All-American retro Nitro
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
On the road
All-American retro Nitro
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
Being square in the midst of today’s sleek, rounded, aerodynamic cars may seem like retrogressing, but it does give one the advantage of standing out from the rest of the crowd. Compared with the flowing, curving contours of other SUVs like the Mazda CX-7 and Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2011 Dodge Nitro is defiantly boxy, chiseled and in-your-face macho with its cross-hair grille and angular lines.
Clearly, the five-seater Nitro with its aggressively masculine look is no mom mobile or a cushy, practical family SUV. Built on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the Jeep Liberty, the Nitro weighs 4,340 pounds and with its 20-inch aluminum platinum-clad wheels and 245/50 R20 tires requires some effort to steer and park. The first driving impression you get when you take the wheel is that the Nitro is extraordinarily massive. At least, that’s the first impression I got driving the Nitro, but it could be because I weigh only 114 lbs.
Just to give you an idea, in the United States, its country of origin, the Nitro is categorized as a compact SUV while over here, it is classified as a midsize SUV. Maybe it’s because Americans are generally physically bigger than us Filipinos and thus perceive the Nitro as small.
Anyway, after a while, you get used to the Nitro’s heft and discover that its 3.7-liter SOHC V6 engine, capable of producing 205 hp and 314 Nm of torque, is powerful enough to keep it going strong whatever the road and weather conditions. In fact, the V6 engine is so robust that the Nitro can haul 3,500 pounds, which is recognized as best-in-class towing ability.
On the other hand, the Nitro’s drivetrain lacks refinement, the ride is more trucklike than carlike and fuel economy is below par. Consumer Reports rates it at 16 miles per gallon (6.73 kilometers per liter.) The Nitro’s 4-speed automatic transmission, although smooth-shifting, is not conducive to fuel efficiency compared with the 6-speed AT that a few rivals already have. Despite the nicely weighted steering and performance suspension, the Nitro is not that agile, the engine gets noisy beyond 3500 rpm and handling is mostly unresponsive.
The Nitro’s interior sort of makes up for these shortcomings with excellent kitting and flawless fit and finish. The cabin is very well-equipped with leather-trimmed bucket seats, four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio controls, cruise control, sun visors with illuminated mirrors, overhead console, three rear seat head restraints. It has high-tech features such as a Media Center CD/DVD/MP3/HDD with six speakers, vehicle information center, instrument cluster with display screen, 6.5-inch Touch screen display, audio jack input for mobile devices, 12V power auxiliary outlet, rear-view auto dim mirror and tire pressure monitoring display. The gauges are large and easy to read, the controls simple, user-friendly and logically placed.
Moreover, the Nitro offers plenty of space in the front seats and adequate headroom and knee space even for six-footers in the rear seat. The reversible/waterproof cargo storage is spacious and can be expanded by folding down the 60/40 split rear seat. The driver’s seat is 6-way power adjustable. When the front passenger seat is folded flat, its molded seatback can be used as an instant utility table for a laptop and other items.
When it comes to safety features, the Dodge Nitro doesn’t skimp. It has multistage front airbags, supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist, Electronic Stability Control, All Speed Traction Control, Enhanced Accident Response System, Electronic Roll Mitigation, rear park assist system, Tip Start, multi-reflector halogen headlamp leveling system, power-heated foldaway side mirrors, aside from keyless entry with engine mobilizer, high-mounted 3-inch brake light, front and rear fog lamps.
The formidable-looking exterior is enhanced with body-color side moldings, sill applique and exaggerated fender flares, chrome accented-grille, chrome fuel filter door, chrome tubular side steps, power sunroof and SXT badge plus a more pronounced hood and front fenders.
Bottom line, the Dodge Nitro is not your run-of-the-mill SUV. It is more of a maverick, a renegade if you will, creating a veritable niche of its own. Its strengths are its head-turning, manly exterior, solid structure, robust V6 engine, array of high-tech safety features and functional interior amenities. Sporting a P1.980 million price tag, the Nitro is definitely not populist.
Nitro Year: 2007 (1 of 91,815 sold in 07)
Nitro Model: R/T 4X4 Stone White
CAT-BACK Exhaust, CAI, Projector Head Lamps
Fully-Equipped w/all factory options