2008 Aspen New Car Test Drive
The 2008 Chrysler Aspen is a big, traditional sport utility vehicle capable of towing substantial loads. The Aspen is in the same class as the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition, but it has more luxury amenities than most of those vehicles.
Introduced for the 2007 model year, the Chrysler Aspen is based on the Dodge Durango. Aspen shares Durango's size and mechanicals, the main differences being styling, interior and tuning. Both use truck chassis and engineering, giving them the advantages of a cavernous interior and the ability to tow trailers (up to 8,900 pounds).
Aspen's electronic stability control system incorporates a new feature designed to control trailer sway.
Two V8 engines are available, a 4.7-liter flex-fuel V8 that gains 68 hp for 2008 for a total of 303 horsepower, and a 335-hp 5.7-liter V8. The 4.7-liter can run on regular gasoline or E85 (a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol). The 5.7-liter Hemi uses Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System, which conserves fuel by shutting off half the cylinders when the engine is running under a light load. Buyers can choose between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive with either engine.
Both powertrains earn decent fuel economy ratings by the federal government, either matching the competition or at worst giving up no more than one or two miles per gallon, even in the revised system the EPA uses for the 2008 model year.
Aspen is a nice-looking SUV with styling that features Chrysler's traditional but subdued egg-crate grille, mildly curvaceous bodylines reminiscent of the Dodge Durango, and an attractively sculpted tailgate. The wheel wells are filled with good-looking 18-inch alloy wheels or optional 20-inch chrome rims.
Aspen accommodates seven or eight passengers, depending on the seating configuration. Three rows of seats are standard, starting with front buckets, a second-row bench and a third-row bench. Buckets are optional for the second row to reduce seating to seven.
The interior blends elegant-looking, satin-finish metallic accents with woodgrain trim on the dash and center console. The standard upholstery is Chrysler's trademarked Yes Essentials fabric that resists stains and odors. Leather trim is optional and all of the usual power and personalization features are available.
In addition to the upgraded 4.7-liter V8, Aspen gets new safety and entertainment features for 2008. Chrysler's MyGIG radio, which includes a 20-gigabyte hard drive that holds songs, pictures, and navigation system map information, is available, as is a rear backup camera.
The 2008 Chrysler Aspen is available as only the Limited model. The Limited 2WD ($32,005) and Limited AWD ($34,880) come standard with a 4.7-liter V8. Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is optional with 2WD ($795) or AWD ($990). The all-wheel drive system has a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing.
Standard features include front and rear air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, Yes Essentials anti-stain and odor-resistant fabric upholstery, front bucket seats, 8-way power driver seat, reclining second-row 40/20/40 split folding seat, third-row 60/40 split folding seat, heated power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, Alpine AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auxiliary input jack, Sirius satellite radio, universal garage door opener, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, fog lights, roof rails, and 265/60R18 on/off-road tires on alloy wheels.
All-wheel drive models come standard with the power rear liftgate.
Options start with a Quick Order package for 2WD ($4270) and AWD ($3785) that includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, four-way power passenger seat, power-adjustable pedals, memory system (driver seat, mirrors, pedals), Chrysler's MyGIG Entertainment System with hard-drive radio, rearview camera, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming driver side and rearview mirrors, floor mats, laminated door glass, running boards, and 265/50R20 tires on chrome alloy wheels; the package for the 2WD model also gets rear obstacle detection and the power liftgate. The Popular Equipment group for 2WD ($1125) and AWD ($600) has rear obstacle detection, power-adjustable pedals, remote engine start, and running boards; the 2WD also gets the power liftgate. The Popular Equipment group II ($1405) has a rear DVD entertainment system, remote engine start, and Chrysler's UConnect wireless cell phone link. A Trailer Tow group ($575) adds special axle ratio (with 5.7-liter V8), heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling, skid plates (AWD), Class IV trailer hitch, and a wiring harness.
Chrysler's MyGIG Entertainment System ($1055) is new for 2008. It includes a 6.5-inch touch-screen and a 20-gigabyte hard drive to hold songs and pictures. It includes Sirius satellite radio, rear obstacle detection, rearview camera and UConnect. The hard-drive radio is also offered in the MyGIG Multi-Media Infotainment System ($950), which adds a navigation system with real time traffic and voice activation. It is only available with the Quick Order package, and UConnect is also included.
Also available are leather upholstery ($780), heated front seats ($250), heated second-row bucket seats ($950), a sunroof ($850), rear DVD entertainment ($1295), remote engine start ($185), and accent-color running boards ($445).
Safety features include front multi-stage airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover all three seating rows and are programmed to activate in the event of a rollover. Missing, however, are front side airbags that protect the torso in side crashes, a feature increasingly common on cars and SUVs. The second-row seats have child safety seat anchors and tethers (LATCH), but the third row doesn't. Traction control, which limits tire spinning in slick conditions, is standard. The electronic stability program, which attempts to keep the vehicle from spinning out, is augmented with a rollover-sensitive algorithm, which extends deployment duration, and Trailer Sway Control, which applies individual brakes to keep the vehicle on its intended path when towing. Electronic brake-force distribution, which optimizes front-to-rear brake application in emergencies, comes standard along with brake assist, which ensures full braking performance in a panic stop. A tire-pressure monitor signals when tires are low on air. Rear obstacle detection is standard on all-wheel drive models. A.