2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Bob McHugh

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Do we really need another big SUV? Well apparently Chrysler does, as this is actually the first SUV to display a Chrysler badge. And being a premium, luxury brand, the Chrysler SUV also has to be big and luxurious in order to compete with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.

There’s not a huge market for this type of vehicle in Canada. I was told (on the quiet) that the company realistically only expects each dealer to sell one or two. Dealers hate to see customers walk across the street to buy, a type of vehicle that they don’t offer, from a competitor.

“Loaded with premium features, fuel-saving Multi-displacement System technology and best-in-class horsepower, torque and interior room, Chrysler Aspen is a premium SUV where beauty is backed with brawn,” according to Scott Slagle.

Its brawn comes from a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 engine with a Multi-displacement System (MDS). The engine seamlessly alternates between a four-cylinder mode, to conserve fuel, and the full V8 mode when more power is demanded.

Just one version of the Aspen will be sold in Canada, compared to twelve variations in the U.S. We get the very well equipped top-line Limited trim. There are options though, and they include the Sirius Satellite radio system, a navigation system, a rear-seat Video entertainment system, a remote start system (on key fob), a trailer tow package, with a 3.92 axle ratio, and a “UConnect” hands-free communication system.

2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen. Click image to enlarge

The Aspen’s big chrome grille was inspired by the V10-powered Chrysler Chronos concept car that debuted at the North American International Auto Show back in 1998. The overall appearance is still a little more subdued than an Escalade, but there’s still no doubt that this vehicle has presence.

Yes, the “bling’ content is certainly high – note the chromed accents on body side mouldings, door handles, side mirrors, the belt moulding, the roof rack and 20-inch chromed wheels. I have a compelling urge to add a “Yo, Yo something or other.”

The Aspen shares its separate-frame (truck-style) chassis and drivetrain with the Dodge Durango. It’s a heavy vehicle (over 2300 kg) with a max towing capacity of 3,969 kg (with optional tow package). That’s better than the Escalade and on par with the Navigator.

2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen. Click image to enlarge

In addition, the Aspen also has a transmission tow mode and a unique electronic system called Trailer Sway Control. This works much like stability control system and helps counteract any unwanted yaw induced by a trailer.

The Aspen’s rigid, hydroformed frame has independent suspension up front with rack-and-pinion steering. A coil sprung rear suspension, with a Watt linkage system, attach the frame to a solid rear axle. The rear suspension can supports a substantial payload and helps give Aspen a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 3,039 kg.

2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the Aspen is spacious and has three rows of seats, an eight-speaker surround-sound audio system with a subwoofer and the cargo capacity is 1,937 litres with the third row folded.

The standard feature list is impressive and includes a power liftgate, a security system, heated front- and second-row seats, a stability control system, anti-lock brakes, a park-assist system and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Roll-overs are a safety concern for all SUVs, because of their high centre of gravity. So, in addition to the usual list of passive safety features, the Aspen has side-curtain air bags with a roll-sensing technology. The stability control system (called ESP) also has an additional active safety component called Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM). If a potential roll-over condition is sensed this system takes additional evasive action.

2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Chrysler Aspen. Click image to enlarge

The Aspen has a two-speed transfer case that features an all-wheel-drive (AWD) mode plus four-wheel-drive high, and low range. In normal-use AWD mode, the drive system has a rear-drive bias with a 48/52 torque split between the two axles.

The sub-$50,000 price-tag on the new Chrysler Aspen is perhaps its most intriguing virtue as it’s over $20,000 less than a Navigator or an Escalade. Although price is less of an issue in this class of vehicle, that’s still a huge chunk of change – or big stash of bling!

At a glance: 2007 Chrysler Aspen Limited 4×4

  • Price: $49,995
  • Engine: 5.7-litre V-8
  • Horsepower: 335 @ 5200 rpm
  • Torque: 370 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 3,027 mm (119.2 in.)
  • Length: 5,101 mm (200.8 in.)
  • Width: 1,930 mm (76 in.)
  • Height: 1,887 mm (74.3 in.)
  • Sill step-in height: 544.3 mm (21.4 in.)

Manufacturer’s web site

  • www.daimlerchrysler.ca

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