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phillipu's Garage

2009 Chrysler Aspen Limited Hybrid AWD 4dr


2009-09-11 11:50:37
So far, pretty impressed   . . . . .   
Bought this in May of 2009 so I've been driving it four over three months now. The hybrid system is really well
implemented and I'm averaging over 21 miles per gallon. Overall, I like this vehicle very much and I am disappointed
that it has been discontinued. I might have bought another for my wife. Interior build quality is fair. The interior
carpet is made of a cheap looking material and is awkwardly bunched in corners with edges of the carpet visible where
they weren't properly hidden behind vinyl trim. A few plastic covers have already popped off (those covering the front
seat outer hip seatbelt mechanisms and the third row seat folding releases). Easily popped back in, but really these
small pieces should have been designed and assembled better. Seats are exceptionally firm. My personal preference is a
well cushioned seat on a firm surface so I'll probably be looking to see if I can modify this. Interior ergonomics are
good, but not perfect. Placement of the nav system in the middle of the center column is too far removed from the
driver's sight line to meet my preferences, but maybe having the distraction of an animated nav system out of constant
view could be preferred by someone. As with most touch-screen media/nav systems, the lack of tactile response makes
operating of the system a little more dangerous while driving than a non-touch screen system but the steering-wheel
controls and voice control mitigate almost 100% of this. A couple peeves: the intermittent rear wiper control is
located on the climate control cluster about as far from the driver as you can get instead of on the turn signal arm
with the front wiper control and glove box is laughably tiny especially when compared to the expansive empty panel the
passenger gets to look at. Luckily ample storage is available in the center console. Exterior design is nice. Much
better looking than the Dodge Durango it shares its manufacturing platform with, in my opinion. The front profile
combined with a lower, more car-compatible bumper lend a bit of a minivan style, but when you see one next to a minivan,
there's no mistaking that this is a truck. My only complaints are that the Hybrid only comes with 18" chrome-clad
(essentially hub caps) wheels instead of larger ones and that the rear lift gate lacks a independently opening glass and
doesn't have a button to invoke closing it (the key fob or a button on the front overhead console must be used
instead.) Performance is admirable. There is a bit of hesitation on fast starts from a dead stop with the gas engine
off as it needs to be started, but once moving, especially at highway speeds, this is not encountered. And when the gas
engine kicks in with a lead foot, everyone inside and outside knows it. Braking performance is excellent. The only
difference I've noticed is that coasting distance is reduced, presumably due to the regenerative braking system. But
more importantly, since I drive conservatively, I average 21 MPG. The 2000 Dodge Durango that I replaced averaged 11.6
MPG and was smaller and had less horsepower and torque. I have not yet had an opportunity to tow with my Aspen yet, but
the inclusion of both common power outlets for trailers without the need for an adapter is a nice touch. Ride quality
is nice. Probably would be nicer with softer seats. But the suspension is clearly tuned for a soft ride. It should be
noted that this is a full-size SUV, not a crossover. It is based on a truck platform and drives like a truck. Compared
to other truck-based SUVs (Chevy Tahoe, Ford Excursion), this is probably the nicest and best-handling ride I've
experienced. Reliability remains to be seen. My decision to get this vehicle in Chrysler's current state was driven
largely by the government's promise to honor factory warranties which for this vehicle was a 3-year/36,000-mile
bumper-to-bumper with a 8-year/100,000-mile hybrid component and *lifetime* (for the original owner) on all other
drivetrain components. I've experienced no functional problems to date. Overall, I enjoy this vehicle very much. The
breadth of the creature comforts (touchscreen nav, 8.1 sound, bluetooth, three-zone auto climate, power windows, seats,
dimming mirrors, pedals with memory, power lift gate, rear camera with proximity sensors, etc.) being included in the
base model is certainly nice. I only wonder what could have happened if the product hadn't been discontinued. I
imagine a bigger battery pack and more powerful electric motors (which currently allow 25-30 mph driving on electric
alone) could have made this a very compelling plug-in hybrid candidate.