As tested: $43,000
Engine and transmission: 5.7-liter 345-horsepower V8, 5-speed automatic transmission (4.7-liter, 235 horsepower engine is standard)
Fuel economy: 14 city, 19 highway, 16 overall with 5,7 liter engine, slightly lower with 4.7-liter engine. (EPA estimates)
The Chrysler Aspen isn't in the same league as the Cadillac Escalade or the Lincoln Navigator. But it doesn't cost the same, either. The new Aspen is Chrysler's attempt, tragically late as it may be, to do with the Dodge Durango what Cadillac did with the Chevrolet Tahoe and Lincoln did with the Ford Expedition: Turn a work-horse SUV into a luxury palace on wheels.
The Aspen's smaller size should pay off in fuel economy and performance as well as in price. Unfortunately, it doesn't, probably because its older engineering - the Durango was last re-engineered in 2004 - has been bypassed by its recently upgraded competitors. The optional 5.7-liter Hemi engine gives good, but not great, performance. At least it doesn't hurt fuel economy compared to the much weaker standard engine. Still, it's mileage is no better than the bigger, and substantially more powerful, Escalade.
With too much emphasis on softness and not enough on keeping its heavy body under control, the Aspen has the ride quality of an overused hotel mattress. The steering is over-easy and unresponsive. Even though these are all large SUVs, the Navigator and Escalade both inspire more confidence.