2009 dodge nitro reviews

2009 dodge nitro reviews DEFAULT

Dodge Nitro

The Dodge Nitro is distinguished by its squared-off styling with exaggerated fender flares. The Nitro looks and feels larger than its size. It's on the smaller end of the midsize SUV class but larger than the compact SUVs. The Underneath, the Dodge shares its basic structure with the Jeep Liberty.

Nitro features a high seating position and good cabin space. Its Load n Go cargo system makes loading heavy objects easy thanks to a rear cargo floor that slides rearward out over the rear bumper and can hold pounds. And the rear seats and front passenger seat fold totally flat in seconds.

The Nitro comes with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with a choice of V6 engines. The newer liter V6 is better than the old liter, with 50 more horsepower and fuel economy that's only about one mile per gallon less. The liter engine only comes in the sportier R/T model, and it also benefits from a five-speed automatic transmission versus a four-speed in the other models.

Three types of upholstery are available: basic cloth, a handsome stain-repellant cloth, and beautiful perforated leather. No matter which covering, the seats are very comfortable. The cabin is quiet thanks to heavy use of sound deadening material, and visibility out the rear and to the front corners of the Nitro is excellent.

The Nitro gets suspension, steering and brake revisions to make the vehicle more linear and precise for Dodge says retuned springs, shocks, anti-roll bars and steering gear valve, plus stiffer rear axles, improve steering and handling, while a retuned brake booster, low rollback calipers and a revised brake pedal improve pedal feel. Dodge has also discontinued availability of a manual transmission, as well as the all-wheel drive system that was offered on SLT and R/T models.

Model Lineup

The Dodge Nitro comes as three models, SE, SLT and R/T. All are available with rear-wheel drive (2WD) or a part-time four-wheel drive (4WD) system that should not be left engaged on dry pavement.

Nitro SE 2WD ($22,) and 4WD ($23,) come with a hp liter V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, air conditioning, remote keyless entry with power windows and door locks, volt power outlet, flat folding front passenger seat, 60/40 folding rear bench seat, AM/FM/CD with MP3 with six speakers, Sirius satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, tilt steering column, slate-colored molded front and rear fascias and fender flares, folding power mirrors, theft-deterrent system, rear window washer/wiper, roof rails and P/75R16 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers.

Nitro SLT ($24,) and SLT AWD ($26,) add Yes Essentials cloth upholstery that Dodge says is stain, odor and static resistant; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; six-way power adjustable driver's seat; heated exterior mirrors; vehicle information center; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; fog lights; Load 'n Go cargo storage system with tie-down rails; volt power outlet; chrome interior accents; cruise control; compass; tinted windows; body-colored front and rear fascias and fender flares; and P/65R17 tires on aluminum wheels.

Nitro R/T 2WD ($24,) and R/T AWD ($26,) feature a liter V6 making horsepower, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. The R/T comes with a sport suspension with P/50R20 Goodyear Eagle tires on chromed aluminum wheels. The R/T is equipped like the SLT.

Options for all models include leather upholstery with heated front seats ($); power sunroof ($); rear park assist ($); a Travel Convenience Group ($) with an alarm, heavy-duty engine cooling, a Class III trailer hitch receiver, a wiring harness and a full-size spare tire; a Chrome Accents Group ($1,) with chrome on the side steps, fuel filler and door sills; and Dodge's UConnect Multimedia Suite ($2,), which has a navigation system with voice command, an iPod adapter, UConnect Phone wireless cell phone link, 6CD changer, and a gigabyte hard drive to store music and photos. R/T and SLT offer a Convenience group ($1,) with rear obstacle detection, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Dodge's UConnect wireless cell phone link, remote engine starting, eight speakers and a subwoofer. The SLT can be ordered with chrome alloy wheels and the R/T sport suspension ($1,).

Safety equipment that comes standard on all models includes dual front air bags, head-protecting curtain air bags, and a tire-pressure monitor. Active safety features include ABS with brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control with Trailer Sway Control.


The Dodge Nitro is distinguished by its boxy styling. The exaggerated fender flares are the only rounded parts in the styling. Every other angle is square. It looks and feels larger than it is, which some will find to be a good thing. It is, however, smaller than many of its midsize competitors.

From the front, the Nitro is unmistakably Dodge. It's got that big crosshair grille, which looks much better in body color (R/T) than chrome (SE, SLT). The horizontal headlights, turn signal slits and fog lamps are a tidy fit in the massive face.

However it doesn't appear as if much attempt was made to have the front bumper fascia be tidy; it's got edges all over the place. Beneath the bumper is a wide air intake for the power steering cooler, whose thin fins are exposed to flying stones because there is no screen.

Taking a cue from the faux portholes on the Buick Lucerne, or possibly the tradition of a Mercedes-Benz sports car, there's a trapezoid-shaped insert, black plastic with three chrome ribs, located just forward of the mirrors. It's intended to look like a cooling slot. It's a nice touch, and for such a small piece it goes a long way toward relaxing the Nitro's blocky shape.

With its upright windshield, high beltline, rectangular windows and short front overhang, the Nitro's silhouette is reminiscent of a '62 Dodge Power Wagon. But from the rear three-quarter angle, the lines around the rear glass are reminiscent of the big Jeep Commander. We like the cleaner black, rather than chrome, around the windows.

Our test Nitro R/T was equipped with standard inch chromed aluminum wheels, and they sure are showy. The narrow sidewall on the inch tires doesn't appear to offer much defense against flats. Our preference would be for taller tires on smaller-diameter wheels.

Interior Features

The Dodge Nitro SE comes with the base cloth, while the SLT and R/T get the premium Yes Essentials fabric designed to repel stains, controls odors and reduces static electricity. The optional perforated charcoal leather with red stitching in one test R/T was beautiful. The front buckets were comfortable and supportive, with excellent bolstering. We found leather better than stain-resistant fabric for dogs because their fur tends to stick into the latter.

The four-spoke steering wheel is handsome, with a big center hub and thick spokes at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, smaller spokes at 5 and 7. Info center buttons are under your thumb on the big spokes. There are three big main instruments: speedometer in the center, tachometer on the right, fuel and temperature gauges on the left. They look good and are especially legible, with the digital information still visible in the sun because the three pods are thoughtfully shrouded. Chrysler does gauges right, and generally blows GM out of the water when it comes to handsome style and function. On the other hand, Dodge trails GM when it comes to materials quality. Like most Dodges, the Nitro's interior materials are largely plastic and don't impart the feel of luxury or quality. A few more soft-touch surfaces would be nice.

There's good front-seat legroom, and it feels like there's even more because the dashboard is narrow. The dash also has an insert over the center stack, about 6 by 9 inches with grippy rubber at the bottom, and it's perfect for, well, things. The glovebox is the full width of the passenger side.

Rearview visibility is very good, with just windows back there, no attempt at swoopy styling with excess sheetmetal. And again, because the front fenders have no rise or real shape, it's easy to see the front corners of the vehicle, making parking a relief compared to many vehicles this size.

The square theme continues with the center stack and the audio and climate controls. Everything is clean, easy to operate, and easy to understand. We especially like the inside door handles, an intelligent ergonomic design: They form a half loop, and you simply slip three or four fingers against the door inside the handle, fingers facing forward so there's no twist of the wrist, and pull.

Between the seats, along with the gearshift, transfer case, and emergency brake lever, there are two fixed cupholders and a small recess for change. There's a shallow tray in the top of the center console storage bin, and a deep compartment under that.

UConnect integrates the radio and navigation system and a gigabyte hard drive that holds songs, pictures and the navigation information. You can rip CDs directly to the system and display your own digital pictures. It responds to voice commands and the navigation system has real-time traffic information. While the screen has a nice display, there's a separate Enter button, which can be annoying because intuition suggests pressing the toggle switch down. We hate the Enter button.

The rear seats are split 60/40 and easily fold flat and the front passenger seat folds totally flat, great for hauling long objects. The SE model has a reversible, washable vinyl rear load floor, while SLT and R/T models have the unique Load n Go system. With the liftgate raised, the carpeted rear cargo floor slides rearward 18 inches, out over the bumper, saving a loader's back. It can hold pounds.

Under half of the cargo floor there's a four-inch-deep compartment that can store things such as jumper cables and tools, or hide a laptop. All told, with the second-row seats folded flat, there is feet of cargo space. That's about 10 cubic feet less than a Ford Explorer, 20 cubic feet less than a Toyota Highlander, and more than 40 cubic feet less than a Chevy Traverse. Despite its looks, the Nitro is on the small side of the midsize SUV class.

For the past couple of years, Dodge has been working hard on making their SUVs quiet, and the Nitro succeeds. The liter engine is rather harsh-sounding, but the Nitro's sound-deadening material muffles it well.

The air conditioning might be fine on a normal hot day, but it seemed marginal for searing conditions. We drove from San Diego to Palm Springs on a September day, and when we got there it was degrees. The AC was going full blast, and it wasn't doing the job. The fan was blowing strong, but the air coming out of the vents wasn't cold enough to cool the cabin.

Driving Impressions

After long drives in both the Dodge Nitro SLT 4WD and R/T 2WD, we prefer the R/T.

The liter engine in the SLT is slightly harsh and too slow, and the four-speed automatic transmission needs another gear. When we floored the SLT once at 40 mph, the transmission didn't kick down and the vehicle felt gutless. The suspension takes bumps with a jolt, especially at lower speeds and mostly at the front wheels. And when we turned off the stability control and drove it aggressively around a hairpin turn, the front end washed out as badly as anything we've felt in a long time, on its Goodyear Wrangler on/off-road performance tires. This was surprising, because the Nitro is a rear-wheel-drive platform.

Dodge R/T models are considered high performance, but in this case it's not hot-rod performance, it's simply a higher level of basic performance by the engine, transmission and suspension.

The liter V6 is a single overhead-cam engine. It's rated at horsepower, 50 more than the engine in the SLT, and it provides pound-feet of torque at rpm. That's a lot of horsepower and torque, and we can't say that the R/T really feels like it has that much; but we can say that it accelerates up to 90 mph without messing around. Both engines can tow up to 5, pounds when equipped with the towing package.

The R/T engine is quieter than the liter in the SLT, and it gets nearly the same mileage: 16/21 mpg EPA City/Highway with 2WD, with 89 octane recommended but 87 acceptable. We got mpg driving the R/T very hard out in the country.

The five-speed automatic transmission makes a world of difference in smoothness over the four-speed. However in manual mode, it doesn't listen. It only responds to a shift by the driver (at least this driver) about half the time. Most of the shifts to which it doesn't respond are about saving gas. It refuses to short-shift, or upshift before redline under heavy throttle. Nor will it upshift when you back off the throttle. As a result, passing on two-lanes is unnecessarily difficult. The upshifts near redline ( rpm) are slow, not as sharp as one might expect from an R/T. And the shift mechanism is not ergonomic; that is, the shifts are made by moving the lever from side to side, not forward and back, which would be easier.

When the Nitro was released in , it seemed like an old school, s-style SUV with a truck ride compared to the slew of carlike crossover SUVs we've been getting. Perhaps in response to those criticisms, Dodge has retuned the suspension, steering and brakes for to improve the Nitro's handling and braking. While those changes make the Nitro a bit more precise in its movements, a leopard can't change its spots. The Nitro still has a bouncy, truck-like ride, despite its unibody construction, and the tall, top heavy design makes it lean in turns. The handling of the R/T is reasonably sure-footed, and considerably more precise than the SLT; Goodyear Eagle tires help a lot. Surprisingly, we found the R/T's ride to be better than the SLT's. Theoretically, the R/T's tuned suspension should be firmer, and surely it is overall, but it's also more comfortable; yet another reason the R/T is better than the lesser models.


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 $ more than the SLT, but for Dodge has leveled the prices, which makes the R/T the superior value. Mechanically, the SE and SLT models are hindered by the liter engine and four-speed automatic transmission. The R/T has a more powerful and smoother liter engine, which gets about the same gas mileage at the , 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,), SE 4WD ($23,); SLT 2WD ($24,), SLT AWD ($26,); R/T 2WD ($24,); R/T AWD ($26,)
Engines:hp liter V6; hp 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, miles
Assembled in:Toledo, Ohio
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Dodge Nitro R/T 4WD ($26,)
Standard equipment:YES Essentials cloth upholstery, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, six-way power adjustable driver's seat, remote keyless entry with power windows and door locks, heated power exterior mirrors, volt power outlet, flat folding front passenger seat, 60/40 folding rear bench seat, AM/FM/CD with MP3 and six speakers, Sirius satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, tilt steering column, theft-deterrent system, rear window washer/wiper, roof rails, vehicle information center, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, Load 'n Go cargo storage system with tie-down rails, overhead console, cruise control, compass; tinted windows, sport suspension, fog lights, P/50R20 Goodyear Eagle tires on chromed aluminum wheels
Options as tested (MSPR):Travel Convenience Group ($) with an alarm, heavy-duty engine cooling, a Class III trailer hitch receiver, a wiring harness and a full-size spare tire; power sunroof ($); Convenience group ($1,) with rear obstacle detection, auto-dimming rearview mirror, UConnect wireless cell phone link, remote engine starting, eight speakers and subwoofer; Premium Sound group with AM/FM/6 CD/DVD/MP3 stereo ($)
Destination charge:$
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$
Layout:rear-wheel drive
Engine:liter sohc V6
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm): @
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm): @
Transmission:5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:16/21 mpg
Wheelbase: in.
Length/width/height:// in.
Track, f/r:/ in.
Turning circle: ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:// in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:// in.
Cargo volume: cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 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: in.
Curb weigth: lbs.
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc with ABS and brake assist
Fuel capacity: gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of August 8, Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: ADODGE - www.dodge.com
Sours: https://www.newcartestdrive.com/reviews/dodge-nitro/

Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4 review: Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4

Bathed in Sunburst Orange Pearl, the chunky Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4 looks like a child's Tonka truck toy. Hop inside and the SUV's cabin also feels very toylike, with low-grade plastic trimming on every visible surface and a general cheapness to the feel of things that implies disposability.

On the road, the Nitro's liter V-6 makes a lot of noise but doesn't seem to back it up with performance. Adding insult to injury, the R/T's "sport-tuned" suspension did a better job of tossing passengers around the cabin than it did of improving the vehicle's handling.

But in the center of this maelstrom of mediocrity is Dodge/Chrysler's fantastic UConnect media center, a hard-drive-based GPS navigation system that works so well, it seems out of place in a vehicle so overwhelmingly meh.

On the road
The Nitro R/T is an odd vehicle. It looks like a hardy off-roading truck, complete with lockable four-wheel drive. However, the R/T package upgrades (bigger engine, sport-tuned suspension, and meatier tires on inch wheels) seem to indicate that Dodge wants the Nitro to be sporty and nimble, rather than beefy and brutal.

We're inclined to believe that part of the reason buyers look to SUVs is because of their supple suspension components that effortlessly soak up bumps. Nitro R/T buyers are in for a surprise.

The suspension, which is sprung stiffer at each corner than the non-R/T model, did a surprisingly good job of keeping the Nitro relatively flat for high-speed off-ramp blasts when the road was as smooth as glass. However, when bumps and imperfections were tossed into the Nitro's path, the firm suspension transmitted more vibration and body movement into the cabin than we were comfortable with.

The vehicle loudly crashed over potholes with more drama than many large sedans we've recently tested. Hitting a bump while cornering with any sort of spirit set the Nitro bucking back and forth, unsettling the suspension and generally scaring the pants off of everyone in the vehicle.

With the tall ride height and high center of gravity multiplying all of the body movement, we found ourselves being tossed around the cabin when the road got rocky, and passengers complained of motion sickness.

The liter engine was no less disappointing, offering a decent amount of power, but a low level of responsiveness. Each stab of the go-pedal was met with hesitation followed by a raucous engine sound but no acceleration. This is partially the fault of the single-option five-speed automatic transmission's slow shifting, but most of the problem lies with the engine's narrow powerband. As the revs build, acceleration eventually happens, but we often found that by the time the Nitro picked up steam, we'd already given up and lifted the throttle.

In the cabin
Snuggly tucked in the center of a sea of hard, black plastic is one the Dodge Nitro's few bright spots: the UConnect multimedia system with GPS. The system features a inch touch-screen and a 30GB hard drive that serves up map and POI data quickly. The UConnect system features traffic data supplied by Sirius Traffic. A year of service is included as part of a Sirius satellite radio service.

With voice-activation technology, the UConnect system allows you to press a button and verbally choose your destination or call a saved contact. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth hands-free system doesn't automatically pull in your contacts when you pair your phone and, as in previous Dodge vehicles, the button to activate the voice command system is located on the far side of the touch screen's bezel. Is it too much to ask for a steering wheel mounted voice button? There's a dedicated button on the steering wheel to bring up the compass on the multi-information display in the instrument cluster; why not a voice button?

Being hard-drive-based, the UConnect system features space for ripping music from audio CDs and USB devices from the dash-mounted USB port. Unfortunately, the system doesn't allow the playback of files directly from the USB port; instead users must first copy songs to the hard drive, which means you'll have to wait before you can listen to the music on that USB stick. Fortunately, ripping music from USB is quick. We were able to rip 1GB of music (eight albums) in about 12 minutes.

Ripping CDs, on the other hand, is slower going (about 15 to 20 minutes per disc), and if the CD isn't recognized by the embedded Gracenote database, it results in a collection of unnamed WMA files.

In addition to the hard drive, audio sources include a single-disc CD player, AM/FM radio, the aforementioned Sirius satellite radio, and a dash-mounted auxiliary input. Our Nitro R/T was equipped with the available watt Infinity premium sound system with eight speakers plus a subwoofer as part of the connect package. The system tended to favor boomy bass at high volumes that rattles the cheap plastic interior panels, but fortunately it did a good job of placing the soundstage in front of the driver.

Other nice interior touches include an available volt two-prong outlet in the rear of the center for plugging in laptops or portable DVD players, which is good because the Nitro doesn't offer a rear seat entertainment option. The R/T package two-tone orange-and-gray cloth seats are bolstered wide for American rear ends but were quite comfortable for extended rides and, as a bonus, are stain resistant!

In a vehicle as chunky as the Nitro, we'd like to see a reverse camera option, but there isn't one. In its place is Dodge's rear proximity sensor, which beeps if there is an object behind you while in reverse. It works, but it's not as elegant as actually being able to see in the blind spot.

Under the hood
Our Nitro R/T is powered by Dodge's liter V-6, which generates horsepower, pound-feet of torque, and is the most powerful engine available to the Nitro. This engine is paired with a single-option five-speed automatic transmission with Autostick manual shift program. Power is put to all four wheels through a lockable four-wheel drive system.

While the Nitro has an appropriate amount of power for the amount of weight it carries, we're not sure why it takes 4 liters of displacement to generate less horsepower and torque than the liter six-cylinder Toyota Camry. Additionally, the lack of responsiveness often puts that power just outside of the driver's reach, as we saw in the On the road section above.

The Nitro is also available with a horsepower liter V-6 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission at lower trim levels.

The Nitro R/T features a "performance-tuned" suspension, which would be great in a perfect world of super smooth highways. In our real world of potholes and expansion joints, the suspension transmits a good deal of harshness into the Nitro's cabin.

So, she won't win dance competitions and most likely won't win any races, but the Nitro also won't be winning any hyper-miling contests, either. With an abysmal 16 city and 21 highway mpg, the Nitro R/T is miles behind the competition where efficiency is concerned.

Step down to the two-wheel-drive version with liter V-6 for 16 city and 22 highway mpg. Not much savings to be found there. We're sure the archaic four-speed automatic transmission has a lot to do with the poor fuel economy.

In sum
From a performance perspective, the Nitro seems to make pretenses toward sports car performance, but it simply can't bend the laws of physics. Additionally, there are compromises that we'd be willing to deal with in a sports car that we just can't let slide in an SUV. While we can deal with a harsh ride in a sports car, we expect a suppler ride from an SUV. We also expected the liter V-6 to be more beefy with more low-end torque.

Despite subpar cabin materials, the Nitro was able to scratch out a decent cabin comfort score thanks to the availability of the great UConnect technology package.

The Nitro starts at $22, for the entry level SE 4X2 model with the liter V Add $5, to step up to the R/T trim level, which adds the bigger engine, the sport tuned suspension, and the Infinity premium audio. Add another $1, to add the lockable four-wheel drive system which, depending on your climate, you should probably skip. The UConnect hard-drive-based GPS and media center is a must have feature for $2,, but it requires the addition of a $ convenience group, which includes the rear proximity sensor, remote start, and Bluetooth hands-free.

Add $ for a power sunroof and a $ destination fee, and you reach our as tested price of $33, This represents a savings of $6, over similarly equipped competition from Japan--the Nissan Murano SL, for example--but the Nitro's road manners, straight line performance, and quality of materials are inferior to the Murano's by just about every measure.

Viewed in this light, choosing the cheaper Nitro doesn't feel so much like getting a great deal as it does like getting what you pay for.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/reviews/dodge-nitro-review/
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Dodge Nitro Review

The Good

The Dodge Nitro offers a solid frame, a peppy liter engine with a well-regarded five-speed automatic transmission, lots of room, a sliding cargo floor, and best-in-class towing capacity.

The Bad

An unrefined ride, iffy handling, poor fuel economy, and a notable lack of cabin refinement hinder the ’09 Nitro’s capabilities.

The CarGurus View

Those who enjoy rugged looks, decent value, and a capable all-weather vehicle around town will appreciate the Dodge Nitro. For a superior ride, refinement, and overall utility, however, the Nitro lags far behind most of its competitors.

At a Glance

Essentially a carryover from , the Dodge Nitro for receives several updates that indicate Dodge listens to its customers. Floormats, a rear dome lamp, an automatic transmission (no more manual tranny), and auto-unlock doors are all standard for ’ Addressing a common complaint from owners of the ’08 Nitro, the ’09 Nitro lineup offers a re-tuned suspension for better handing as well. A tweaked muffler for the liter V6, a heavy-duty trailer tow package, and improvements in the four-wheel disc brakes are also offered for the ’09 Dodge Nitro.

The Nitro arrives in three trim levels for SE, SLT, and R/T. All trims are available in two- or four-wheel-drive configurations. The base SE replaces the SXT for ’09, and the R/T trim is a brand-new trim that comes with the liter V6, standard, and a five-speed overdrive transmission.

Most professional reviewers find the unique, boxy exterior of the Nitro a distinctive presence in the small SUV market, though it’s a bit too aerodynamically challenged for some. Best-in-class, 5,pound towing capability and a throatier engine growl justify the ’09 Nitro’s aggressive looks. Essentially a Jeep Liberty on steroids, the Nitro looks like a truck and, in the opinion of many reviewers, rides like one as well. Most reviewers find the Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia, and Mazda CX-9 ought to be considered ahead of the Nitro.


 Dodge Nitro

The standard engine for the Nitro SE and SLT is a liter, SOHC V6 that puts out hp at 5, rpm and lb-ft of torque at 4, rpm. Also standard with the SE and SLT is a four-speed automatic transmission. The combination gets an EPA-estimated 16/22 mpg in the RWD trims and 15/21 in the available 4WDs.

Standard with the ’09 Nitro R/T trim and optional with the SE and SLT is a liter V6 grinding out hp at 5, rpm and lb-ft of torque at 4, rpm. The liter V6 is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, and according to the EPA, this drivetrain gets 16/21 in RWD and 16/20 in 4WD.

Many professional reviewers find the liter engine perfectly adequate around town and up to the challenge of handling its 5,pound towing capacity. The new muffler system for the ’09 Nitro has this powerplant sounding right, as well. The liter V6 is noted by most reviewers as just a tad weak for an SUV. In addition, this lackluster engine simply doesn’t provide the fuel efficiency owners would expect.

Ride & Handling

A front independent suspension and a five-link rear solid axle with coil springs supports the Dodge Nitro, but even with some tinkering, ride quality still impresses few professional reviewers. Four-wheel disc brakes across the line give the Nitro the stopping power it needs when tooling around town, and that’s where many reviewers feel the Nitro belongs, on- rather than off-road.

Most reviewers find the truck-like frame of the Nitro not exactly passenger-friendly on bumpy roads. Combine that with a lack of responsiveness in steering, and more than a little body lean in corners, and the consensus is that overall ride quality in the Nitro needs further improvement.

The ’09 Nitro SE comes equipped with standard inch wheels, the SLT with inch wheels, and the R/T rolls on inch wheels. The inch wheels are optional for the SE, and the inchers are available as an option for the SLT. Few reviewers note any of the wheel sizes on the ’09 Nitro as especially effective in taming its somewhat unstable ride.

Cabin & Comfort

For , the Dodge Nitro base SE offers such standard comfort and convenience features as a folding front passenger seat for extra-long items, tilt-wheel steering, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, air-conditioning, a center console, a CD/MP3 player with four speakers, and the Sentry Key anti-theft system. The SLT adds a six-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium dashboard with a vehicle information center, cruise control, remote keyless entry, the Load ‘N’ Go slide-out cargo floor, a universal garage door opener, express up/down front power windows, and heated exterior mirrors.

The ’09 Nitro R/T is equipped with standard foglights, roof-rack side rails, light-tinted solar-glass front windows and deep-tinted rear windows, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, an overhead console, and satin chrome interior accents.

Options for the SE and SLT include, besides the liter engine and five-speed automatic transmission, and inch wheels, respectively, upgraded upholstery and entertainment features, as well as a heavy-duty trailer hitch. SLT and R/T may be equipped with a power sunroof, UConnect hands-free communications with Bluetooth technology, a 6-CD/MP3 player with eight amplified speakers and subwoofer, remote start, a touch-screen DVD navigation screen, and the ParkSense rear backup warning system.

Most reviewers find the standard comfort and convenience features, though plentiful, not up to the standards of the Nitro’s competition. Much of the interior design and material has been described as sub-par, a somewhat common complaint across the Dodge model lineup.


The Dodge Nitro offers, in addition to its sturdy frame, such standard safety features as four-wheel disc ABS, an occupant classification airbag system, supplemental side airbags, a child-seat anchoring system, electronic stability control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, side-intrusion door beams, and the Sentry Key theft deterrent system. Foglights are an optional safety item for the SE trim, as well.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Nitro five stars in front and side impact testing. Because of its rather obvious high center of gravity, however, the Nitro gathered only three stars in rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) judged the ’09 Nitro Good – its highest rating – in front-impact tests, and Marginal – its second-highest rating – in side impact testing.

What Owners Think

Owners of the Dodge Nitro are, by and large, pleased with the rugged styling and relatively high stance of this small SUV. Its size is found ideal for city driving, and its truck-like frame is appreciated for giving the Nitro a solid feel on the road.

Many owners note, however, that the ’09 Nitro gives a harsh ride when off the beaten path and that gas mileage could be vastly improved. Other owner complaints include a sub-standard sound system, less-than-ideal placement of the outside mirrors, a disappointing lack of performance and power from the liter V6, and a few issues with reliability and customer service.

Despite its noted shortcomings, virtually all owners are more than satisfied with the Dodge Nitro, praising its cargo space, family-friendly roominess, 4WD capabilities, and overall value. At least one owner touts the ’09 Nitro as Dodge’s “best vehicle ever.”

Sours: https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Dodge-Nitro-Overview-c
2011 Dodge Nitro Shock - Track Test

Dodge Nitro

Rated with 4 stars
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Robert of Ashland, OR Verified Reviewer
Original review: Dec. 11,

My Nitro is an I bought it from a pawn shop in Southern Oregon. It is a great car. Gets 20 mpg on Highway. I had to Reggie the roof strip on the front. I have put 50k on and am up to so far. I am happy with my SUV. I am 6’5” and it has good legroom. AC and Heater work great. 4x4 is easy to use. The child lock on rear door is a minus as well as no key entry on tailgate was a surprise. Lots is storage in rear and hidden compartments. Good ride!

Rated with 1 star
Patricia of Bolingbrook, IL Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 13,

We bought a brand new Dodge Nitro , the first year in we had braking light issues constantly replacing rear brake lights, then had issues with the starter and water pump replaced along with a new battery. Several years into ownership the rear brakes finally would not work. We had replaced everything possible for the brake lights and finally took it to the dealership and the dealer told us we needed a new TIPM - had that replaced cost $1, After having that replaced needed a toggle switch for the turn signal, cost $, then the regular radio would not work.

After replacing the TIPM, now the car dies out while driving, horn goes off when driving. (disconnected horn) The satellite radio is now making popping sounds. I will never buy a Dodge product again. Dodge was well aware of these computer problems and did not notify the purchasers of the defective computers. I have proof of cost for the repairs and disgusted by the manufacturer to produce such junk. When I complained to the dealership about the issues he laughed and said I have $30, vehicles that won't start, what does that tell you.

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Rated with 1 star
Jay of Other, Other Verified Reviewer
Original review: Nov. 4,

We were on the look out for a SUV style 4x4, went to a private seller who had all service history and a low mileage Nitro, in fact very low, I took it on a test drive for about 25 minutes, driving town and motorway, on the way back it broke down and went into limp mode, the vendor unusually freaked out and said I would have to pay for the apparent damage, I just calmly told him no, got out of his car and walked away. A week later the car was still at the side of the road. DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE CARS! I feel like I have dodged (no pun intended???) a bullet.

Rated with 1 star
Barbara of Houston, TX Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 18,

Bought the Nitro brand new. 1st year driving and stopped at red light. Car shut off. Engine problems. Warranty changed 4 of 6 cylinders, changed aircondition 3 times due to leak and malfunction. car engine broke again less than 50, miles of new engine, head gaskets changed and still check engine light on. Warranty wouldn't pay due to 5 yr powertrain warranty that was not written in warranty contract. Dodge said dealer should have told us and dealer said Dodge should have informed its customers. They only offer and sell the warranty, Dodge enforces it by approval. The pass the buck method. I will never recommend a Dodge. We had family members buy Dodge and I firmly believe Chrysler knows it sold these junk cars and stop productions as they experience all the complaints and repairs.

This company should not be selling their vehicles in the U.S. If they can't back their products or warranty as they stated. They should take them out the market. I know many politicians can and have seen these troubles on many websites but have anyone tried to address this incompetent behavior of scamming the customer with poorly built vehicles. No, the few that are still operational, is a wave of luck, but luck will run out. These vehicles are trash that should have not been sold. By far this is the worst vehicle I have ever purchased and the lifetime warranty is worthless, that's why they discontinued it themselves. They appear to know that their products are bad, expensive to fix and made cheaply.

They put these vehicles like a plastic car kit, when the glue that holds them together wear off they fall apart from engine to exterior and interior. If you want to buy a reliable and safe car don't be support Chrysler, they don't support their customers especially when the dealerships just shake their head when you drive up. They also know. It's all about taking your money because American love beautiful vehicles and they focus on beauty not dependability. Take note from all these complaints. These are everyday people who work hard for their money to be abused by companies they support. Shame on Chrysler for producing a product that is so unreliable and don't want to warrant it themselves.

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Rated with 3 stars
Melissa of Albany, NY Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 21,

The Dodge Nitro is a reliable car, has nearly 90, miles and has only required normal maintenance, is a familiar brand and I've owned two of the same models. It is the size car I needed and wanted and has four wheel drive. It was in my price range but also had the body style I was looking for. And it handles well in the snow. But there aren't a lot built in features or cruise control. Also this model is no longer made making me wonder if there are underlying problems.

Rated with 2 stars
fresca of Ranchos De Taos, NM Verified Reviewer
Original review: May 2,

Dodge Nitro - Power and battery problems and "shorts" in the heater. Add to that unethical dealers and the model was designed to scam "electrical problems". Also starter problems and very panicky in winter.

Rated with 5 stars
Rebeca of Golden, CO Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 7,

I bought my Dodge Nitro May of It had 22 miles on it when I purchased it. It now has , I do not regret buying this car at all, This car has been a very reliable vehicle. It runs well in the snow, I feel safer driving this vehicle in the snow than I do my 4 wheel drive Toyota Tacoma. I have had no problems with the Nitro whatsoever. I just replaced the front brakes for the second time and the back for the 1st. I have kept up with the oil changes and had the transmission serviced at miles. Also had the differential oil changed once at as well.

I Love this car. Maintenance is the key to keeping your car from breaking down. I would rate 98% of the time buying a lemon of a vehicle has something to do with how it was taking care of before you purchased it. I have seen all different styles and makes of new cars on the side of the road broken down. Nothing we buy is perfect. However I do thank all of you for your reviews.

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Rated with 3 stars
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Original review: April 6,

My 08 Dodge nitro 4x4 I'm having the same issue as the other nitro owners. My door locks will unlock but won't lock unless you lock them manually. Transmission won't shift properly on freeway hard to accelerate. Sounds like it wants to bog out. Strains to stay at

Rated with 2 stars
Crystal of Logan, OH Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 14,

I bought a Dodge Nitro two years ago. I've had good and bad experience with it. But recently more bad than good. First off, the turn signals don't work how they should. When you turn on the left the right one will come on and vice versa. Now I found out that the actual ports where the bulbs plug in are burnt and I can only get them replaced by the dealership. I was told it's an electrical issue by my mechanic and that I should check and see if there are any recalls for it. I haven't found any so far. My power locks don't work on one side of my car and there is a miss that for some reason no one at the dealership can figure out. There is also a noise coming from the front end that I've had checked and was told they can't find anything. This vehicle has been more troublesome than I ever intended it to be. Seriously can't wait to get a different vehicle very soon.

Rated with 1 star
Jacqueline of Nortonville, KY Verified Reviewer
Original review: Aug. 19,

Back in February (around tax time) we decided that we needed a good, dependable, roomy vehicle. We were tired of spending $1, to $1, on vehicles that break completely down within six months to a year. We began our search around town. We live in a small town in Hopkins Co. KY Didn't see anything we liked. So we traveled 30 min north to Henderson Ky. to a dealership called Dempewolf Chevrolet. My co-signer (which dealer secretly put it completely in her name) had top notch credit, so obviously the dealer was so anxious to get us into a vehicle. We were looking at cars originally.

Then we saw this cute little suv A Dodge Nitro RT. Had never heard of one. So we decided let's take it for a spin. We get in and it's fully loaded. I'm talking gps, 2 tvs (one in back and the radio is a tv/DVD player/jukebox/navigation), sun roof. Infinity speaker system. You name it it had it. It drove great. Had good puck up, very roomy. We were very impressed. Though the vehicle had , miles on it, we didn't think that was bad for an eight yr old vehicle.

So we signed papers for the truck. Now I say we, but they ended up not putting me on the loan. Without us even knowing. So when the title comes in, my name isn't on it. We then have to go 30 miles back to go to the loan office and add my name to title but title only. So my credit is not building on a vehicle we still owed $8, on. (We put 3, down.)

We immediately got the oil changed and it was actually at the same place the previous owner used. So we had a list showing where they had the oil changed regularly and stuff. So we were excited. Oil filter was clear and all was good there. Thinking wow we have a great vehicle. We were happy customers. Then the little things!!! Radio would go silent for a few hrs here and there. Held a cd hostage for a few days, not big. Then we notice what looks to be water spots around the sun roof and top of windshield. Don't know where it leaks in. Doors would not lock when pushing button on the door. Windows would get stuck on down, but eventually go back up. Headlight just all the sudden went out. Only 3 tire pressure lights work. But little things.

Then after the 5th car payment, it all sudden barely go like no power when foot was on accelerator. Took me 20 min to go 10 ft in reverse to the front of my driveway. Put it in drive and it wouldn't go at all. My boyfriend, son and daughter in law had to push me back in my driveway. I read in owner's manual about this lymph mode. Which is supposed to happen if there is a transmission issue, so that the transmission doesn't tear up. So we begin asking around and googling what could be wrong. Well this vehicle does not have a transmission dip stick. Instead it is capped off. The lid says "dealer use only". So as a consumer you can not check your own fluid.

Well once I found this mysterious non-checking dip stick line I realize it feels loose. On further inspection, it's completely out of the transmission so wtf. We get that put back in. Do the directed process to rest transmission, (getting it out of lymph mode) go to back out of driveway. Terrible winding sound. Still hardly any power but it would get up to 25 mph. But that was it. We turn around and park the truck. Have it towed to local Dodge dealership. Watermark Toyota of Madisonville, Ky. After 3 days of it being in there I get the call saying it's fixed. $ They drained and flushed transmission, replaced the filter. Put a bolt back in where the nonexistent dip stick, dipstick line had lost one. That's why it had came out of tranny. Oh and new headlight and $45 towing bill added in on the total.

My fiance picks the Nitro up, awesome right. Ha!! He goes like a 1/4 mile to the gas station all is well. No check engine light, no transmission light, no winding sound! He fills the truck with gas, which spills out all over him when doing so. He gets back in and goes to head home. The parkway is directly across the street from the gas station. On the on ramp he hears the winding sound start. It shuts down and is back in LYMPH MODE! He then has to go illegally make a u-turn on the parkway, only able to go And drive up the side of the breakdown lane and back to the dealership. Where the lady tells us "well he still had a lot of codes popping up. But you probably need a new transmission." Which to have done there was estimated at $4,

So apparently we paid $ to have the transmission flushed and a new filter on a transmission that supposedly now needs replaced If there are still codes (which is what's supposed to tell them what's wrong) why do they not know! If the tranny is shot then why did the check engine lights and transmission light go off when we first picked it back up? If transmission is shot wouldn't the transmission light and check engine light have stayed on???

So we still owe like $6, on a vehicle that Dodge says PROBABLY needs a $4, new transmission. So what was supposed to be my lasting dependable vehicle, barely lasted 5 mo. $3, down and still owe almost seven thousand! LASTLY KY HAS NO LEMON LAW ON USED VEHICLES! DODGE NITRO IS NOT A GOOD VEHICLE! DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT BUY ONE. NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE! Dodge needs to recall all Nitro and give some sort of reimbursement to the consumers!

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Sours: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/dodge_nitro.html

Nitro reviews dodge 2009

Dodge Nitro

Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year. Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.

Sours: https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/dodge/nitro//overview/
5 things I hate about my dodge nitro

He appeared at the door with a tray containing three glasses of booze, an ashtray, and a cooked cigar. Masha and I looked at each other with hope. He put the tray on the bedside table and spoke: - Okay, girls. I think we need to have a drink before we start discussing all this.

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