Essentially a re-badged Dodge Durango, the Chrysler Aspen was first introduced in 2007 as the first SUV to ever wear the Chrysler wings. In 2009, Chrysler will break the mold again when the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid hits showroom floors, adding another soldier to the ranks of American SUVs joining the fight against import hybrid invasion [ok, so maybe we’re editorializing a tad].
Borrowing heavily from the Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid, the Aspen Hybrid features Chrysler’s innovative Electronically Continuously Variable Transmission, powered by two electric motors and four fixed gears. Perfectly combining power and fuel efficiency, the Aspen Hybrid manages to maintain the full, famed power of its 5.7-L HEMI V8 engine while simultaneously boasting a 40% jump in fuel efficiency. Even with a total output of 385-hp and 380lb-ft of torque, the Aspen Hybrid still earns an EPA fuel rating of 18mpg city/19 hwy [a significant improvement over previous model years’ 13 city/18 hwy]. The noticeable boost in the Aspen Hybrid’s city rating can be directly attributed to Mode 1 of the Aspen Hybrid’s Two-Mode system and the 300V battery packs [automatically recharged by the vehicle’s regenerative braking system] stored beneath the second row seats. In Mode 1, when driving at speeds up to 30 mph, the vehicle is capable of running on 100% electrical energy [even when towing at the 6,000lb max capacity]. When speeds exceed 30mph, Mode 2 is automatically engaged and the HEMI’s full 8-cylinders are put to use.
While the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid isn’t quite as fuel efficient as some other hybrids on the market, we seriously doubt the Toyota Prius could tow your 24ft. Sea Ray Sundancer. Chrysler deserves major props for re-engineering one of its biggest vehicles to significantly improve fuel efficiency while authentically preserving its brute-force reputation. Bottom line: We love the idea of the Detroit 3 refusing to concede defeat on their home turf.