The Dodge Nitro has a heavy-duty chassis, a live rear-axle and long travel suspension that make it more of an old-school 4×4 than many of its road-based sports utility vehicle rivals.

Th e styling is inspired by the pick-up trucks that define the Dodge brand. Its bluff-nosed, truck-style front grille with three-dimensional ram’s head badge, 20-inch alloy wheels and massive flared wheel-arches mean it stands out in the European market.

The Nitro is available with a 3.7-litre petrol engine and an easier on the purse-strings 2.8 CRD diesel in two trim grades, SE and SXT.

There are several clever tricks incorporated into the Nitro including Load ‘N Go, a cargo floor that slides out on a ratchet. It also sports YES Essentials seat fabric that is stain, odour, soil and static resistant.


Dodge has stuck with five seats, rather than try to squeeze in seven, so there’s plenty of room for heads and legs.

Interior storage is plentiful with pockets, compartments, door bins and cup holders while the front seats are heavily bolstered for support.

The boot is a good shape and size, but is shallower than many rivals. The 60/40 split rear seats fold to leave a flat space.

The Nitro’s dashboard is straightforward and all-round visibility is fine. The driving position is high so, despite height adjustment for the seat, taller drivers may struggle to make themselves comfortable and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach.

Everything in the cabin feels solidly screwed together and the styling is clean and modern.

The Dodge Nitro’s 3.7-litre engine has 213bhp but is a bit short on low-down pulling power. However, the 2.8-litre diesel is a bit better. The standard six-speed manual gearbox ensures a steady pace when worked hard, and the Nitro has the option of a five-speed automatic gearbox.

The Nitro looks like it will go anywhere, but you have to switch from rear to four-wheel drive manually and there’s no low-ratio gearbox or hill descent system. On the road the Nitro offers a bouncy ride, slack steering and pronounced body roll through bends.

Entry-level SE models are reasonably priced but running costs are comparatively high.

Dodge Nitro

Life Style

The Dodge Nitro’s exterior styling will certainly make an impression on your friends and neighbours as its presence is intended to provoke a response.

This is a sports utility vehicle aimed at those who aspire to driving a Hummer, or want to feel like a kid again rumbling along in a life-size Tonka toy while watching other motorists dive out of their way.

The relatively cheap price-tag of the Dodge Nitro doesn’t mean the use of unbearably cheap materials in the cabin. Instead what you get are very functional wipe-clean, heard-wearing surfaces.

A sophisticated, custom-built multimedia system looks and sounds good. The sat nav’s a bit fiddly to use though and both are extras on higher-end SXT models.

As far as the environment is concerned the Dodge Nitro’s diesel engine carbon dioxide emissions are below average, but the petrol engine will make rainforests everywhere wince.

Security and Safety

Every Nitro has a pair of front airbags and curtain airbags that cover the whole side window area. To help avoid an incident in the first place, there is a stability control system that includes a function to lessen the chance of the car rolling over.

An alarm and deadlocks help to prevent thieves stealing the vehicle.

The Finishing Touches

Standard kit is pretty good on the SE model, with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and four electric windows. There’s a big jump in price to SXT, but you gain masses of cosmetic upgrades – including 20-inch alloy wheels – plus reversing sensors and cruise control.


The Dodge Nitro hopes its explosive name will light the blue touch paper for buyers. It is a no-nonsense, hardy lifestyle vehicle designed to cater for a family’s needs.