The Dodge Nitro is a compact SUV which was available for five model years from 2007 to 2012. As a close variant of the Jeep Liberty, the full-length frame rails were integrated into the body structure on this internationally-marketed SUV, available in both left and right hand drive models.
Dodge Nitro Introduction
Exterior looks were on the bold and aggressive side, matched by brushed silver and chrome accents inside. Interior space was maximized with storage space and an innovative rear slide-out to make handling cargo easier. Dodge did its best to market the Nitro as a mid-size SUV, but the 65 cubic feet of cargo space and 210 horsepower base-model engine showed it was a better fit with its compact-SUV competitors. The 5,000 pound max tow rating of the Dodge Nitro was a bit above the class, however.
V-6 Engine and Transmission Options
The three models offered included the Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T. All were available as two-wheel or four-wheel drive versions. The base Nitro and Nitro SLT received a 3.7L V-6 engine with 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. With a focus on low range power and minimal engine noise, this trusted Chrysler engine was meant to handle daily demands with ease. The base model had the option of a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the SLT came exclusively with the four-speed automatic. Those who went for the top-tier Nitro R/T received a robust 4.0L V-6 engine producing 255 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, and this model came with a unique five-speed automatic. Once again, this engine was geared for low and mid range power while adding many features focused on keeping the engine noise to a minimum.
Safety and Comfort Features
The Dodge Nitro did its best to incorporate a vast amount of options into a compact SUV platform. For safety, the Nitro included an electronic stability program, anti-lock brakes, and side-curtain airbags. One of the defining and innovative features of the Dodge Nitro was the LOAD ’N GO™ rear cargo floor, standard on the SLT and R/T models. With a maximum capacity of 400 pounds, this drawer-like feature slid 18” out of the rear compartment to make loading and unloading the cargo area easier. Other available internal options included DVD-based navigation and rear-entertainment systems, premium speakers, remote start, and Sirius satellite radio. Brushed silver base-model accent and chrome features in the higher models were speckled throughout the interior cabin for a premium look. Leather seats were also available in the SLT and R/T models.
Exterior Bold Styling
The focal point of the Dodge Nitro’s exterior design was the bold crosshair grille in front. Strong lines, a rectangular hood, and high lines along each side added to the aggressive look. Those who really wanted to catch attention could go for Sunburst Orange or Electric Blue exterior paint colors. The wheels were placed close to each bumper, leading to short overhangs and a more capable look. Combined with the available four-wheel drive, perhaps this SUV could be taken more seriously as an off-road vehicle, similar to its Jeep counterpart. An independent front suspension was paired with a solid five-link rear suspension, including upper and lower trailing links and rack bar. The Nitro SLT and R/T models came with upgraded suspension, shocks, sway bars, and 20” wheels for improved handling and performance.
Although the Dodge Nitro brought a lot to the table and strived to be an innovative, capable SUV, its popularity never blossomed. Selling around 200,000 units over its five-year lifetime, the Nitro was never known as incredibly reliable, purposeful, or special. Simply put, it didn’t really ever take off and was discontinued as the sales figures showed that to be the case.