$38,990 – $46,990
Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA APR 2011 Dodge Nitro. The name makes a statement – the styling makes a statement. Plus, one of the largest cargo areas with clever storage functionality, decent handling and a torquey Turbo Diesel…
Not so Good: The Petrol V6 is thirsty and lacks low-down torque. The interior fit & finish leaves a little to be desired…
Design and Engineering
Good : The macho square cut jaw of the Nitro rocked into Australia in mid ’07 – but still gets plenty of looks from pedestrians and other drivers today. The extra-pumped large circular wheelhouses look fantastic against the otherwise super-flat sides; the blunt front-end shouts “don’t mess with me!” (But thankfully could also be taken in a less-aggressive cartoon world sort of way… The team at Car Verdict are torn on the unique Nitro’s styling…)
Not so good : The extra-low front bumper looks great, but tells you that this is an SUV for the flat tarmac only; off-road fans need to head over to the Jeep brand and check out the Wrangler should they want to cover their vehicle in mud.
Interior and Styling
Good : Decent levels of space onboard for the driver and four passengers (we’re glad Dodge haven’t squeezed in an unusable 3rd row seat just for the sake of it, like a number of competitors do). The large boot offers an excellent 909L of cargo space and features a clever sliding boot floor with a hidden storage compartment underneath. When necessary, the second row seat’s fold down completely flat and the cargo space doubles to a whopping 1846 litres!
Not so good : Compared to the exterior, the inside of the Nitro is a far more sombre affair. Really only the three-pod circular driver’s instrument housing and the circular door opening handles following on from the ‘concept car’ theme. The interior plastics vary from the cheap-feeling, rock hard variety to a poor imitation of the nice-to-touch Euro soft touch plastics.
Good : The 2.8L Turbo Diesel engine produces a maximum 460Nm of torque when fitted to the five-speed automatic transmission – impressive figures for a four-cylinder engine and ensures the Diesel Nitro easily keeps up with traffic from the lights.
Not so good : 151kW & 314Nm of torque are by no way near class-leading figures for a modern Petrol V6 engine. The V6 petrol Nitro isn’t quick and combined with the poor real world fuel consumption, means we’d rather live with the Turbo Diesel. Also compared to something like Toyota’s smooth V6 in the competing Kluger, this V6 feels at least one generation behind the best.
Ride and Handling
Good : On smooth tarmac the Nitro is a relatively composed handler (especially considering it’s no featherweight with a kerb weight of almost 2 tonnes).
Not so good : The part-time 4×4 system is not really suitable for the rough stuff – but to be fair the styling (low front bumper) highlights that this is not the real purpose here. The steering is not overly communicative, with little feedback of what’s happening between the tyres and the road filtering through to the driver’s hands…
Buying and Owning
Good : Good levels of standard equipment. Ticks the safety box with ABS, traction control, electronic stability control and a decent number of airbags as standard.
Not so good : The fit & finish of the interior plastics doesn’t feel as ‘high-quality’ as in a number of Japanese brand SUV’s.