Summary, Prices, Specs

By August 8, 2009

Summary

The Nitro has all the Dodge character. It feels bigger than its size, thanks to a high beltline, high seating position, and much glass at the rear corners. The R/T used to cost $3200 more than the SLT, but for 2009 Dodge has leveled the prices, which makes the R/T the superior value. Mechanically, the SE and SLT models are hindered by the 3.7-liter engine and four-speed automatic transmission. The R/T has a more powerful and smoother 4.0-liter engine, which gets about the same gas mileage at the 3.7, along with a good five-speed automatic transmission. It also has a more comfortable ride. If you're going to opt for a Nitro, go for the R/T.

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from San Diego, California, with Kirk Bell reporting from Chicago.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Dodge Nitro SE 2WD ($22,240), SE 4WD ($23,900); SLT 2WD ($24,560), SLT AWD ($26,220); R/T 2WD ($24,560); R/T AWD ($26,220)
Engines:210-hp 3.7-liter V6; 260-hp 4.0-liter V6
Transmissions:6-speed manual; 4-speed automatic; 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):multi-stage frontal airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags; anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic stability program with traction control and electronic roll mitigation, child seat anchor system, tire-pressure monitor
Safety equipment (optional):rear obstacle detection
Basic warranty:3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Toledo, Ohio
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Dodge Nitro R/T 4WD ($26,220)
Standard equipment:YES Essentials cloth upholstery, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, six-way power adjustable driver's seat, remote keyless entry with power windows and door locks, heated power exterior mirrors, 115-volt power outlet, flat folding front passenger seat, 60/40 folding rear bench seat, AM/FM/CD with MP3 and six speakers, Sirius satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, tilt steering column, theft-deterrent system, rear window washer/wiper, roof rails, vehicle information center, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, Load 'n Go cargo storage system with tie-down rails, overhead console, cruise control, compass; tinted windows, sport suspension, fog lights, P245/50R20 Goodyear Eagle tires on chromed aluminum wheels
Options as tested (MSPR):Travel Convenience Group ($820) with an alarm, heavy-duty engine cooling, a Class III trailer hitch receiver, a wiring harness and a full-size spare tire; power sunroof ($895); Convenience group ($1,345) with rear obstacle detection, auto-dimming rearview mirror, UConnect wireless cell phone link, remote engine starting, eight speakers and subwoofer; Premium Sound group with AM/FM/6 CD/DVD/MP3 stereo ($350)
Destination charge:$745
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$30375
Layout:rear-wheel drive
Engine:4.0-liter sohc V6
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):260 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):265 @ 4200
Transmission:5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:16/21 mpg
Wheelbase:108.8 in.
Length/width/height:178.9/73.1/69.9 in.
Track, f/r:61.0/61.0 in.
Turning circle:36.3 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:40.6/56.8/40.8 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:40.8/47.4/37.7 in.
Cargo volume:75.6 cu. ft.
Payload:N/A
Towing capacity:5000 Lbs.
Suspension, f:independent, upper and lower A arms, coil springs, shocks and stabilizer bar
Suspension, r:live axle with upper and lower trailing arms, track bar, coil springs, stabilizer bar and shocks
Ground clearance:7.3 in.
Curb weigth:4204 lbs.
Tires:P245/50R20
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc with ABS and brake assist
Fuel capacity:19.5 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of August 8, 2009.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-4ADODGE - www.dodge.com