Sure enough, Chrysler claims the Two-Mode system improves city fuel economy by 40 per cent, while the trucks' combined city/highway figures jump by 25 per cent. Both trucks are rated at 19/20 mpg city/highway, and during a moderate drive over some hilly New England coastline, we saw figures as high as 22 mph.
Those numbers help the lumbering sport utilities remain relevant in today's market, but they only improve the vehicle if fuel economy was your only complaint. Quirks present in previous models (e.g. substantial wind noise, noticeable body flex, and hard interior plastics) carry through to the hybrid models.
Some quirks, like spongy re-generative braking and light steering, were to be expected from a hybrid, but we occasionally noticed some shudder when the transmission was shifting between modes. Yes, it happens even on GM's hybrids, but it's certainly something that could stand additional refinement.
Still, with pricing starting at more than $5000 less than the Tahoe Hybrid, we're betting consumers wanting a large utility may bat their eyes towards a Chrysler or Dodge dealer in the near future.
2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid
Engine: 5.7-liter 'Hemi' V-8
Horsepower: 345 hp @ 6000 rpm; 385 hp (net w/ electric motors)
Torque: 380 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm (estimated.)
L x W x H: 202.1 x 76.0 x 73.6 in
Legroom F/R/R: 41.4/37.4/ 34.5 in
Headroom F/R/R: 40.8/39.3/39.2 in
Cargo capacity (seats up/down): 20.1/102.4 cu ft
Curb Weight: 5609 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 19/20 mpg (est)
Dodge Durango Hybrid MSRP: $45,340 (incl. $800 destination)
Chrysler Aspen Hybrid MSRP: $45,570 (incl. $800 destination)