San Francisco: Parents
of teenagers will hate hearing this. So will corporate auditors,
preachers, tax accountants and federal prosecutors. But sometimes - just
sometimes - a person has to break the rules if they want to succeed.
The Chrysler group had
a couple of rules in place for years that were followed with a religious
fervor: One, the Dodge brand is supposed to be sporty and
performance-oriented. And two, the company's rugged, all-American Jeeps,
which are engineered to cross the Rubicon Trail, can't share their
platforms with any other brands.
While these rules kept
the Dodge and Jeep brands relatively intact, they also had an unintended
consequence. Dodge was left with just one SUV in its lineup - the
Durango - while virtually every other brand in the world added SUVs like
they were gold chains in a rap video. Even when Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and
Porsche figured out that SUVs were more than a fad, poor Dodge was left
with one piddling 4x4 as recently as 2006.
Then came the Dodge
Like a classic James
Dean character, it comes onto the scene as Chrysler's bad boy, the SUV
that breaks all the rules. For one, it shows that Dodge is giving up its
pretension of being "sporty," because SUVs are about as far from sports
cars as you can get. And two, it's the first vehicle to blatantly steal
from the cathedral of Jeep.
The Nitro is
essentially a Jeep Liberty stretched four inches and fitted with a boxy
body. Some would say the Nitro, with its militarized, Hummer-like shape,
looks even more like a Jeep than the cute Liberty. Not surprisingly, it
also drives exactly like a Jeep, with a bouncy, firm ride, high seating
position and heavy feel.
I had a hard time
remembering the Nitro's brand. Whenever someone would ask me about it,
I'd think, "It's not a Jeep ... it's not a Jeep.... it's not a Jeep ...
what is this thing again? ... Oh yeah ... a Dodge."
If my wife asked which
car I was taking to the store, I'd always blurt out "The Jeep." But the
Nitro is a Dodge, and a darned good one at that. It looks fantastic, so
it'll probably find plenty of buyers based on the body alone. It drives
just as nicely as its tried-and-true Jeep sibling, and its got off-road
credentials to boot.
Also, because it's
longer than the Liberty, it's a bit more practical, too. It has a huge
cargo area with a cool feature called the "Load 'n Go Floor." Basically,
the cargo floor is like a huge shelf that can slide forward and then
back again, making it easier to load with big boxes.
It also has some
innovative entertainment options. Yes, its stereo can play MP3 discs,
and an optional upgrade includes a 20-gigabyte hard drive for storing
music and photos, all of which are available via a touch-screen control
and via voice commands.
Two nice V6 engines are
offered: a 3.7liter that makes 210 horsepower, and a 4.0-liter that
cranks out 260 horses. Personally, I'd choose the smaller engine because
it's smoother and more efficient, but the bigger V6 is better for
lead-foot acceleration and some light-duty towing.
On the downside, the
Nitro suffers from the same cheap-feeling interior parts as the Liberty.
It looks nice enough, but when you run your hands across the dash and
over all the buttons, it feels hollow and fragile, which isn't the
sensation you want to get from a new car. It should feel solid, like it
will last for decades in the sun, but instead it feels like something
you'd buy in the clearance toy bin at Dollar General.
Nonetheless, I bet the
Nitro will be another big hit for Dodge, which is already the Chrysler
group's best-selling brand. It drives well, looks fantastic and is
practical and comfortable. And it only exists because someone at
Chrysler decided to break the rules.
tested? The 2007 Dodge Nitro SLT 4x4 with a
base price of $24,145. Options included: Performance tires ($100). Price
as tested including a $660 destination charge: $24,945.
Maybe Hummer should get
their trademark lawyers on the phone. The new Dodge Nitro has a boxy,
militarized stance not unlike the small Hummers for sale today.
Why avoid it?
Parts of the interior feel cheap and flimsy, and neither of the V6
engines get particularly great gas mileage.
Like its sibling, the
Jeep Liberty, the Nitro has an interior that looks good but feels cheap.
It's more practical and innovative than the Liberty, though, with
several entertainment and storage features that aren't available on
Why buy it?
It's like the Jeep Liberty, only better. It looks great, drives well and
comes with some innovative entertainment and storage features. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Dodge Home Page
Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The Nitro writes a new rulebook
Topic: The 2007 Dodge Nitro SLT 4x4
Word Count: 868
Photo Caption: The 2007 Dodge Nitro SLT 4x4
Photo Credits: Dodge Nitro Internet Media
Series #: 2007-17
the Microsoft Word version here:
2007 Dodge Nitro SLT
Download the Original Image File here:
2007 Dodge Nitro SLT