Shopping for a new Dodge Nitro?
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The Nitro was rolled out a few years ago as a more aggressively styled, more road-going (and less off-road-focused) vehicle based on the Jeep Liberty. With crisper sheetmetal, distinct Dodge cues, aggressively lipped wheel wells, and bigger wheels, the Nitro has more of a macho tuner look. And it does have some nice proportions from a few paces away.
That's about where our the positives end; the Nitro seems to aspire to be more of a car, but it does it poorly. Its stiff, busy ride won't win anyone over, and it accelerates quickly enough (especially with the larger 4.0-liter V-6) and handles competently but lacks the responsiveness that would make it a great city vehicle.
Seat materials have been updated for 2011, and a newly available Heat 4.0 Package brings Bluetooth and audio upgrades, but the interior remains unimpressive in look and feel compared to other mid-size crossovers priced around $25k, where most Nitros land.
The Nitro hasn't received much else over the past couple of years to broaden its appeal, or to bring its driving feel a little more up-to-date and competitive with top crossovers (like Dodge's own excellent 2011 Journey).
Most other Dodge and Jeep V-6 products—including the Jeep Wrangler—will get the modern new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 for 2012, if they haven't already for 2011. But don't count on it here; with the Nitro's future on the rocks, the slow-selling Nitro is feeling like a placeholder in a still-forming new-Chrysler lineup.