By on August 6, 2008

Who will buy?Detroit News scribe Scott Burgess is the gas-guzzling Dodge Challenger SRT-8's target demographic: a 50-something white car guy who never met a big-bore V8 he didn't like. As such, as a writer for Motown's hometown paper, Burgess can't just come out and call the new $46k Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid a deeply-misguided, over-priced, poorly-built piece of shit. Even though, clearly, it is. The resulting review is a study in inner conflict and rhetorical turmoil. (Or is that the other way around?) We're talking about a vehicle that gets a "???" on Burgess' report card. There's plenty of unintentional humor to be had here, as the reviewer plays good cop/bad cop with his own conscience. "This SUV handles like a bowl of Jello when going fast. The electric power steering is a little loose and the body rolls through turns heavily. I said it before: it's a big truck. The braking (which also helps recharge the batteries) is excellent, so I never found myself in too much trouble. There may be people who need this kind of vehicle, but the real problem is there are just not that many." And if you want insight into Detroit's chip-on-the-shoulder belligerence and product-related denial, well, here it is. "So before every hemp-wearing nut spills his green ice tea lemonade (no syrup) while in a hurry to send me a terse e-mail over his iPhone 3G about the evils of SUVs, let me tell you something: You're wrong. Americans may switch to smaller cars, but it's only because they have to; not because they want to." So now you know.

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22 Comments on “DetN Burgess: Aspen HEMI Hybrid “Is a Fine SUV.” Or Not....”


  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    With leasing gone: no money down, $46k divided by 72 interest-free (if Chrysler offers) payments = $639/month. That’s what Americans “have to do”: purchase affordable vehicles, ’cause this ain’t it.

  • avatar
    NickR

    It speaks volumes about Chrysler that they chose to devote resources to developing this automotive anachronism. Combine the time and effort they put into this, and the Caliber, and put into seriously upgrading/refingin the Neon and Chrysler would have been light years ahead.

  • avatar
    Orian

    I’ve never had a desire to buy a SUV. Even when gas prices were low I didn’t want one. This guy has drank way too much of the Detroit cool aid.

  • avatar
    RayH

    (There also is a Dodge Durango hybrid, a few hundred dollars less than the Aspen, but its interior and exterior don’t match the Aspen.)

    Different wheels, different grills, different badges= entirely different.

    It’s rated at 19c/20hwy, he claimed to get 26mpg at one point, but didn’t say over how long a period , just hinted he was going more the 55mph… downhill, wind behind, drafting?

    I have a feeling I won’t be seeing one of these on the road, ever.

  • avatar
    barberoux

    Who says they have to? True it is only sensible to drive a vehicle that uses less of a dwindling resource but who ever said SUV drivers were sensible.

  • avatar
    JT

    Maybe it’s just me, but does anybody else see
    “hybrid SUVs” as the Motor City equivalent of putting wheels on a fish?

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    The braking (which also helps recharge the batteries) is excellent, so I never found myself in too much trouble.

    That’s a positive review of the brakes, sounds like this giant building with wheels has dangerous brakes to me.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    Again with the “or not?”

    I drove the 2mode Tahoe. I thought it was sensational. So was the price, unfortunately.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    RayH
    “I have a feeling I won’t be seeing many of these on the road, ever.”

    Sure you will RayH. You’ll see loads of them…on car haulers enroute to make-shift ghost towns, oops, I mean Chrysler/Dodge dealers. Then you won’t see anymore after that!

    DT

  • avatar
    thalter

    I’ve still yet to see my first Tahoe hybrid on the road, and they are pretty hard to miss with their foot high HYBRID lettering on th side.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    thalter: I have seen two Escalade hybrids on the road. But I live in Warren, MI. And I was on Mound, the road the GM Tech Center is on. And they had blue license plates. So…..

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    I’d be scared to death to buy a Chrysler hybrid considering the “quality” of the cars that they’re building now. One good thing though, it probably has free anti-theft built into it….everytime you go to reach for the door handle you get knocked on your ass like that F1 team mechanic.

  • avatar
    nudave

    Well, I’m a 50-something white car guy and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a lard-ass like the Aspen.

    Tip for the rest of the demographic: This thing ain’t no cure for erectile dysfunction. It’s merely proof that you are a sufferer in search of a cure.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    But the Aspen is just the flagship in a Chrysler that was completely ‘truckified’ in the past five years – maybe you could call it the SUV ‘bubble.’

    It seems to almost parallel the housing or stock market bubbles in that the worst of the damage occurs during the protracted ‘bigger fool’ period when the players know in the marrow of their bones that they are just digging themselves in deeper.

    How could they not have at least hedged their bets with something sane?

    Consider that awful 3000lb Caliber replaced the Neon – bet they wish they had a decent compact sedan about now.

    And for 2009 the big trick will be a…390hp Hemi Ram! Go Chrysler, GO!

    BUT…

    Having said all that – within five years, hybrid is really the only way to go if you really want something this big and powerful given that the new CAFE standard won’t give the usual ‘truck’ break.

  • avatar
    netrun

    $300 x 72 months = $21,600

    Thanks to no leases, this is the target that Detroit has to hit. Anything over this (like the hybrid Aspen) is going to sell in limited (can you say niche?) numbers.

    Oh, and do you really want to buy a high-tech vehicle from a company on the skids that might, maybe have enough cash to pay it’s suppliers three months after they’ve received their parts and assembled the vehicles?

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    It makes as much sense as a yukon hybrid. But with greater depreciation. Maybe as a driveway ornament..

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Man I needed this today! Several of the responses to this article made me laugh out loud.

    Ryan

  • avatar
    davey49

    Netrun- I pay 330 a month for my poorly financed ION. $330 x 72= 23760
    $330 x 120= 39600 Are we going to see 10 year loans?

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    One of the major network news programs is going to have a story about the “Death of the Suburbs”.

    Should TTAC start a Death Watch for Suburbs?

  • avatar
    Ryan

    DetN Burgess: Aspen HEMI Hybrid “Is a Fine SUV.” Or Not.

    Not…

    Just like 95% of the Chrysler line up it will continue to fail in sales numbers too.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Americans may switch to smaller cars, but it’s only because they have to; not because they want to.

    Well, he is right on that point. If gas had still cost $2/gallon there’d be a lot more of these things around…with Detroit still getting fat off the profits but lets face it. Gas prices determine what (most) people drive, even if the vehicle in question is used for its more relevant purpose (I always questioned the purpose of an Escalade over a more reasonably priced Tahoe…but then again, it’s the same reason why the Escalade exists…gas was cheap!).

    I for one, never saw myself in any of these vehicles (except when I eventually earn enough to get a boat, in which case a nicely equipped Frontier would suffice) but then again maybe I’m one of the few sensible ones.

    Disclaimer: I also see the Dodge Challenger [SRT-8] as a nice retirement gift.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    The hardest thing for me to believe is why hybrid up a load like this that is supposed to be discontinued at the end of ’09. My understanding is that the Newark, DE plant (where this svelte beauty is built) closes at the end of the ’09 with no follow-on product and there are no model replacement plans (thankfully) for Durango and its unwanted/unneeded sibling Aspen.

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