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2007 Dodge Nitro SUV Reviwe: Road Test, Specs, Photos
Dodge nitro blasts onto crowded SUV market

by Ron Moorhead

Is the world ready for another entry in the sport utility market? Apparently Dodge feels there is a need for more variety in the mid-sized category, because they have just introduced the Nitro. With its bold styling and long list of features it will fill a gap that Dodge sees between the full-sized SUV and the smaller entry level sport utes. The Nitro brings a great deal of attributes to the table that makes it a capable four-wheel drive and a fun family transporter.

2007 Dodge Nitro SLT SUV Review - Road Test, Specs, Photos

Dodge is being a bit coy about the lineage of the Nitro because it's related to the Jeep Liberty, loosely sharing the platform on which the Nitro sits and many elements of the drive train that make it so capable. Without saying it, although with a bit of a glint in their eyes, the Dodge folks allude to these family ties. After all, the Jeep Liberty is one heck of a competent vehicle and quite popular.

The Nitro sits on a longer wheelbase stretching about four inches over Liberty, which translates to a more adept ride on the highway plus offers more room for passengers and cargo.

The more aggressive exterior design makes the Nitro more of a gentle off-roader because the front bumper cover and chin spoiler are located a tad lower and could be vulnerable while attempting to climb rocks and logs in the bush. This is more a forest trail vehicle than a rock-crawler.

The broad trademark cross-hair grille makes no mistake that this is from the Dodge family. But the rest of the body design does hint toward the Jeep affiliation. Large bulging fender flares add to the aggressive nature of the Nitro. These just add to the notion that this is a rugged SUV.

On the inside this Dodge presents a comfortable, yet somewhat industrial appearance. It is an attractive look that brings forward the capabilities of a truck that also offers the finer attributes buyers are requesting of their SUVs.

Now matter your stature, if you 5’2” or 6’2”, the seat adjustments make it easy to maneuver into the correct and comfortable position. Second row seating is spilt 60/40 and fold flat to give a full flat floor to the tailgate offering large cargo capacity. A cool feature available for the rear cargo area is a sliding cargo shelf Dodge calls Load-N-Go. Accessing the area from the tailgate, you can slide the floor of the cargo area out beyond the rear bumper to facilitate loading more cumbersome items. Then slide it back where it locks in place. It will hold up to 400 pounds so you can see it is quite beefy.

2007 Dodge Nitro SUV Interior Review: Interior: Road Test, Specs, Photos

Safety was one key element in the Nitro’s development and many safety features are included on the standard equipment list of all models. Driver and front passenger front air bags and supplemental front side air bags are standard on all models, which are great if you do become involved in an accident. However, to help keep you out of such a situation Electronic stability control, traction control, advanced anti-locking brakes and electronic roll mitigation are included on the standard equipment list. Just the equipment you need to assit you in keeping your vehicle out of harms way.

Much of the mechanical bits that make the Nitro go and stop are shared with Liberty. The base engine is the tried and true, 3.7L V6 that feels like it has more zip in the Liberty, but does an ample job propelling the heavier, nearly 4,000 lbs. Nitro.

For more performance we would choose the 4.0L V6 available only in the R/T model. This engine pumps the power up 50 horsepower to 260 and the torque up to 265 lbs-ft. The difference is a more solid launch from starts and more throttle response while merging into traffic and accelerating at speed. But then the R/T is meant for street cruising and we do like the idea of hitting the dirt trails so we would go with the 3.7L. Neither engine offer throw you back in the seat performance, but each will find devotees.

Three transmission choices are available along with two four-wheel drive systems. The combinations depend on which model you choose. A six-speed manual is the base transmission available only on the SXT. A four-speed automatic is standard on the SLT and optional on the SXT and the five-speed automatic only comes as standard on the R/T.

2007 Dodge Nitro RT Interior - New Car Review, Specs, Photos

When it comes to four-wheel drive systems the two available here are probably rated as two of the best in the business. A full-time system is standard on the R/T and optional on the other two models. A part-time system is only available as standard equipment on the SXT and SLT. Beyond the engineering differences, which there are many, the characteristic differentiating the two is one always remains in some mode of four wheel drive.

The full-time system, while it is switchable to low range for difficult off-road situations, is always set to a form of four-wheel drive, even on dry, hard road surfaces. The part time remains in two-wheel drive until the driver switches into one of two four-wheel modes. Both systems work well and are easy to operate.

The design may seem more masculine and aggressive to some, Dodge believes that the strong aggressive design will attract new buyers as well as loyalists. Surveying the equipment and features available and the strong abilities it exhibits there isn’t a doubt that the Nitro will find its niche.

2007 Dodge Nitro
Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
Model options:

Nitro SXT
Nitro SLT
Nitro R/T

Engine size:

SXT/SLT: 3.7L V6
R/T: 4.0L V-6 SOHC

V6: 260 hp @ 6,000 rpm

SXT/SLT: 6-Speed Manual or 4-Speed Automatic
R/T: 5-Speed Automatic


108.8 inches

Overall Length:

178.9 inches


ABS with Brake Assist, ESC

Air bags:

2 Advanced Multi-Stage Front air bags
Side Curtain air bags

Fuel Economy:

3.7-L: 18/23 mpg
4.0-L: 17/21 mpg


$19,885 Base

Price as Tested:

$28,565 (Includes $660 destination charge)