2007 Dodge Nitro Test-Drive Tips

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Mike Hanley just posted his full review of the all-new Dodge Nitro R/T. The Nitro is a very important product for Dodge, giving the company a masculine midsize SUV that is definitely competitive in the marketplace, but it isn’t for everyone. Here are some tips if the Nitro’s brawny looks draw you into the showroom for a test drive. 

  • Do some research ahead of time to figure out what the different trim levels mean and how much they cost. Names like SXT, SLT and R/T can be confusing. Knowing that SXT is the cheapest and R/T the most expensive, with the largest engine, will force you to narrow down your shopping. The SXT has gray plastic molding along the bumpers and bottom of the fenders that may look cheap to some.
  • Do you need four-wheel drive? If you don’t live in a cold-weather climate and don’t plan on going off-roading, save your money. Opting for the 4×4 on any of the trims costs roughly $1,500 more.
  • Choose the gray interior. Rarely will we tell shoppers what colors to pick, but in Chrysler vehicles the dark gray interiors hide the poor quality of the plastic much better than the khaki. It sounds weird, but trust us — they look worlds apart.
  • There are some expensive options on the Nitro, like the MyGIG entertainment and navigation system, which allows you to play downloaded music and even rips CDs straight from the car stereo. It’s a nifty system with a huge price tag: $1,895. Unless you’re a tech geek, this may be overkill. An upgraded stereo with a six-disc changer only costs $395, the sunroof is $895 and 20-inch wheels cost $1,405. That’s a lot more bang for your buck.
  • Feel out the corners. We’re often surprised when a big SUV feels smaller to the driver than it really is, like the new Chevy Tahoe. The Nitro does not. Its long hood is deceptive and appears larger than it should. This perception problem could either prove annoying or offer a sense of added safety.
  • Try out the windows. First look out the front windows. Do they seem small to you? They’re not very tall and give the cabin a closed-off feel that is slightly claustrophobic. We didn’t have any blind spot issues with the rear windows, but it’s still important to check your visibility while on the test drive.
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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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