2007-2011 Dodge Nitro
November 2nd, 2012 - AutoNews
Throughout the vehicle’s five-year run, it was offered with the same choice of engines.
By Glen Woodcock
The Dodge Nitro was a compact four-door SUV that went on sale in 2006 as a 2007 model, and lasted until 2011. Although badged as a Dodge, it was built on a stretched Jeep Liberty platform at Jeep’s North Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio. As a concept, Nitro was first seen at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show and featured retro styling (popularized by the Chrysler PT Cruiser) with the squared lines and flared fenders typical of cars in the 1930s.
2007 Dodge Nitro RT
2007 Dodge Nitro RT
2009 Dodge Nitro
The base Nitro came with rear-wheel drive, but part-time 4WD was available. Throughout the vehicle’s five-year run, it was offered with the same choice of engines. Base versions got a 3.7-litre V6 borrowed from Jeep that was coupled to either a six-speed stick or optional four-speed automatic. The upscale R/T model was powered by a 4.0-litre V6 mated to a five-speed automatic. Nitro sold over 70,000 units the first year, then half that number in 2008. Total sales for the last three years combined did not match the first year’s production. This means 2007 and 2008 models are easiest to find on used car lots, although newer models are better sorted out and more desirable.
THE GOOD STUFF
Traction control and side curtain airbags were standard and helped Nitro achieve the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s top five-star rating in all frontal and side impact crash tests. In summing up the new 2007 Nitro, Consumer Guide said it had “acceptable space for four adults and an impressive amount of cargo.” Some owners report that fuel economy is better with the bigger 4.0-litre engine, which also gives Nitro impressive towing prowess for a compact SUV because of its peak torque output of 275 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm. Raves from owners of 2011 models dominate the consumer ratings at Edmunds.com.
When the vehicle was new, Consumer Reports said, “It lacks agility because of pronounced body lean and vague steering.” The magazine also complained that Nitro was “very noisy” and the part-time 4WD system lacked a low range. Despite standard electronic rollover mitigation NHTSA gave Nitro a rollover resistance rating of just three stars. Most online consumer complaints seem to centre on 2007-08 models and common repair areas are with rear door handles, keyless entry, starters and check engine lights. The 2007 Nitro has had several recalls to fix items such as faulty anti-lock brake control modules, windshield wipers/washers and ABS electrical problems. Transport Canada rated the 2008 Nitro with 3.7L V6 at a thirsty 14.0 L/100km city and 9.7 highway.
RECALL: Chrysler announces recall
Consumer Reports said “overall, the Nitro is unimpressive” with a stiff ride and a front end that “can become buoyant on the highway.” Consumer Digest said “Nitro works best as a style statement.” Go for a newer model that still may have warranty remaining.
PRICES AT A GLANCE
Note: These are asking prices, not selling prices, in a cross-Canada survey using Autonet.ca.
Year Approximate price range
2007 $9,995 – $15,995
2008 $10,995 – $17,995
2009 $12,990 – $19,995
2010 $17,995 – $20,995
2011 $21,495 – $25,998
Engines: 3.7L DOHC V6 (210 hp); 4.0L SOHC V6 (260 hp)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual; 4- or 5-speed automatic
Layout: front engine/RWD or 4WD
Body: 4-door SUV