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Chrysler's little sibling rivalry

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The Dodge Nitro compact SUV moves into its second year for 2008 with some heady competition — from its own parent company.

Introduced just last fall, the Nitro actually is a version of the redesigned Jeep Liberty that arrives this fall. Both are Chrysler products.

But as Jeep dealers roll out the Liberty, Dodge dealers want consumers to remember that the Nitro is available, too, and might be a better choice for consumers who aren't really into the kind of off-road activities that Jeep owners enjoy.

Despite their common underpinnings, the Nitro and redesigned Liberty aren't expected to compete against each other. Chrysler says they are aimed at different consumers.

That's probably so, as there are key differences between the Nitro and new Liberty besides their overall styling and the fact that each carries the signature grille of its respective brand.

The Nitro has an optional all-wheel-drive system, but no low-range gearing for serious off-road use. But the Liberty offers a choice of two off-road-capable four-wheel drive systems and is Jeep "trail-rated" with either of those. The Nitro is not intended for rugged trails; although with its H3-like styling, it looks as though it should be.

The target consumer group for the Nitro also is the same as the rest of the compact segment. "We're aiming for young singles and young couples just starting out," Zarowitz said.

Goals for the design of the Nitro, he said, were to make it "assertive rather than aggressive, and masculine but not macho."

"To design it, we went back to our heritage," he said, specifically the 1999 Dodge Power Wagon concept vehicle, a truck whose front-end design is similar to the Nitro's.

Finally a well written article about our Nitro !!! Thanks go to the San Antonio Express-News

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