Full-size SUV's have certainly seen their fair share of changes over the past 20 years as consumer demands and a startling surge in sales saw car companies scrambling to cover almost every nook and cranny of the sport-utility market. Whereas once these large, truck-based vehicles had been judged almost solely by the power of their V-8 engines, towing capacity and how much cargo could be stuffed inside of them, by the late 1990s the situation had changed dramatically. Passenger capacity and comfort were now the greatest concerns amongst those ditching their station wagons and minivans for a huge four-wheel drive monster, and given that so many of these vehicles were based on relatively spartan full-size pickup trucks, domestic manufacturers had some catching up to do.
While standard sport-utility vehicles gradually incorporated greater and greater levels of features and equipment, a new class of luxury SUV's also appeared on the market. Traditionally, companies like Land Rover had been servicing this market for a very long period of time, but Mercedes-Benz and BMW jumped into the fray with impressive efforts of their own that changed public perception of how a full-size SUV was supposed to look, handle and feel. In the United States, Cadillac and Lincoln went in the opposite direction, creating larger and larger trucks that displayed increasingly excessive amounts of chrome and glamour. They also loaded up these trucks with a host of high tech gadgetry, placing them above standard fare from Ford and Chevrolet.
Chrysler had never before produced their own SUV, preferring to let subsidiary Dodge do all of the heavy lifting in the truck department. However, as a brand Dodge was ill-equipped to offer an upscale SUV that could compete with the full-size pack. The Dodge Durango was reasonably successful, but the lack of a high-end offering was starting to hurt Chrysler's bottom line. When the Durango was finally re-designed in the mid-2000's, the company decided to add their own version of the vehicle to the mix, called the Chrysler Aspen. Large and powerful, the Aspen used the Durango's platform as a way to build a more refined full-size experience, hoping to capture buyers interested in both brawn and beauty.
The 2007 Chrysler Aspen is the best, and only used full-size SUV to be offered by the Detroit automaker. This article is meant to help buyers decide whether the Aspen is the right choice for them when replacing their smaller vehicle with something more capable.
2007 Chrysler Aspen
The 2007 Chrysler Aspen does a fairly good job, style-wise, of differentiating itself from its Dodge sibling. While the two vehicles share the same general bulging look, the Aspen's subdued grille goes a long way towards toning down the abrasiveness of the Dodge design. However, the Aspen is still an imposing vehicle, similar in appearance to the now-defunct Ford Excursion.
For such a large vehicle, the Aspen comes with a relatively small entry-level engine. The base model of the vehicle is equipped with a 4.7-liter V-8 engine that produces 235 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Given that the Aspen weights in at close to 5,000 lbs it is far better to seek a version of the SUV outfitted with the popular 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which delivers 345 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. It also features active cylinder management, which allows the engine to shut off fuel flow to specific cylinders when they are not needed, such as during coasting or highway cruising. This affords the bigger V-8 a fuel economy rating of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway when ordered with two-wheel drive - better numbers than the 4.7-liter. Adding optional four-wheel drive lowers efficiency for either engine, and a 5-speed automatic is the sole transmission option for the Aspen.
The 2007 Chrysler Aspen can seat 7 passengers, but despite the vehicle's imposing size it doesn't provide the same level of comfort as some of the competition. Passengers relegated to the second row of seating will find themselves feeling a bit squished during longer trips, but the third row surprisingly doesn't suffer from this problem, with adequate space for legs and knees. 102 cubic feet of cargo space is available with rear seats folded out of the way, which is smack in the middle for vehicles of this class. A very long list of options can be added to the Aspen, complementing standard features such as front and rear air-conditioning, satellite radio and power everything. Some of the most popular additions to the vehicle include leather seats, power adjustable pedals, GPS navigation and parking assistance.
In terms of providing an attractive sport-utility package, the 2007 Chrysler Aspen is a nice break from the standard Dodge / Ford / Chevrolet decision faced by most drivers looking for a traditional used full-size SUV.