Dodge Nitro Review:
Dodgeís Nitro, the brandís first midsized SUV, features a macho,
sharp-edged design. Since its debut in 2007, I have always wondered who
would buy one. A Sunburst Orange Pearl Coat Nitro came my way from the
press fleet, so I got a chance to find out.
Well, as Gomer Pyle
would say, ďSurprise, Surprise.Ē I liked it. Was it my need for a public
demonstration of my manliness? Well, no. It was more about how the car
drove and performed on a day-to-day basis.
Essentially a Jeep
Liberty in Dodge clothing, the Nitro, built in Toledo, Ohio, has a
chunky, solid, quality feeling. This is why people bought SUVs in the
first place. For the off-road capability, a tall command-of-the-road
driving position, and lots of cargo capacity.
The Nitroís part-time
four-wheel-drive system I canít say much about because I didnít need it.
You select it with a center console switch. I sampled it once in a dirt
area and it felt locked into place.
With its flat, upright
windshield, shallow instrument panel, and tall, chair height seats,
thereís an old-fashioned feeling to the Nitro. It reminds me of the
beloved original Jeep Cherokee, but thereís nothing out-of-date in the
way it actually works.
The seats wore a
sturdy, stain-repellent, odor-resistant orange cloth that matched the
cheerful exterior. I regretted the lack of a left foot dead pedal
(footrest), but quickly realized that sitting tall eliminated the need
From that spot, I
surveyed a carefully styled interior of modest materials, lots of slate
gray plastic relieved by shiny trim sections. A three-pod gauge cluster
pops up out of the horizontal, hard-edged instrument panel. A circle
motif shows up in those gauges, and also the interior door handles and
speakers, among other places.
After a couple of days,
everything felt right inside the Nitro, comfortable, familiar and easy
to find, and I developed a fondness that I didnít see coming.
Two special features
enhance cargo capacity. The front passenger seat folds down flat, so
carrying long objects completely inside the car is easy. Out back, the
Load ĎN Go cargo floor slides out 18 inches to accommodate up to 400
pounds of gear. This is a lifesaver for your back.
The Nitro comes in
three flavors, SE, SLT, and R/T. All wear the familiar Dodge crosshair
grille with bold chrome ramís head logo. The entry-level SE gets 16-inch
steel wheels, power folding mirrors, and some things you might not
expect in the entry-level model, such as traction control, electronic
stability control, tire pressure monitoring and SiriusXM satellite
The SLT gives you
17-inch wheels, a six-way power driverís seat, power and heated mirrors,
chrome interior accents and some other goodies. The R/T adds a
performance suspension, massive 20-inch wheels and tires and numerous
exterior enhancements for maximum appeal.
All models come with a
3.7-liter V6. This engine puts out a respectable 210 horsepower and 235
lb.-ft. of torque through a four-speed automatic transmission. The R/T
offers an optional 4.0-liter, 260-horsepower V6 with 265 lb.-ft. of
torque running through five gears. My tester had it, and there was no
problem moving the 4,200-pound Nitro along briskly with it.
The EPA gives the Nitro
mileage ratings of 16 City, 20 Highway with four-wheel drive, 16 and 21
with two-wheel drive. The car gets a decent 6 for Air Pollution in the
EPAís Green Vehicle Guide, but a disappointing 3 (4wd) or 4 (2wd) for
Greenhouse Gases. The Nitro is not the Sierra Clubís fleet vehicle of
But I loved the Nitroís
navigation system. One day I entered a destination and was driving along
when on the screen appeared this message:
ROUTE IS BEING
RECALCULATED DUE TO TRAFFIC INFORMATION.
feature helped me make better time by routing me a back way I hadnít
considered using before, based on congestion on the usual route.
A couple of days later,
on a different road, the system again indicated an unexpected way to go.
I was very tempted to ignore the directions, but decided that it had
earned my respect. Once again, I saved a significant amount of time and
aggravation. I just followed the directions, which appeared graphically
and were spoken clearly by a pleasant female voice.
Dodge Nitros start at
$22,985 for the SE, including destination charges. The SLT starts at
$25,505 and the R/T at $28,480. My test vehicle, with a raft of extras,
came to $33,355 on the MSRP window sticker.
There are concerns
about Chryslerís viability now. Despite some historical quality lapses
and two changes of ownership in recent years, the 85-year-old company is
still building a lot of vehicles, and Iíd hate to see it disappear.
Chrysler is offering serious deals now, so you should be able to drive
home a Dodge Nitro for much less than the prices in the previous
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Dodge Nitro Review
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Dodge Home Page
Column Name: Nitro
feels comfortable, familiar and easy to drive
Topic: The 2009 Dodge
Word Count: 878
Photo Caption: The
2009 Dodge Nitro
Photo Credits: Dodge
Nitro Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 35
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2009 Dodge Nitro
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