Review: 2007 Dodge Nitro
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Some might call the tough-looking new Dodge Nitro a crossover vehicle because of such things as its car-like feel and trim exterior dimensions, but it's a pure SUV based on the softer-looking Jeep Liberty.
Generally, most guys might tend to get a Nitro, while the majority of gals might go for the Liberty.
Dodge dealers probably threw a party when the Nitro was introduced because it finally gives them a midsize SUV that is smaller and more fuel-thrifty than the Dodge Durango SUV.
Not a Fuel Champ
Estimated Nitro fuel economy varies with its engine and drive setup and ranges from 17-18 mpg in the city to 21-24 mpg on the highway. The Nitro weighs approximately 4,000 pounds, so sparkling fuel economy shouldn't be expected.
The Nitro's squared-off styling provides good room for four tall adults, or five in a pinch, besides a large cargo area.
Nitro list prices range from $19,225 to $26,970. The entry version is the SXT, which comes with rear-wheel drive or part- or full-time 4-wheel drive. The midrange SLT has rear-wheel drive and also part- or full-time all-wheel drive. The top-line R/T has the same drive setups as the SXT and SLT.
The 3.7 only needs 87-octane fuel. The 4.0-liter engine can use 87-octane, but Dodge recommends 89-octane gasoline for the best performance.
The Nitro can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the 4.0-liter V6 and a trailer tow package.
The SXT is fairly well-equipped, with front bucket seats, console, air conditioning, tilt wheel, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, fold-flat front passenger seat and split-folding rear seat, rear wiper/washer and power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry.
Controversial Cargo Tray
I'm no fan of that tray. For one thing, it raises the cargo floor height. For another, it doesn't affect general loading and unloading much, although it can be used as a temporary table. The tray is one of those items that helps sell a vehicle in a showroom but ends up seldom being used by most folks, who must put up with its disadvantages.
Among the many options are an $850 power sunroof, $730 leather upholstery (with heated front seats) for the R/T, $1,250 DVD entertainment system and $195 satellite radio.
The $395 running boards are a good idea because the Nitro floor is rather high and thus calls for extra effort to get in.
The 3.7 V6 provides lively in-town acceleration, but ho-hum 65-75 mph passing times. The 4.0-liter engine provides stronger highway performance.
Outside door handles have pushbutton operation, which some will like and others will find bothersome. (Put me in the latter camp.) Inside door handles are more stylish than practical.
Front cupholders are nicely placed in the console, but rear cupholders are put near the floor behind the front seats; they thus require an awkward reach, especially for passengers with shorter arms.
The small storage area atop the dashboard can be handy for holding tollway change and such, but has no cover to prevent objects in it from falling out during sudden stops. The glove compartment is small, but the center console bin is deep.
Large Cargo Area
The Nitro should be a success, with its standout appearance, general performance and versatility. Despite the rush to crossover vehicles, it shows that midsize SUVs can be appealing.