A new entry in the premium SUV class for 2007 is the Chrysler Aspen, which shares a platform with the plebeian Dodge Durango, but dressed up in nicer duds. Gone are the fussy fenders, replaced with a more prominent and upscale grille with Chrysler's signature Art Deco hood. The roofline and body are generally shared with the Durango, with the exception of some unique detailing down its flanks. Despite the chunky taillights, the body still looks more minivan than SUV to us.
The Aspen has all of the luxury prerequisites on its resume, including navigation, leather, wood accents, Sirius satellite radio, power adjustable pedals, and rear-seat entertainment system. The cabin of the Aspen is much more upscale than the Durango with more warm colors, better use of materials, and soft white LED lighting. There are seats for eight of your closest friends, but we'd go with the second-row buckets that cut that count it down to seven. With rear doors that open up to a wide 84 degrees, getting into the rear of the '07 Aspen is easier than its '76 Dodge Aspen coupe namesake. One of the nice features is the 115-volt power outlet for laptops and the like.
Like the Durango, the Aspen has its body sitting on a fully boxed and hydroformed frame that provides a robust foundation to mount the front control arms and torsion bars as well the rear coil-sprung solid axle.
Under the hood, the 5.7L Hemi OHV V-8 is the top engine, featuring 335 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. In the Aspen, the Hemi gets the Multi-Displacement System, which allows the big V-8 to run on four cylinders during low load situations, saving fuel in the process. The other engine offered is the base 4.7L Magnum SOHC V-8 with 235 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are backed by a five-speed automatic transmission.
With the Hemi and the optional Trailer Tow Group, which includes heavy-duty engine cooling, auxiliary transmission cooler, power steering cooler, 160-amp alternator, a 750cca battery, and both four- and seven-pin wiring harnesses, the Aspen can tow an impressive 8,950 pounds, made easier with trailer sway control-a new system that taps into the Electronic Stability Program to sense yaw induced by trailer sway and alternates front side-to-side braking pressure to keep it under control.
Two transfer cases are offered, a single-speed with the 4.7L V-8 and a two-speed when equipped with the Hemi. The Hemi transfer case has an AWD setting for the street, which uses a 48/52 torque split that becomes 50/50 when switched in to 4-Lock or 4-Lo. While the Aspen may not be your typical trail machine, with its skidplate package and tow hooks, it certainly could be taken down places that other street-oriented AWD luxury SUVs wouldn't dare go.
Thanks to increased sound deadening and monotube shocks, over the highway the Aspen offers a very serene ride with soft, controlled ride motions, even with the optional 20-inch wheels. Rack-and-pinion provides precise steering feedback and the large brake rotors give confidence-inspiring pedal feel.
Overall, we were impressed with the Aspen, especially its trailer towing ability. We could imagine ourselves piling some serious highway miles on the Aspen with one of our projects in tow, but if the going gets rough, the Aspen has the capability to get you through it in style.
Hemi power, smooth ride, something different.
Minivan styling, 20-inch wheels keep it from serious trails.
An elegant tow rig that will get your Jeep to the trail head in style.
Vehicle model: 2007 Chrysler Aspen
Base Price: $30,745
Engine Type: 5.7L 90-degree V-8
Valvetrain: OHV, 16 valves, hydraulic lifters with roller followers
Mfg.'s hp @ rpm: 335 @ 5,200
Mfg.'s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 370 @ 4,200
Transmission: 5-45RFE five-speed automatic with overdrive
Second: 1.67-upshift; 1.50-kickdown
Axle ratio: 3.92:1
Transfer-case ratio: 2.72:1
Suspension (f/r): Independent upper and lower A-arms, torsion bars, monotube shocks and stabilizer bar/Solid axle, coil springs, Watt linkage, monotube shocks, stabilizer bar
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes (f/r): 13.2 vented disc/13.8 solid rotor
Wheelbase (in): 119.2
Length (in): 200.8
Width (in): 76.0
Height (in): 74.3
Track (in): 64.0
Curb Weight (lb): 5021
Ground clearance f/r (in): 10.7/8.7
Max Towing capacity (lb): 8950
Interior cargo capacity (cu. ft.): 102.4
Fuel capacity (gal): 27
EPA mileage estimates (mpg): 14/19
Seating capacity: 8