2008 Dodge Nitro

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2008 Dodge Nitro Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Dodge Nitro was new.

The Nitro shines for its aggressive styling, excellent towing capabilities and functional cargo space, but it ranks near the bottom of its class because it can't match the value or performance of its competitors.

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.7
Performance: 6.0
Interior: 6.3
Safety: 8.4
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Unique, aggressive styling
  • Class-leading towing capacity
  • Innovative interior features and options
  • Poor ride and handling for its class
  • Underpowered base engine
  • Low-grade interior materials

2008 Dodge Nitro Overview

Introduced in 2007, the Dodge Nitro remains relatively unchanged for 2008. In addition to three new exterior colors, it features a few more options, including a ParkSense rear assist system and Trailer Sway Control. Though the Nitro comes with some innovative interior features, reviewers say it suffers from the use of cheap materials.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram calls the Nitro "a very nice sport utility in its own right, and while Dodge has not been promoting it as a crossover, its unibody construction and smooth on-road manners actually do qualify it for that designation." The Nitro shares a platform with the redesigned 2008 Jeep Liberty, though several reviewers note that may be a disadvantage due to the Nitro's stiff ride. Those looking for a smoother-riding offering from Dodge can wait for the 2009 Journey, a new compact crossover.

The Nitro measures near the middle of its class for fuel economy, hurting the vehicle in a year when gas prices are reaching record highs.  Nitro sales have been slow through the first half of 2008.

The Nitro comes in three trims -- the base SXT, the SLT and the high-performance R/T -- in either rear- or four-wheel drive.

  • "So, yes, the Nitro is ultimately lacking a little refinement, and, yes, there are traces (especially in the droning V-6's lackluster throttle response) of warmed-over Liberty bits. But mostly, the Nitro's on-road personality is a fun one: purpose-oriented and happily trucklike but still entertaining when the road goes all twisty." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Dodge took a Jeep Liberty and slapped on new sheetmetal, new interior, slightly longer suspension arms and then, as the Germans say, Achtung!, you got yourself a whole new profit center." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Lows: Jeep Liberty handling, Jeep Liberty ride, not a Jeep Liberty price." -- Car and Driver
  • "It turns out that the thing actually has something approaching character. For one thing, it is the first Dodge product I've driven in years that was absolutely flawless in the things that count -- fit, finish, interior design and comfort, and overall utility." -- Washington Post
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