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2009 Dodge Nitro Review

The 2009 Dodge Nitro has bold styling, but poor fuel economy ratings, an unimpressive interior and poor performance push it toward the bottom of the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Good towing capacity
  • Standard V6 engine
  • Lackluster performance
  • Low fuel economy for its class
  • Low-grade interior materials




Critics' Rating: 6.7
Performance: 6.8
Interior: 6.9
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
Safety: 8.6
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Dodge Nitro Overview

The majority of auto critics were underwhelmed by the 2009 Dodge Nitro’s performance. Still, if you’re searching for a used compact SUV with excellent towing capabilities, the Nitro is worth a look, with a capacity that maxes out at 5,000 pounds. Even with a V6 engine, reviewers thought the Nitro felt slightly underpowered compared to rivals. When it was new, test drivers found the Nitro’s handling to be decent, but said the ride is rough, even in the sport-tuned R/T model. The Nitro is near the bottom of the class in terms of fuel economy.

When it was new, the Nitro offered some innovative features, like a touch-screen navigation system, but reviewers complained about the quality of interior materials, noting that there were too many hard plastics lining the Nitro’s cabin. Most said that the Nitro was spacious up front, but thought that the rear seats were a bit cramped for adults. However, reviewers liked the available cargo tray that allows for easier loading and unloading of items. Standard features include 60/40-split rear seats, a four-speaker stereo system with satellite radio and air conditioning. Available features include a 6.5-inch touch-screen interface with Uconnect navigation, leather upholstery and rear park assist.  

Overall, reviewers felt that the Nitro’s downsides outweighed its few positives and recommended most other 2009 compact SUVs more strongly than the Nitro.

See the full 2009 Dodge Nitro specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you’re considering the Nitro, the 2009 Honda Element is worth a look. Reviewers liked the Element’s vast cargo space and versatility when it was new. In terms of performance, reviewers said that the Element provides a smooth, competent ride, unlike the Nitro’s rough ride. The Element has a strong safety score and gets better fuel economy than the Nitro, but has a smaller engine. If you need more towing capabilities, stick with the Nitro.

The highly-ranked 2009 Chevrolet Equinox is a solid all-around compact SUV that offers a spacious and quality interior. Reviewers thought that the Equinox accelerated well and had good power when it was new. The Equinox gets better fuel economy, but is less powerful than the Nitro.

Compare the Nitro to the Element and Equinox »

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