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2007 Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4 Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2007 Dodge Nitro

THE AUTO PAGE
by
JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS
Model:  Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4
Engine: 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 255 hp @ 5800 rpm/275 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm 
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase: 108.8 in.
Length x Width x Height: 178.9 x 73.1 x 69.9 in.
Tires: P235/65R17
Cargo volume: 65.2 cu. ft. (max.)
Economy: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/15.1 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gal.
Price: $30,455 (includes $660 destination charge and $5,640 in options)

The Bottom Line Like the Jeep Liberty upon which it is based, the Nitro has a square design, is rough riding and has a rough engine. But like the Liberty and the Hummer, it gives you the feeling it can go anywhere.

The Dodge Nitro fits in the niche just below the Durango and above the Jeep Liberty, from which it is derived. Nitro looks more Jeep-ish than Dodge-ish, although it does have the requisite cross-hatch grille of all dodges.

Nitro is classified as a midsize, but it’s smaller than all but the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Endeavor and Subaru Tribeca. Cargo capacity is limited as well, with dimensions closer to the Liberty than anything else. But the squared-off design does allow seating for four adults.

Our tester came with the optional 4.0-liter single overhead cam V6 that delivered 255 horsepower. This was more than adequate, especially when it was linked with the 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. The engine and transmission were a good match, although we found the engine to be rough. It was noisy and had a lot of vibration.

We had a chance to drive the Nitro in some snow and found it handles the white stuff reasonably well. We used the manual mode often in the snow as well as four-wheel drive high.

Nitro was also difficult on entering and exiting. It isn’t that the Nitro is that tall, it just seemed difficult when we were trying to get in it.

Once we did get in, the seats were flat and hard and there was tight footroom up front due to the space taken up by the transfer case. It reminded me of some of the older sport utility vehicles with their large center humps.

Rear seat legroom was very good for two passengers.

Once seated, the shift lever seemed far away from the driver. Since you usually don’t shift that often, unless it’s with the manual mode, this isn’t a major problem, and we did become accustomed to it.

We had a good audio system and an excellent HVAC system that delivered warm air in bitter cold weather.

The driving experience is decent once you’re ensconce din the seats. There’s a nice instrument panel with three major round gauges. For storage, there’s a tray in the center stack above the audio system and a pair of cupholders for front passengers. The lighted visor mirrors were better lit than most. In addition, the center console has a removable tray that makes it more useful.

The rear seat backs fold to create more than 65 cubic feet of storage. In addition, there’s a “load n Go” rear tray system that slides out to expose flat storage in the rear. While there’s a decent amount of carrying capacity with the rear seat up, the load n Go helps make it more useful.

While the Dodge Nitro has good blood lines and a healthy helping of Jeep DNA, it still seems like a rough vehicle that was rushed to the marketplace. It has possibilities, but they weren’t evident in our tester.

© 2007 The Auto Page Syndicate