2007 Dodge Nitro Midsize SUV
What Edmunds.com Says:
The good looking Nitro leaves the dirt to the import SUVs and focuses on the street, a smart move that should pay off.
What We Know:
Dodge calls the 2007 Nitro its first midsize SUV, but when you look at the numbers they don't add up: a 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity, just over 65 cubic feet of maximum cargo and a base V6 with only 210 horsepower. Those aren't midsize numbers. The fact is the Nitro isn't a midsize, it's a compact SUV. Dodge probably thinks "compact" sounds too feminine for an SUV geared to attract more men than women so it's sticking with midsize. The company needn't worry, the Nitro's styling and hardware speak for itself. Although it's built on the same platform as the Jeep Liberty, the Nitro was engineered primarily for street use. Four-wheel drive will be an option, but there's no low-range gearing or big off-road tires. In fact, the top-of-the-line R/T model comes standard with 20-inch wheels and low-profile 50-series tires. They're part of the R/T's standard performance-suspension package, which includes revised springs, shocks, bushings and sway bars. Like the Liberty, the Nitro uses a solid-axle-rear/independent-front suspension configuration, but the Nitro's rack and pinion steering was tuned for quicker response and better road feel. The Nitro offers two solid V6s. Base and SLT models get a 3.7-liter with 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, while the R/T gets a 4.0-liter six with 255 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. There are three transmissions: a six-speed manual which comes standard in the base model, a four-speed automatic (standard in the midlevel SLT and optional in the base Nitro), and a five-speed automatic which only comes with the R/T's 4.0-liter V6. On base models equipped with the manual, choosing four-wheel drive means an electronically controlled part-time system while all automatics use a full-time four-wheel-drive system that splits power 40/60 front-to-rear. At 178 inches, the Nitro is about 4 inches longer than the Jeep Liberty and 10 inches shorter than Chevrolet's Equinox. Rear legroom in the Nitro is slightly better than the Liberty, but still falls short of the Chevy by a couple of inches. A new Load and Go system — standard on SLT and R/T models — slides in and out of the cargo area for easier loading of the 32 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. The Nitro will offer premium features like a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, remote start, DVD navigation and a premium sound system. Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, side curtain airbags and electronic roll mitigation.