Introduced for 2007, the Dodge Nitro
SUV enters the 2008 model year with three new exterior colors and a
few new features, including rear ParkSense parking sensors. Nitro
competitors include the Nissa Xterra and Suzuki Grand Vitara.
In addition to the newly optional parking sensors, the 2008 Nitro
can also have a Trailer Sway Control System. The Convenience Group
option package includes a remote starter, ParkSense and Chrysler's
Bluetooth-based UConnect cell phone interface, while the Premium
Sound package features a six-CD audio system and a subwoofer.
The Nitro, which is related to the Jeep Liberty, features Dodge's
distinctive crosshair grille and comes in base SXT, midlevel SLT and
high-performance R/T versions. All come with a standard electronic
stability system with rollover mitigation.
Stylists apparently were aiming at a burly image for this SUV,
as the wheels, grille, hood and even door handles appear almost one
size too large for the rest of the body. Sharp, angular lines give
the vehicle a muscular, chiseled look. A high beltline makes the
greenhouse area seem smaller than on other SUVs, a feature fans of
the Dodge Magnum might like.
The Nitro, which has a 108.8-inch wheelbase, rides on standard
16-inch wheels, with 17-inchers optional. The Nitro R/T comes with
20-inch wheels, which are an option on the SLT trim level.
Cloth, YES Essentials stain-resistant fabric or leather seat
upholstery is available. The Nitro seats five in two rows, and
brushed-metal-look accents are used on the gearshift, door handles,
climate controls and center console.
Both the front passenger seat and backseat fold flat for storage. On
the Nitro SLT and R/T, a sliding cargo floor is standard to aid in
loading packages. Options include a navigation system with real-time
traffic updates and a backseat DVD video system.
Under the Hood
Dodge offers a choice of engines and transmissions on the Nitro.
The base model has a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. That engine
offers a choice of six-speed manual or four-speed automatic
transmissions and produces 235 pounds-feet of torque. The R/T model
comes with a 260-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic
transmission; it produces 265 pounds-feet of torque. Rear- and
four-wheel-drive models are offered.
The suspension is an independent design up front and a five-link,
solid-axle rear arrangement. Dodge says it's tuned to provide a
level ride when loaded or towing. As a performance driver would
expect, the R/T version features firmer springs, shocks and other
items to improve its cornering and traction.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. The Nitro adds a
traction control system that applies those brakes to wheels that
slip during acceleration to get them grabbing the road again. An
electronic stability system with rollover mitigation is also
standard, as are side curtain airbags.