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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
Mopar hybrids don't make you give up ground clearance or roof racks for efficiency, and their tow rating remains 6000 lb
Vague brake pedal feel...poor fuel economy with the larger V8
Optional 5.7-liter V8 and five-speed automatic transmission combination is smooth and powerful
Kelley Blue Book
The addition of a hybrid model to the 2009 Chrysler Aspen lineup addresses one of the Aspen's biggest drawbacks—poor fuel economy—but this 2009 Chrysler still needs more tuning from the Chrysler engineers, according to many reviewers.
The 2009 Chrysler Aspen offers two conventional engines and a hybrid powerplant. ConsumerGuide reports that the standard conventional engine "is a 303-hp 4.7-liter V8," while a "376-hp 5.7-liter version of Chrysler's Hemi V8" is available as an option. Aspen Chrysler Hybrids, meanwhile, "have a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that pairs with a battery-powered electric motor for 385 hp" and "can run on either gas or electric power or both, depending on driving needs." Overall performance from either setup is impressive, and Edmunds says that conventional "Hemi-powered models can lug up to 8,900 lbs." The 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid is no towing slouch either, as Cars.com finds that it "handily out-tows the hybrid SUVs from Toyota and Ford," thanks to its 6,000-pound towing capacity. However, Cars.com adds that "the hybrid drivetrain feels a few steps short of primetime." As for acceleration, ConsumerGuide comments that 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrids "can accelerate solely on electric power under gentle throttle up to about 25 mph," and "once the gas engine starts, acceleration is good but falls shy of being potent." The conventional HEMI engine "delivers plenty of power at all speeds, [but feels] no faster than a V6-powered Acura MDX," according to ConsumerGuide.
Transmission options for this 2009 Chrysler SUV lineup are limited, with Edmunds reporting that the conventional engines get "a five-speed automatic transmission delivering power via 2WD or 4WD," while ConsumerGuide says that "the hybrid gets a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)" that delivers power to all four wheels. ConsumerGuide notes that Aspen Chrysler Hybrid's "transmission works well in keeping the engine in its power band." Things aren't so rosy for the five-speed automatic in the regular models, according to Edmunds, which says that the transmission "doesn't provide manual selection above 2nd gear so there's a great deal of gear hunting on hills and excessive brake use on downgrades."
Fuel economy isn't ideal on the 2009 Chrysler Aspen, although the new Aspen Chrysler Hybrid offers some relief at the pump. According to EPA estimates, 2WD Chrysler Aspens will get 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway with the 4.7-liter engine, while the HEMI offers 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. When driving all four wheels, the 4.7-liter returns 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway, while the HEMI clocks in at 13/19 mpg. One reason for the surprisingly better fuel economy from the more powerful HEMI is that "the bigger engine comes with Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System that deactivates half the cylinders under low to moderate throttle," according to ForbesAutos. The EPA estimates that the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid will get 20 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, and ConsumerGuide reports that, in their tests, "a Hybrid averaged an excellent 20.4 mpg."
The 2009 Chrysler Aspen surprises some in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com with its better-than-expected ride and handling. Edmunds reviewers claim that the Aspen Chrysler's "ride is smooth and handling is quite respectable for an SUV weighing 2.5 tons," while Kelley Blue Book attests that although it's "too big to be agile, the Aspen nonetheless handles with sure stability, and that includes during towing." However, with the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, ConsumerGuide says that drivers will find "different suspension tuning than conventional Aspens, due to its extra weight," and the overall effect is that "its bump absorption is borderline sloppy." Reviewers tend to rave about the Aspen Chrysler's steering, which Cars.com remarks "has a bouncy feel, but it springs back to center well." The major complaint with the Chrysler Aspen's performance concerns the brakes, which Edmunds notes "can feel a bit loose and the brake pedal feels vague, with lengthy stopping distances."
The 2009 Chrysler Aspen doesn’t handle particularly well, and—with the exception of the Hybrid—it guzzles fuel.