, I can see the Magnum SRT8 as a vehicle that becomes more attractive as the discounts go up.


Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David