A newly reworked 4.7L V8, now making 303 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, is standard and a 5.7L Hemi V8, making 335 horsepower and 370 lb-ft, is optional. The 4.7L will now run on blends of ethanol and gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol (E85), and the 5.7L benefits from the Multi-Displacement System, which only runs four of the cylinders to save fuel when less power is needed.
Aspens equipped with the 4.7L engine and AWD get a single-speed transfer-case system, while Hemi AWD models get a low range good for creeping up steep off-road inclines or boat ramps, or getting through sand. Both systems have a 2WD mode, and they revert to a 48/52-percent split front/back in AWD mode.
The Aspen's truck-based underpinnings are closely related to those of the Dodge Durango. It rides on a stiff hydroformed frame, and has an independent front suspension and solid rear axle with coil springs, combined with a Watt linkage, which helps in roadholding.
Inside, the Aspen is oriented more toward passenger comfort that bare-bones utility. Standard features include wood accents, air conditioning, a garage door opener, front and rear LED lamps, a CD sound system, and a rear power outlet. Eight can be seated comfortably with the standard layout, which includes a second-row bench seat and a 60/40-split folding third-row seat, but there's also an optional seven-passenger layout with second-row bucket seats.
Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side air bags, and roll-sensing side-curtain air bags.
The Signature Series, which is promoted as a limited-edition model, is essentially a feature-rich option package that brings a long list of additional equipment at a low price. Features include 18-inch chrome-clad wheels, two-tone leather seating, first-row heated seats, a power sunroof, the MyGig entertainment system, a backup camera, and Sirius satellite radio. The Signature Series is only available in Bright Silver, Brilliant Black, Steel Blue, Light Sandstone, or Cognac exterior colors.
Other major options include heated second-row seats, full leather upholstery, a power memory driver's seat, a back-seat DVD entertainment system, and several flashy wheel designs, including huge chrome-clad 20-inchers.