Used Wheels Review: 2007 to 2011 Dodge Nitro
October 3, 2012
Model:2007 to 2011 Dodge Nitro
Nitro brought Dodge’s presence to the utility vehicle scene occupied by models like the Nissan Rogue and Hyundai Santa Fe. Driver-selectable four-wheel drive, plenty of ground clearance and a solid rear axle made this a family-ready ute that could handle towing and off-road use with ease.
Trim levels started with ‘SE’ for a ‘basic’ Nitro, with SXT, SLT and R/T filling the model range from less to more loaded. Feature content included a slide-out cargo tray in the trunk, heated leather, premium audio, a household power outlet, a sunroof, automatic climate control and plenty more.
Nitro packed standard V6 power, namely from a 3.7 or 4.0 litre V6 making 210 or 255-260 horsepower, respectively. Though rare, a manual transmission was available on some models. Automatics were fitted otherwise. Nitro is similar in configuration to the new-generation Jeep Liberty, because they share the same platform and powertrain lineup.
What Owners Like
Nitro owners rate ride, handling, flexibility, confidence, and all-season traction highly. The upgraded stereo is well liked, as is the styling and overall ‘bang for the buck’ where feature content is concerned.
What Owners Dislike
Common complaints include limited footwell space, limited headroom for taller drivers, and a long reach for the gear shifter.
On a model with the automatic transmission, be sure to ‘feel’ for any signs of slippage or a ‘shudder’ at lower speeds and under light loads—which could indicate a problem with the transmission or torque converter itself, or the computer that controls the gearbox. If the transmission exhibits any of these symptoms, be sure to have the vehicle checked by a professional. Additionally, some owners have reported transmission or torque converter replacement under warranty.
Get your used Nitro candidate in the air on a hoist, and have a mechanic inspect for signs of oil leakage, particular around the rear of the oil pan, and at the rear differential. Be sure any leaks are remedied ahead of your purchase. This is also the ideal time to uncover any damage caused by careless off-roading.
Sporadic idle, hesitation during acceleration or other driveability issues could be caused by the engine computer or any number of sensors that feed information to it. A ‘scan’ of the engine computer by a Dodge mechanic can reveal any potential issues with the Nitro’s electronic brain.
Check the ceiling liner and front footwells for signs of moisture that could be caused by a leaky sunroof (if equipped) and note any unwelcomed sounds or sensations coming from the front-end while travelling over bumps. Any clunking or ‘popping’ sounds likely indicate a worn-out suspension component.
Finally, check for proper operation of the power door locks, both from the interior switch and remote.
Unique styling, good driving dynamics and a high degree of capability and utility are likely the largest draws to the Nitro as a used buy. But like any used ride, it’s not without its issues. Seek the advice and approval of a trained Dodge mechanic ahead of your purchase.