Almost everyone has heard the jokes that go around about SUVs. From the amount of gas they consume to the false sense of security that they provide to drivers. Thankfully, however, a large number of sport utility vehicles on the market go out of the way not to fall into these stereotypes and instead create a quality, long lasting product that will serve customers for many years to come. Still though, every so often we come upon a car which seems to fall flat into all of the jokes that have been made for it. While this is rare, often we can get a laugh from looking at it. And one laugh worthy car is definitely the 2007 Dodge Nitro.
Even the exterior of the car speaks to the nature of a joke. The first time that one looks at a Dodge Nitro, they are likely to wonder if any effort at all was put into the design of the vehicle. From the incredible squared look that seems to go all the way to the windshield, to the manner in which every part of the car seems to have been turned into a box, there is really nothing that stands out (in a good way) about the Nitro. However, several design features do stand out, just perhaps not in the way that Dodge intended them too. For starters, the massive fender flares that surround the front and back wheels are enough to just make everything else look slightly awkward, and the faux "grills" located on the front quarter panels just seem a bit off, as if the Nitro is confused as to whether it wants to be a car or an SUV. However, at the same time, the massive square front end, along with incredibly bold chrome design makes sure that everyone for 10 miles knows you are driving a DODGE. With a back end stolen directly from the style of the Jeep Commander, and options such as twenty inch wheels only help to make sure that the Nitro looks in no way, shape or form attractive. One must wonder what the design team at Dodge was thinking when they came up with the box that is the Nitro.
Still though, just open the doors of the SUV, step inside, and, what's that? Yes! More boxes! Anyone hoping that the interior design of the Nitro was going to be better than the outside is also sadly mistaken. Even though one has to purchase the top of the line model to get leather seats, and the steering wheel, center column, vents, and console all seem to be made out of giant squares, one at least has to commend the room. Indeed, there is plenty of room to be had inside the Nitro, the driver never feels cramped, although smaller drivers are likely to feel overwhelmed with so much space. However, those that need to store anything, no matter what it may be, will find ample room in the Nitro, and the easily folding back seats make this task even easier. Dodge should also be commended on making the Nitro an easy car to navigate. Considering that the Nitro is essentially a large box with lots of windows, visibility is great, and may very well be the best in it's class. However, those searching for an interesting or attractive interior may be better off looking in a 1994 Honda Civic, or something of the sort, attractive interiors really don't seem to be a Dodge thing, and the Nitro proves that point excellently.
Even though the inside and outside design may not be much to speak of, perhaps the best test really lies in how the Nitro drives. Let's take this time to make one more joke though, or at least a thought: Shouldn't a vehicle named "Nitro" be able to at least move out of it's own way? The base model SXT and next model up each share the same basic 3.7 liter V6, and although it may be a larger engine, 200 horse power really isn't a lot when talking about moving something as large and cumbersome as the Nitro. Although the 4.0 liter S/T (top of the line model) does much better with 260 horse power, don't expect the base model to be an honest contender with other SUVs in the market in terms of speed. Another area that lacks ability: handling. The Nitro moves around corners and across the road exactly how one would expect a giant box to maneuver. This means that the Nitro really isn't suited to windy roads, nor fast lane changes on the highway.
Also, be sure to avoid falling into the trap that all SUVs are four wheel drive, as the base model Nitro is only two wheel, with a limited four wheel drive that kicks in during emergencies. If you want true four wheel drive, expect to shell out the extra money for one of the higher up models. Add all this to the horrific fuel consumption of the Nitro, which gets around 12 to 14 miles a gallon at the most, depending on driving style, and we have a car which is best avoided. To it's credit though, the Nitro does offer a quiet ride (as long as the windows are up) and it is smooth, even though it may not be the best at changing direction.
In short, there are many, many SUVs on the road, and there is no reason to settle for a vehicle such as the Nitro even though the price may be right. Spend a little more and get a quality car. However, if one must go with a Nitro, or likes the style, than spending the extra $4,000 for the top of the line model is definitely worth it. Even though the Nitro may not be one of the best SUVs on the road, one must at least commend Dodge for attempting to do something different.