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Dodge Nitro Forum
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
December 2006

First Look: 2007 Dodge Nitro
Macho new SUV lacks spark



Overview: Dodge has launched its late entry into the small-SUV class with the Nitro, which draws heavily from the Jeep Liberty platform. Longer than the Jeep, the Nitro will face off against established six-cylinder competitors, such as the Ford Escape, Nissan Xterra, and Suzuki Grand Vitara, with a bold appearance and available on-road performance package.

The Nitro comes in three trim lines: SXT, SLT, and the sportier R/T. Each trim is available with either two- or four-wheel drive. Antilock brakes, electronic stability control, and side-curtain air bags are all standard. The base SXT with a six-speed manual transmission starts at about $21,000 with popular equipment. Each Nitro is available with a part-time 4WD system that adds about $1,500. The R/T has a different powertrain--a 260-hp, 4.0-liter V6 mated to a five-speed automatic--a full-time four-wheel drive system, and large 20-inch wheels. A loaded R/T brushes past $30,000. We bought a typically equipped mid-trim SLT 4WD, with a $28,875 sticker price.


Initial impressions: The Nitro has eye-catching looks, with a huge Dodge brand-signature crosshair grille and a tough-looking, boxy shape. (The wide front-fender flares might remind some people of the old Dodge Power Wagon or recent concept vehicle of the same name.) Beneath the squarish sheet metal, the Nitro has Jeep-sourced components that include a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V6 and live rear axle. That setup never impressed us with its performance or ride in the Liberty, and it doesn't work better here. It only takes a few miles of driving to uncover flaws, with the most obvious being the relentlessly noisy engine and a stiff, bumpy ride. On the highway the ride becomes floaty. Engine power is adequate, but a driver must prod it to keep up the pace. Vague steering and notable body lean leaves the handling less than agile.

Most SUVs in this class have a permanent all-wheel-drive system but lack the low-range gearing used in tough off-road situations. But the Nitro SXT and SLT have only a part-time system, activated by a switch next to the gear selector. Such a part-time 4x4 setup is not well-suited to dry pavement. Yet there is no low-range gearing, something other part-time systems usually have. In practice, the SLT doesn't benefit from a full-time system optimized for slippery road conditions, nor possesses the capability to traverse tough off-road terrain.


The interior has a spartan appearance and an abundance of cheap-feeling, hard plastics. Most controls are easy to see and use except for the awkward on-board computer. The power windows, locks, and mirrors controls (courtesy of corporate-partner Mercedes-Benz) work well, a welcomed improvement over the Liberty's console-mounted switches. The front seats are reasonably comfortable, but the foot wells are very narrow and there's no good place for the driver's left foot. The split rear seats are low to the floor, and the cushions are too short fore and aft, compromising thigh support.

Unlike the Liberty, the Nitro has a rear hatch that opens up, rather than sideways. The cargo bay has a sliding floor that you can pull outward up to 18 inches to help load and unload heavy items. That so-called "lock and load" cargo floor has a 400-pound capacity, and it is conducive to an impromptu tailgate party. With the optional tow package, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds--a lot for this class. Stability control and side curtain air bags are standard.

The Nitro lacks the refinement of most car-based SUVs and isn't equipped for serious off-roading. Ultimately, its main appeal is the unusual styling. We'll see where the Nitro stands among the models in this expanding SUV category when we have a full report in the May 2007 issue of Consumer Reports and on ConsumerReports.org in April.
 

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consumer reports

I just received the APR 07 issue, and found a couple Nitro mentions
*page 10 'Best and Worst' shows Nitro under the Most Disappointing heading
along with Caliber and Compass, Toyota Yaris and Sebring. 'Nitro- based on the Liberty, the bold, distincive styling of this SUV will undoubtedly win over some buyers. But with vague steering, ungainly handling, unsettled ride, limited visibility, and a cheap-looking interior, the Nitro falls short of the Liberty. Both lack the refinement of most car based SUVs.'
*page 29 Safety Features. Nitro is rated excellent in front and side crash tests, but is rated in the middle for roll-overs
*page 42 ratings. Nitro is rated 2nd to last (Wrangler is last) overall in the small suv class. Accident avoidance -middle score. Predicted reliablility and Owner satisfaction -new. MPG -16. Highs -not much. Lows -ride, handling, noise, fuel economy, fit and finish.
*page 54. Theres a pic of the tested red SLT. In addition to the above stuff - '...pronounced body lean and vague steerinig...stiff and snappy ride and the front end can become bouyant on the highway...footwells are extremely narrow...4wd system lacks low range...standard equip includes electronic stability control and curtain aribags...the extendable cargo floor is a nice feature, but overall the Nitro is unimpressive.' Acceleration 0-60: 9.1 seconds Braking 60-0: 142 feet.
Overall, consumer reports doesn't care for it, but we love our Nitro!
 

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Dodge Nitro Forum
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
*page 42 ratings. Nitro is rated 2nd to last (Wrangler is last) overall in the small suv class. Accident avoidance -middle score. Predicted reliablility and Owner satisfaction -new. MPG -16. Highs -not much. Lows -ride, handling, noise, fuel economy, fit and finish...

Overall, consumer reports doesn't care for it, but we love our Nitro!
I test drove the Vitara, Compass and Escape before driving the Nitro. Quiet ride, handled well, loved the looks of it. I'm with you Bomb, we love our Nitro too.
 

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Dodge Nitro Forum
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Consumer Reports? They listed my '88 Dakota as a vehicle to avoid for several years. The thing's never been in the shop except for wheel alignments. It's currently got 280,000 miles on it and still going. I don't put much faith into their vehicle ratings.
 

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Consumer Reports on Nitro

I saw a consumer report magazine where they completely dis the Nitro. They state that the mileage was only 16mpg, that the interior fit is poor, and the performance is sluggish.

Having driven mine for a few months now, I am very happy as a whole with the Nitro. My mileage is never less than 18.5, even in town. The interior could be better, but I still like it just fine. As to performance, I traded a G35 sports coupe for my Nitro, and so far don't have a problem with performance. I get away from the red lights just fine!
 

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Consumer Idiots

In my opinion the seats are the most comfortable I have had since my 89 Saab 9000, actually my 91 Bonneville SSE ( and that had more seat control buttons than a jet fighter you could spend hours fooling with them) and cheep plastics,try a Honda interior its made from old play school toys. I could go on but we all know that they are American car haters. CR :loser1:
 
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