By on October 30, 2006

nitro_019.jpgBefore Magnum became a Hemi-powered station wagon (or a mustachioed P.I.) the term referred to elongated bullet casings with extra gun powder. Before the Caliber became synonymous with cheap, underpowered, poor-handling cars, it was the measure of a bullet’s diameter. Once again, The Dodge Boys have raided the Shooter’s Bible, naming their new entry level SUV after Nitro Express elephant gun cartridges (double entendre to NOX fuel a bonus). Does the Nitro deliver the rhino stopping power of Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick, or represent another damp squib for DCX?

The aggressive cross-hair gun sight grill affixed to the nose of the Nitro (as well as all other recent Dodge offerings) is a direct hit. It says, “I’m an American.” Not a PC, sandal wearing, granola eating, citizen-of-the-world type; an American of the self-reliant “don’t tread on me” variety. While once distinctive brands like BMW and Mercedes have abandoned their trademark facades in favor of an aero-Japanese look, the Nitro wears its identity with pride. If this flag waving red meat state demeanor appeals, there is no rival.

nitro_014.jpgThe Nitro rolls out of the same Toledo, Ohio assembly plant as the Jeep Liberty, using the same underpinnings and sharing some major components. Nevertheless, this is no badge-engineered con job– at least on the face of it. The Nitro’s designers have banished any features or shapes suggestive of the vehicle's Jeep heritage. Instead, the CAD-CAM crowd drew their inspiration from comic books, mimicking automobiles driven by villains like Big Boy Caprice, Lips Manlis and Pruneface. We’re talking high-sided slab doors, bulging fenders, large wheels and a chopped roof. Add some running boards and Tommy guns and the Dick Tracy look would be complete.

Unfortunately, the design guys cut some corners, literally. Faux air vents just behind the front wheels desecrate the sides of the Nitro. Land Rover homage aside, I reckon nothing says CHEAP or POSER like impotent plastic appliqués. I have nothing against vents per se, provided they work. If not, take them off and figure out some authentic way to break the tedium of the breadbox shape. You have been told.

dg007_030nt.jpgSit in the Nitro’s overstuffed front seat and recline. Gaze unblinking at the mouse fur ceiling until your eyes dry out and your vision gently blurs. Now the dash looks great! Three tasteful ovals encircle the gauges; well-positioned controls and handsome aluminum trim frame the center console. Blink and clear-eyed scrutiny reveals a cut-rate misfire: right design, wrong materials. Low-grade brittle plastic adorns every button while a mishmash of textures suffuses interior surfaces. The Nitro’s interior says “rental car” almost as clearly as the exterior of the Ford Taurus.

The Dodge Nitro offers plenty of leg and shoulder room for four full-sized pistonheads daring to enter the no-luxury zone. The SLT and R/T models include a novel “Load ‘N Go” system: a cargo floor that slides 18” out the lift gate door to accommodate large objects weighing up to 400lbs. It’s a must for Mafia hit men and die-hard Home Depot patrons.

nitro_046.jpgDespite optional four-wheel drive, the Nitro’s got no off-road game. The Nitro rides closer to the ground than its Jeep cousin, and it’s wider, longer and heavier than its sister-under-the-skin. And boy, does it feel it. Over boosted steering conspires with a loose suspension to deliver glass-like smoothness at 15mph, even through pockmarked parking lots. Unfortunately, these same characteristics make for poor tracking, numb steering and boat-like dynamics at all other speeds, on anything approach a "normal" road. In short, the Nitro handles like an Olde School SUV– without any of the much-maligned war horses’ compensating off-road capabilities.

The Nitro STX and SLT’s holster Jeep’s 210hp 3.7-liter V6. Dubbed the “Magnum” by Dodge marketeers, the powerplant’s mated to either an archaic Dodge four-speed autobox (as tested) or a six-speed manual. Dodge claims a 0-60mph time of nine seconds– which feels just about as slow as it sounds. Rainy conditions hampered my driving test, but the wet gave me plenty of opportunity to investigate the Nitro’s traction control. Conclusion: Bull's eye! It works.

nitro_053.jpgDodge promises that its R/T model, due by year's end, will deliver the knock down power pistonheads crave.  A 255hp aluminum block 4.0-liter V6, 5-speed transmission and sport tuned suspension will “fling” the Nitro from zero to 60mph in… 8.3 seconds. That’s hardly what I’d call KABLAM! In fact, the Nitro lacks the muscle of its munitions namesake, promised by its wikkid looks. The model's squish-mobile performance is more like the feeble pssst of a piss-ant paintball pellet. 

Despite its shortcomings, the Nitro is a stylistic antidote to domesticated CUV’s. It counters the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V with a small SUV that NASCAR dads will be proud to drive. If you can get past the lousy interior, there are worse places to drop $23k and change. If that sounds like I’m damning the Nitro with faint praise, well, that's because I am.

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64 Comments on “Dodge Nitro Review...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Even more than the Caliber, I look at this thing as “what the heck is it?” Car? SUV? Crossover?

    Maybe it would have made more sense had the designers of the rear half not gone on a meth-and-booze bender when they got to the front. Apparently there was too much compromise between the people screaming “Land Rover!” and “Ram pickup!” That is the worst front end I’ve seen on a new design, maybe ever. The fact that the vents are fake just makes it worse.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    A pretty fair-minded review. The interior certainly looks to be fitting the adjective “austere”. Too bad about the handling.

    Maybe if they make the upcoming sport package standard they’ll have a reasonably competitive CUV, although judging from the average person’s driving habits (observed through tortured tolerance and patience on my part) handling is probably irrelevant for 90% of the target audiance.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I saw one in person yesterday, and to me it clearly looked like Dodge’s answer to the question “how can we compete with the Hummer H3?”…

    And I’m not sure that’s a question that should have been asked. Interior space compromised in the sake of “manly” styling and underpowered to the hilt – it appears to be all the H3 is.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Any EPA mileage figures?

  • avatar
    artsy5347

    I too saw one yesterday. Driving I-40 with my wife, whi is not a car person, we pulled alongside this rolling gargoyle.

    My wife shuttered in horror and said “what the hell is THAT?”

    It looks cheap and ill-conceived. It is the poster child for rapid prototyping… so much so they should have slowed down a lot to determine that most people are going to hate having it in their driveway.

    Truly awful stuff that will make even the most die-hard America first buyers look elsewhere.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    EPA estimate of mileage for the 3.7L w/automatic is 18/24. My experience with the Liberty (which is rated 17/22) says that this estimate is generous by about 3 mpg. Nitro is more aerodynamic than the Liberty but it weighs 150lbs more. Inexplicably, Nitro uses Jeep’s engine, differentials, and transfer case (4wd models) but not the same tranny. This could account for some variation.

  • avatar

    To Ash:This is a classic SUV through and through. It’s essentially a rebodied and stretched Jeep Liberty. There’s no mistaking it for anything else.

    I like this thing. I just wish it would be better off road(yes, there are some SUV owners who like to get it dirty). Why make your SUV a real SUV(and not a car based CUV) if you don’t give it the off road balls it needs. And there is NO excuse for this shit interior Chrysler. If Honda and Toyota can offer quality interiors at this price point, so can you. Let’s get with it.

  • avatar
    Bob Peters

    This is supposed to steal CR-V and RAV-4 sales? Without any price-point busting technology or performance advantage, all this thing has is it (questionable) looks. I grieve for Dodge sales people being forced to push this thing….unless they’re pushing it off a pier.

    Great write-up William!

  • avatar
    New2LA

    Should make a decent rental car alternative to replace the outgoing Stratus.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I can’t wait until this supermacho styling trend is over. It’s getting silly.

    And, contrary to the automakers beliefs, the best way to represent American style is not as simple as a big shiny grille, and in-yo-face machismo. At least I hope it’s not that simple.

    So much energy has been sunk into the big-shiny-grille-as-american-style idea that the automakers are gonna be stuck with it, even after it goes out of style. Which won’t be too long, as these things go.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    I’m also waiting for the end of the horrible “Satin-Nickel” plastic interior pieces.

    All the automakers, domestic and offshore, have gone nuts for this hideous imitation metal finish. It looks lousy to start with, and then the inevitable scratches show up the black substrate and scream “CHEAP!”.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    ^Yeah, don’t get me started on that. My Subaru, as with all new cars apparently, is finished in this ‘faux-aluminum’ garbage. We all know the difference between metal and plastic. Nobody is fooled. If you want something to look like aluminum, make it out of aluminum, or if you want something to look like nickel, make it out of nickel. Pretty simple. If you want to go cheap, then go cheap, but be honest about it. I’d be comfortable with my plastic interior looking like plastic, cause, well, that’s what it is, and thats what I paid for. Plus, plastic can be made to look good, or high end. Just look at an iMac.

    This goes also goes for faux-wood and (even worse) faux-carbon-fiber.

    God, carmakers think we’re idiots.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Real carbon fiber is just as nasty as the fake stuff.

  • avatar

    I’ve always felt that way Hutton. However, in my Liberty, the metal trim is pretty damn convincing. I despise faux wood and faux carbon fiber more than anything though.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I’ve owned a Liberty. Good SUV. (But not as good as the Cherokee it replaced). Yes, the trim is convincing. A fake Rolex is convincing too, but you should still feel sleazy trying to pass it off.

  • avatar

    I think it looks like black Chex.

  • avatar

    I enjoy my Liberty. It’s a tough and able SUV. Which makes me wonder about DCX’s thinking with the Nitro. They took all that was good about the Liberty(the toughness and off road capability) and turned it into another street bound mommy mobile. Come on….if you’re going to market this as a badass truck, at least make something badass about it.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    The sliding floor for loading in the trunk isn’t new. Saab had that in the Gary Fischer edition of the 2000 9-5 wagon, and someone else probably had it sooner.

    As far as BMW and M-B going to an “aero-Japanese look”, it’s probably largely a matter of improving their aerodynamics for less wind noise etc. As designs get lower in aerodynamic drag, they will tend to look similar. One of these days Dodge will realize people will want better mileage out of their cars (as well as not want to obliterate pedestrians) and drop the whole big square front design theme.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    You know, as hard as everyone is on Dodge for this thing being butcher than Rosie O’Donnell, I appreciate it. Every f’cking car rolling out on the road today looks the same – the CRV, RAV-4, Equinox, etc. Sure, they’re handsome, but they are just slight detail variations on the same stupid shape. Same goes for the sedans of the world. Honestly, I welcome a company that sells cars with different proportions, shapes and details. This Nitro doesn’t look like anything else on sale, other than maybe the H3, and I appreciate that. Props to a *different* design.

    People who want good mileage don’t buy SUVs to begin with, and if they do, it’s going to be a RAV or CR-V just because they associate them with the “fuel efficient” companies (which is a joke, since GM sells a ton of fuel efficient vehicles). Let Dodge be Dodge, sell different and original cars, and not try to out-Japanese the Japanese.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “Should make a decent rental car alternative to replace the outgoing Stratus.”

    I’d rather drive a Stratus.

    To put it bluntly, this car is ugly, cheap-looking, and slow with no off-road ability and poor handling. Why would anyone want it? This car is supposed to compete with a Toyota RAV4 or Maxda CX-7? How?

  • avatar

    I appreciate the design as well. Does anyone else remember Dodge’s previous tagline “Dodge. Different.” With those excellent commercials with Ed Hermann in them? I thought that was brilliant because it was making them look….well, different than the cookie cutter stuff the other companies(Ford, GM, Japanese) was putting out. Dodge, in a sense, helped usher along this design revolution that sparked in the mid 90s which helped us out of the boring 80s style. So I applaud this vehicles design for the sheer fact that it’s not what everything else is….a jelly bean on wheels.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    I admit to liking the looks of the vehicle. It’s a nice break from the commonness of most vehicles. If it got a diesel, I might even desire one. This looks like a vehicle that should have a diesel.

  • avatar
    artsy5347

    Too bad it wasn’t out in time for TWAT. It coulda’ been a contendah!

  • avatar
    tms1999

    I’m confused. This thing looks oh-so-similar to the spyshot I’ve seen of the next gen Liberty… Is the new liberty gonna look like that with a different nose job?

    How about a Chrysler version?

    When is DCX going to make competitive engines? I’m not sure big displacement/low output engine are so hot nowadays. This Nitro is slow and has bad fuel economy. Wow. A winner. And it’s not like DCX does not have good engines. Or transmissions. 4 speed slushbox? Yes, I’m looking at the D of DCX.

  • avatar
    ash78

    It just hit me: Nissan Pathfinder with a different snout.

    I guess I just find it odd that Dodge isn’t sticking with a single, universal design theme for trucks/SUVs (except that huge grille). They DID make the Durango the proverbial jellybean, but here they went with the two-box layout. Looks like a baby Commander. Speaking of that, this car maybe should have been what Jeep brought instead of the Compass.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    This vehicle looks badass, but if it can’t really back up that look with the proper performance, than all it is, is a “look” and that’s not honest design.

    What we have here is a slow, comfy, reasonalble, practical CUV… that looks like it wants to kick your ass.

    AKA, it’s your Grandmother. With tattoos, piercings, and a biker jacket. Not exactly an attractive proposition.

  • avatar
    dean

    Open up the second picture, place your hand over the front of the Nitro and it is a Commander. Only smaller.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I saw one of these for the first time a few weeks ago at a Dodge/Jeep dealer and couldn’t figure out what it was. I assumed it was a Dodge version of the Commander, and it baffled me because I thought the Durango was the Dodge version of the Commander.

    This thing is supposed to be a CUV? But if it’s on the Liberty platform does that mean it has a ladder frame and a 2-speed transfer case? Because that would seem to push it into the “real SUV” realm.

    In any case, I never associated the “Nitro” term to the Nitro Express cartridge, I figured it was named by the same guy who advertises the car shows and races on late-night TV. You know the ones, “SUN-day! SUN-day! SUN-day! NIT-Tro BURN-in’ FUN-ny cars!” etc.

    I guess this is a nitro-burnin’ non-funny car (or maybe a nitro-burning-funny-lookin’ car.)

  • avatar
    f8

    This vehicle looks badass,

    Not really. It looks like Dodge’s idea of badass – a huge chrome crosshair-shaped grill on your car/truck/SUV, square headlights, and a shiny logo in the middle. Not that it doesn’t work for some applications – like Ram or Charger – but when you use the same trick on a small Caliber and on soccer-mom mobiles like Durango and Nitro, it just looks, for lack of a better term, retarded.

  • avatar

    I like it for what it is.. a Liberty for men..

  • avatar
    Hutton

    If this was, indeed, a Liberty for men, one wouldn’t expect it to be less capable. But it is. So out of the two, I guess the Liberty would be the “manly” choice, if we were to go about the questionable business of asigning sex to cars.

    If Dodge takes the “manly” thing too far (let’s not forget some recent Caliber commercials), they’re going to wind up becoming a parody of manliness in the vain of The Village People. (If they haven’t already).

  • avatar
    radimus

    Now it is completely clear why Ford’s been losing market share all this time. They let Dodge steal the redneck market right out from under them.

    It all started with when Dodge redesigned their pickup into that faux-Freightliner design years back. Shortly after that happened, all those losers that were tailgating everyone in fancy Ford pickups were doing the same with Dodges. Especially after they were putting Cummins diesels in them. Now you could really pretend you were driving a big rig.

    Then Ford goes and drops the Thunderbird. The big coupe from the 90’s. Not that overpriced nostaglia machine they brought out a few years later. Dodge counters with the Magnum and Charger. They put the Neon on a force-fed diet of steriods and testosterone and turn it into the Caliber.

    And what does Ford go and do? They go and get all sensitive and metrosexual with the 500, Fusion, and Edge. Dodge, on the other hand, figured out why NASCAR had become the most popular sport in the country and ran with it.

    Now, with all the small SUV’s and CUV’s feeling their feminine side up a bit too much Dodge has the answer for the common redneck. Forget the Toyota RAV4 (Ronda’s At-the-mall Vehicle), Honda CR-V (Chick Recreation Vehicle), Chevy Equinox (for all those horoscope watching ladies), Ford Freestyle (sounds like something you’d have done at the hair salon), and Ford Esacpe (just give me a couple hours away from the kids and I’ll be fine). Now there is the Dodge Nitro to show just what kind of man you really are. No soft and bubbly whatever-UV for you, thank you very much. Flat sides and right angles for that more impsoing impression in the rearview of that car you’re tailgating. Plenty of flat surfaces for GOP and pro-gun bumper stickers, NASCAR numbers, or decals of Calvin pissing on something. Yet, with all that machismo there’s that fine pothole absorbing ride to make sure your Coors Lite doesn’t spill.

    Toby Keith can croon on about those sissified Fords all he likes. Them Dodge drivers know better.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Saw one on the road a few weeks back; I liked it. Even without the stupid fender vent, it has a nice mix of tough truck and high-dollar Land Rover to it.

    Stuff a HEMI under the hood and give it RAV4 levels of interior quality (yes, really) and the Nitro would be a winner.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Now it is completely clear why Ford’s been losing market share all this time. They let Dodge steal the redneck market right out from under them.

    The Dodge Ram has been a distant 3rd place in sales ever since the 1994 redesign. More importantly, its getting harder and harder to find that bodystyle on the road, compared to the mid 90s Chevy and Fords. At least down here in Houston.

    I still think Ford’s got the redneck’s hearts and minds, and the sales figures prove it.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I like the look of the little beast, at least it is making a statement rather than a snore. I do think it is overpriced and underpowered for what it is. I can’t imagine buy this instead of a more capable Liberty.

  • avatar
    dmosbach

    A general comment on styling trends…
    Told to me by a Senior Benz mechanic I know:
    The new European pedestrian crash standards are such that in order implement them the front-end designs are necessarily influenced. This speaks for the BMW/Audi/VW/MB ‘slope nose’ so apparent in newer designs.

  • avatar
    ash78

    However, on this side of the pond, we still have machines like this that will run pedestrians through the Play-Doh Fun Factory grille. If only it came with the chrome spaghetti-making attachment like GMC offers…

    Will this one be sold in Europe (like the Caliber, Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, T&C van, etc)?

  • avatar
    chronoguy

    I saw a rental the other day. Silver w/ black cladding. The rear and side looked like a Land Rover LR3 from 40 feet away.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Radimus,

    An underpowered can’t tow anything or get out of its own way “SUV” that can’t even go off road is going to attract the rednecks and NASCAR types? I don’t think so. If Dodge really wanted to appeal to rednecks, they would have made a vehicle that could tow the bass boat to the lake.

    By the way, I can’t stand that stupid Nitro commercial where the guy is giving somebody a jump start with his Nitro and ends up blowing the other car up into the air. Stupid, insulting commercial to begin with. Add in the low output engine these things have and it becomes laughable.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Know that scene in pulp fiction where Mr Wallace’s wife is laid out on the drug dealer’s floor OD’ing on coke… where she needs that giant needle of adreniline or else she is going to die. Yeah that scene where they make a circle on her breast where they need to stick the giant syringe to bring her back to life… or so they think. Well it sounds like thats about what happened to this dodge… it woke up with a giant syringe perpendictularly inserted into it’s body. Just another half assed, could have been better if we tried but we didnt or weren’t allowed to… so get over it.

    I have no idea where I was going with this reply… I was just thinking about that film.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Stuff a HEMI under the hood and give it RAV4 levels of interior quality (yes, really) and the Nitro would be a winner.

    Amen!

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    radimus:

    as a practicing metrosexual, i would never buy a ford

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    An underpowered can’t tow anything or get out of its own way “SUV” that can’t even go off road is going to attract the rednecks and NASCAR types? I don’t think so. If Dodge really wanted to appeal to rednecks, they would have made a vehicle that could tow the bass boat to the lake.

    Give the Nitro some credit. The standard 3.7L Nitro will pull 3,500/5,000 lbs (with/without towing package). That’ll easily pull any bass boat – unless you prefer fishing from the Titanic. That also out-muscles its Asian CUV competitors (as well as the V6 Chevy Equinox).

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Will this one be sold in Europe (like the Caliber, Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, T&C van, etc)?

    Yes. Dodge is planning to sell the Nitro in Europe.

  • avatar
    radimus

    Sajeev and Lumbergh, never mind. It went right over your heads.

  • avatar
    o_fizzle

    This is one of those vehicles that actually looks worse in person than in pictures. I know because I was unfortunate enough to lay my eyes on one yesterday.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    Lumbergh21,

    “An underpowered can’t tow anything or get out of its own way “SUV” that can’t even go off road is going to attract the rednecks and NASCAR types? I don’t think so. If Dodge really wanted to appeal to rednecks, they would have made a vehicle that could tow the bass boat to the lake.”

    They do. It’s called a Dodge Ram.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    as a practicing metrosexual, i would never buy a ford

    BINGO – Ford’s problem in a heartbeat – they’ve ruined the “McGarrett” (remember Hawaii-50 and his black Mercury?) attitude Mercury had for years, and now they killed that and tries to get women and metrosexuals.

    My wife is pregnant, and wants a new car for her Corolla. I’m trying to talk her into driving my Grand Marquis, and I’ll drive the crackerbox Corolla. She says the Grand Marquis is too “masculine” for her – wants a small SUV (why when we already have one large/road trip vehicle?)

    Made me think – old people like the Town Car/GM/Crown Vic because older people don’t get caught up in all this image stuff younger people seem to obsess about. Myself, – I’m only 40, but loved big American sedans since my first Catalina – throwing gravel ever since.

    Modern masculinity is all about flash, and not quiet, simple confidence of the previous generations (even muscle cars were originally very plain). It comes out in the vehicles people buy today – all flash and little substance.

    McGarrett manhood lives on in the Grand Marquis – the rest of Mercury blows big time.

  • avatar
    vincentobrien

    Despite all the maculinity and ‘Mericun-osity that Dodge is pushing with this, I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to be seeing this driven by the same people I see driving the Caliber…cute college girls and Canadians.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    grand marquis? 224hp from a v8? that’s so, so sad. honda engines are pushing 200hp from a 4 and that’s without a supercharger or turbo. Why not get your wife a rav4 – it’s smallish, gets somewhat decent mileage. but the real question is why does she want an suv? i bet just so she can see over the other suvs on the road (which is also so sad). I propose that all new non-suv cars come equipped with a headsup display mounted to a periscope.

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    nitro.
    the name conjures up images of a shaved mutt.

    might as well call it: Jumbo.

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    The comments illustrate the perils of trying to objectively rate cars’ aesthetics, one against the other. Let’s say I am so bold as to announce that I believe (as I do) that the Volvo S40, Volkswagen Jetta, and Hyundai Sonata have the best-looking exteriors around. Immediately the multitudes will rush forth with comments like, the S40 looks like a bulbous-nosed, squished S60, the Jetta has lost the earlier Jetta’s flair and now is but a pale imitation of a Corolla, and the Sonata out-blands the Accord. Ain’t these things just a matter of taste? Besides, the visual appeal of a car can be subtly influenced by what we personally bring to the table. When I first saw the current Corolla’s touch of “wood” trim inside, I smiled because I experienced the trim as almost a light-hearted spoof of the self-important wood treatments in certain luxury cars. Someone else, though, might have become indignant at what they experienced as Corolla’s failed attempt to imitate the big guys. De gustibus…

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    “McGarrett manhood lives on in the Grand Marquis – the rest of Mercury blows big time”

    Ah, how “father knows best”!

    I rented a Merc Grand Marquis for a trip of about 3 hours up the jersey turnpike to western connecticut a few years ago. It was interesting. The ride was cushy and soft – perfect for cruising the ‘pike. I was quiet, too. There’s something to be said for low output V8s. They are so smooooth.

    I spent about an hour playing with the power seat controls. However, I couldn’t reach the radio controls at all, i had to sit way up in the seat to reach them. Not an easy thing when u are ensconced in about three feet of soft foam padding. I suspect I looked pretty funny doin it.

    The car was less fun in the parking lot, and way less fun on anything other than 75 mph in a straight line. Also nearly impossible to parallel park.

    If I could have a few cars, this might be one of them, just for leisurly jaunts on the trunpike. However, there’s lots of better cars for me, ones that cruise well, but also do twisties nicely. Any Audi, most VW’s, most BMW’s do nicely. In the packed solid North East USA that I live in, smaller and better definitely rules.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The Grand Marquis looks perfect next to my 67 Ford Galaxie 500XL convertible in the garage – the Nitro would not.

    The specs on the Galaxie are not impressive either, but it is still running on the original drivetrain 38 years later. Grand Marquis is similar – simple, understressed, and overbuilt. When it’s gone, it’s the last of it’s kind to never be seen again.

  • avatar
    SuperAROD

    “Before the Caliber became synonymous with cheap, underpowered, poor-handling cars”

    So cheap and underpowered that dealers can’t keep them in stock and Dodge will sell nearly 100 thousand of them this year alone.

    The Nitro is going to be a big seller as well. Mark my words.

  • avatar

    They may sell well, but Monty’s not wrong.

  • avatar

    I also think it’ll sell, but based on styling, interior room, and price.

    In my own test drive, I noticed all of the above plus the real clincher, awful ergonomics. Visit a Dodge showroom and see what it’s like to get into one of these. I cannot recall a vehicle where I had a harder time not bumping my head–and I’m not tall. The front footwells are also narrow and force your feet towards the outside.

    Someone might have already mentioned this, but the Nitro is actually much more closely related to the next Jeep Liberty than the current one. I personally feel that the current Liberty rides and handles quite a bit better than the Nitro.

    If anyone’s interested in seeing how the pricing stacks up:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Nitro.php

  • avatar
    SuperAROD

    “They may sell well, but Monty’s not wrong.”

    Proof is in the pudding. You can’t on one hand use sales figures and market share to dog American auto makers for not putting out good product, and then on the other hand dismiss great sales figures to once again dog American auto makers.

    Apparently Caliber is a better product than Monty wants to give them credit for. It is also selling like hotcakes in foreign markets, it is Dodge’s first overseas hit.

  • avatar

    I can dog automakers for lackluster sales and dog them for crap products that sell well. It’s my perogative as a car hack, and it doesn’t make me a hypocrite. I think.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Sometimes the two collide.

    See tanking Ford F-Series sales.

  • avatar
    tastyorange

    I sat in a base model the other day.
    I could not believe how uncomfortable the seats were, never mind the drab interior. The seats reminded me of old tired office chairs that had no support left in them.
    As soon as I sat on the driver’s seat, my butt hit the hard plastic seat surround that was just as high up as the rest of the seat.
    The back seat was really bad as well. I had just sat in the new 2007 Sentra and that has very comfortable seats… so what is so hard about making an $18,000 car comfortable?
    Do the the execs ever try out the cars they produce?
    A car with a name like Nitro should be a little more exciting than what I encountered.

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    I can dog automakers for lackluster sales and dog them for crap products that sell well. It’s my perogative as a car hack, and it doesn’t make me a hypocrite. I think.

    You would only be a hypocrite if you were building plywood cars in your backyard.

    Personally, I don’t care about a car’s sales figures. If it’s crap, it’s crap.

  • avatar
    AirJunky

    Wow, a lot of people hating this rig, huh. I’m trying to figure out where Dodge made everyone think this was supposed to be a “real 4×4″ or “real SUV”. All the press I’ve read about it says it’s a street truck. Not to mention the 20″ rims, hello?! Dodge didn’t miss it, someone is misinterpretting it.

    I like the looks. And if I can get 20+ mpg out of a rig I can sit 4 adults & the dogs in, plus tow my ATVs or boat behind it, then this should be a pretty cool rig. The 4wd will be great for snow, wet boat ramps, muddy forest service roads, etc. I haven’t been using my Dakota for hardcore offroad so there is no reason to think I’d use this for it.

    The cheap plastic dash is a bit of a disappointment. I haven’t even sat in one yet so I’ll be looking at that in particular. But my 8 yr old Dakota is the same way so I’m not sure I ever expected anything different.

  • avatar
    Toxie2725

    Its like a CRV or Rav4 – only for men this time. I like it.


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