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Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango Hybrid Prototype Quick Drive

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The HEMI hybrid

I will admit that this sounds more like a joke or an oxymoron but it is in fact true. Chrysler engineers have combined a 2-mode hybrid system with the brand's famous HEMI 5.7L V8. Here is a strange thought. Imagine the big and bad Durango taking off from a light... without making a single sound...

The Durango and Aspen hybrids that were made available to us for the short drive were actually the first versions of the prototypes (this is the first time in Chrysler's history that they have ever allowed media people the opportunity to drive such an early model). Essentially, we would normally have had the chance to test a Hybrid at least two "versions" older, or more evolved. My guess is that since both trucks are well-established, they had little to worry about.

The few minutes at the wheel of the Durango revealed a very quiet drive and seamless transitions between modes. At any moment, the throttle pedal could be mashed with only an extremely minor delay in response (which should be addressed before the vehicle goes into production). Overall, the Durango felt exactly as a Durango should.

A 2-mode hybrid is one that can run on full-electric or through a combined gas-electric mode. Chrysler has mated this technology with their patented MDS (Multi Displacement System) in order to maximize fuel economy without sacrificing the HEMI's legendary power. The MDS programming on the hybrid differs from the usual in that it can also work at low engine speeds when load is limited. This basically means that steady city cruising will have the powertrain working gas-electric on only 4 cylinders.