Chrysler Hybrids Join GM in Fight to Save the SUV

By Editors on July 10, 2008 7:17 PM

In this day and age, the term SUV has almost become a dirty word. Once coveted by soccer moms and weekend warriors, the SUV's popularity has taken a nose-dive due to high gas prices. Chrysler has wisely seen the writing on the wall and, in an attempt to save its biggest SUVs from extinction, has joined with General Motors in developing a hybrid system for its Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango. These new hybrids are capable of doing almost everything that their gas-powered counterparts can, all while averaging 25-percent better fuel economy.

The hybrid system used in the Aspen and Durango Hybrids is similar to the one found in the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrids. However, Chrysler's version features a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 on the internal combustion side of the equation and boasts higher horsepower and torque than its GM cousins. The extra power comes in handy when heading off-road or towing a 6,000-pound trailer.

The Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango Hybrids both start around $45,000, while four-wheel-drive GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe Hybrids come in over $53,000. Even with a slightly smaller tax credit -- $1,800 for the Chryslers versus $2,200 for the GMs -- the nearly $8,000 cheaper Chrysler hybrids represent a good value for buyers looking for a more fuel-efficient way to carry lots of people and cargo. Although they use less fuel, the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen Hybrids cost several thousand dollars more than comparably-equipped gas versions, a premium that may be hard to rationalize considering it will likely take several years of fuel savings to recoup their larger initial investment. For some, rolling the added cost into financing is an easier pill to take than continuing to feel the burn with each fill-up -- especially if you have no other choice than to drive a big SUV. It is for these people that the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango Hybrids are ideal. Everyone else may want to stick to smaller, fuel-efficient cars and leave the SUV bandwagon behind them.