By Cars.com EditorsMay 7, 2010
About the video
Cars.com's Bill Jackson takes a look at the 2010 Dodge Nitro. It competes with the Nissan Xterra and Suzuki Grand Vitara.
<v Announcer>Cars.com Auto Review. Hi, I'm Bill Jackson. We're here with the 2010 Dodge Nitro. It's kind of a throwback, it's an old school truck-based SUV.
That means you're gonna have to make some trade-offs if you're considering the Nitro, so we're gonna run through some of them right now. Now one thing you usually get with a truck-based SUV is better towing capacity, and the Nitro is no exception. Our test model came with an optional towing package and that bumps its towing capabilities to 5,000 pounds, which is good for the compact SUV segment. Now like I said, there are trade-offs, so you do have that great towing capacity but the other thing about the Nitro is, it's got a pretty beefy suspension, it's truck-based, there's just a lot of weight and where you pay for that is in mileage. This is estimated to get 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 miles per gallon on the highway, that's not very good. So I think you need to think about how often you're gonna drive the Nitro, and how often are you gonna tow with it, and how often you're gonna go off road before you think about buying it. Now again, as you'd expect for all that heavy duty suspension, the ride is a little more firm in this than it is in a car-based SUV. I don't think it's too firm, its just something to check out. Same way with the steering, requires a little more effort than a lot of the other small SUVs are driven. Again, it's not bad, it's just something you wanna check out. Another thing to keep in mind, there's a choice of a 3.7 liter or four liter V6 in all Nitros, and the thing that really separated the two for me was this 3.7 liter that we had only came with a four speed automatic. Normally that's about one gear too few, but really driving a Nitro around, I didn't really miss not having a five speed, but it's one of those things you're gonna want to check out. One thing I will say though, with the 3.7 liter and the four speed automatic, when you go to pass somebody on the highway, you gonna hear it. The acceleration is okay for a small SUV, it's just a little louder than you may be used to otherwise. Obviously, the reason why a lot of people buy a sport utility vehicle is for the utility, and I have to say, I found the second row room in the Nitro to be pretty good. Obviously there's just enough leg room to be comfortable on a medium to long drive, and the cargo area is a nice size. In fact, I was surprised that they didn't try to jam a third row seat back there since they seem to be doing that a lot these days. Now, the last thing about the Nitro, it's got part-time four wheel drive, that means you actually have to throw a switch here to get it. Now, the good part about that is it gives you better traction for off road, the bad part is you really can't drive around all day with the car in four wheel drive, it's just not good for it. And so really what it comes down to with the Nitro are those trade-offs, like I said, you have the good towing capability and the off-road capability, but you get that at the expense of a really great ride and mileage. So, it's kind of aimed at a select group of people, and really you're just gonna have to decide whether you're one of those people. <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog KickingTires.net.