What’s New: All new for 2009, the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid offer Hemi power, up to 20 mpg thanks to two-mode hybrid technology co-developed with GM and others, plenty of features, and four-wheel-drive capability for about $45,000.
Competes With: Cadillac Escalade Hybrid,Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, GMC Yukon Hybrid
What We Think: Torquey diesels and wimpy hybrid powertrains once made the notion of a large gas/electric utility vehicle laughable. Then came two-mode hybrid technology, and as a result, a Hemi V-8 that can achieve 20 mpg in a four-wheel-drive eight-passenger SUV weighing nearly three tons. It makes sense to us, especially with a price thousands less than the competition.
Review: 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid
If there’s one point that politicians, oil companies, consumers, and automakers can agree on, it’s this: Gasoline is expensive, and today’s cars and trucks need to get better gas mileage. We’re making a dent in our dependence on petroleum with smaller vehicles, including hybrid versions of cars such as the Honda Civic. But in these cases, you’re simply talking about making already fuel-efficient vehicles more fuel-efficient. That doesn’t help the millions of drivers who want and/or need a full-size SUV.
Enter the Dodge Durango Hybrid and its cousin, the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid: eight-passenger SUVs that tow up to 6,000 pounds, feature standard four-wheel drive, and record about 20 mpg despite housing a Hemi V-8 engine under the hood. Using a two-mode transmission developed in partnership with BMW, GM, and Mercedes-Benz, fuel economy ratings for both big SUVs represent a 46-percent gain in city mileage and a 25-percent overall gain.
Clearly, filling our streets with vehicles that achieve up to 20 mpg won’t solve our energy crisis, but for those consumers who find that large SUVs continue to make sense, the 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid and 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid mark a positive move forward. Sales start in September.
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