The Nitro will have looks and power going for it, in spades, so it should compete just fine as long as you like that famously aggressive Dodge look. Scheduled to go on sale late in 2006 as a 2007 model, the Nitro is based on the Jeep Liberty.
Designers at Dodge have carried over the grille, lines and stance throughout the lineup, and have done an especially nice job with the Nitro. The SUV has a strong roofline, flared fenders and a front that ends like a cliff, into the Dodge grille. In red, black, or another bold color, the Nitro will look great – but maybe a little odd in softer tones. Three models will be available: the Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT, and the Dodge Nitro R/T. Nitro and SLT buyers get a 3.7-liter, V6 engine that delivers 210 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 235 lb. ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Nitro R/T buyers will get the added grunt and displacement of a 4.0-liter, 255 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, and 275 lb. ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. One manual and two automatic transmissions will be offered; the base Nitro will come standard with a six-speed manual, the Nitro SLT is fitted with a four-speed automatic, and the Nitro R/T will feature a five-speed automatic. This menu of powertrains will drive an SUV that weights slightly more than 4,000 lbs. and is built with an independent front and solid axle rear suspension, and a full-time 4WD system.
Inside, the feel is very utilitarian, with strong plastics and fabric throughout. The metal that’s in the cab is brushed aluminum, and the layout is one of simplicity and function. There’s even large plastic inserts on the back of the front seats, and a cascade of plastics up front. Innovations inside the 2007 Dodge Nitro include a “Load n’ Go cargo floor, which is essentially a sliding floor that moves out to just beyond the rear bumper.
Photos by Ron Perry