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Photos: Chrysler's new full-size hybrids

CNET Reviews staff

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Like GM, Chrysler is thinking big for its hybrid lineup. The Aspen and Durango Hybrids are both motivated by a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine, which is mated to a two-mode hybrid transmission. Thanks to its low- and high-speed electronically continuously variable transmission and two AC synchronous electric motors, the Aspen can be run at low speed solely on electric power. At higher speeds, the electric motor can be used to assist the combustion engine for acceleration or towing.
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The Aspen Hybrid comes with GPS navigation and Chrysler's MyGIG hard-drive based entertainment system as standard equipment.
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According to Chrysler, the Aspen Hybrid delivers a 40 percent improvement in gas mileage in city driving over the gasoline-only Aspen, and a 25 percent increase in overall fuel economy.
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The Durango Hybrid makes use of the same HEMIN V-8 and two-mode hybrid system as that in the Aspen Hybrid, which gives it 385 horsepower. Both models also feature regenerative braking, which converts the car's kinetic braking energy into electricity that is used to recharge an onboard nickel-metal hydride battery pack.
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Despite having numerous additional components, including two electric motors and a complex transmission system, Chrysler's hybrid powertrains fit into the same space as a conventional automatic transmission.

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