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First Test: 2007 Dodge Nitro Concept

Like a Backlit See-Through Nightie, Nitro Leaves Nothing to the Imagination

Mark Williams
Jun 22, 2005
Sometimes OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) designers like to hide their future plans behind swoopy body panels and futuristic interior designs when they show a concept vehicle for the first time. And sometimes they don't.
From the moment the Durango was introduced in 1998, there was talk of a smaller SUV with a Dodge badge. Two years ago, Dodge revealed the M80 compact-pickup concept at the Detroit auto show, and it created a lot of attention, but DCX concluded the vehicle couldn't sell in the numbers needed (reportedly between 80,000 and 100,000 units per year), so the M80 never got the production green light. Fortunately, at the same time the little pickup truck was designed, a Dodge M81 SUV was drawn as well. What didn't make much sense for the sales-flat compact-pickup-truck market seems a better fit for the growing small-to-midsize-SUV segment.
Photo 2/7   |   From the front, the Dodge Nitro carries elements of the new Dodge grille, as do the new Dakota and Ram Mega Cab: large vertical bar, thinner horizontal crosshair, Ram's head in the middle. We think this design, combined with the flat face and rectangular headlights, will carry over into all other Dodge products.
So the company revealed the concept Dodge Nitro, leaving little to the imagination when compared with the coming production version. Featuring many of the same muscular M80 styling cues, the Nitro looks to have the green light, although we've heard DCX lowered its sales needs. For this SUV, the manufacturer expects 40,000 to 50,000 units per year.
The Nitro is based off the Jeep Liberty platform, stretched four additional inches with a slightly wider track. Styling is powerful and functional with the large signature fender flares and solid stance. The roof and hood lines are lower and flatter than its sibling Liberty's, with a boxier overall look to it (ironically similar in shape to the extinct Jeep Cherokee, which the Liberty replaced). Exterior details like the rectangular headlights and side vents work well to define the Nitro's character, and the interior look offers a much improved, cleaner design than we've seen coming from Dodge or Jeep.
Photo 3/7   |   From the rear, the the clean-lines theme continues with a single swing-up rear door. Notice the prominent 4x4 logo that Dodge allows on the tailgate, even though the concept is designated an all-wheel-drive vehicle. With a longer wheelbase and track width, we'd assume the Nitro will tow just as well as the Liberty.
The center navigation screen and robust transmission shifter complement the rugged and functional feel as well. Although it does cut into cargo-carrying capacity, and we don't think it will make it to production, a sliding rear-storage platform is a clever idea. Expect pricing to hover between $23,000 and $27,000. Look for production numbers to be limited for the first year, as Jeep has to modify the Toledo, Ohio, plant to accommodate another line.
Photo 4/7   |   Like most concepts, this version of the interior may not make it to production; however, if ever there was a concept vehicle that Dodge should fight to keep close to the original vision, this may be the one. In this segment, it will be critical to keep materials top-notch.
Photo 5/7   |   Inside, triple-barrel gauges use white-face backing with electroluminescent lighting. Red pointers are supposed to reflect technical precision. A satin silver center stack, door handles, and other various highlights continue the functionally precise accents.
Photo 6/7   |   The extra four inches of wheelbase are put into second-row legroom. The concept Nitro interior uses black leather and suede-like red inserts, a pairing that will not be a production option. Although dramatic with simulated brushed aluminum, it's probably not what Dodge buyers look for.
Photo 7/7   |   Like an oversize slide-out drawer in a NASCAR team rollout tool chest, the sliding carrier tray solves the problem of getting heavier loads closer to the edge of the door sill. The floor in the cargo area, as well as the rest of the vehicle, is made of dimple rubber for grip and durability.
2007 Dodge Nitro Concept
Location of final assemblyToledo, Ohio
Body style4-door, 5-pass SUV
EPA size classLight truck (midsize SUV)
Drivetrain layoutFront engine, AWD
AirbagsDual front
Engine type90o V-6, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.66 x 3.57
Displacement, ci/L 225/3.7
Compression ratio 9.1:1
Valve gear SOHC, 2 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Multipoint
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 210 @ 5200
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 235 @ 4000
Transmission type 42RLE four-speed automatic
1st 2.84:1
2nd 1.57:1
3rd 1.00:1
4th 0.69:1
Reverse 2.21:1
Axle ratio 3.73:1
Final-drive ratio 2.57:1
Transfer-case model NV140
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded
Wheelbase, in 108.3
Length, in 179.7
Width, in 73.1
Height, in 69.2
Track, f/r, in 61.0/61.0
Front overhang, in 28.9
Rear overhang, in 41.6
Ground clearance, in 7.8
Cargo volume, 2nd row up, cu ft 32.3
Cargo volume, 2nd row down, cu ft66.9
Base curb weight, lb 4115
Payload capacity, lb 1485
GVWR, lb 5600
GCWR, lb 9850
Towing capacity, lb 5000
Fuel capacity, gal 20.5
Suspension, f/r IFS, coil spring/solid axle, five-link
Wheels 20.0x7.5 cast aluminum
Tires 255/50R20 Michelin 4x4 Diamaris
0-60 mph, sec 9.6 (est)
Quarter-mile, sec @ mph 16.9 @ 81.4 (est)
Top speed, mph 110 (est)
Price $26,000 (est)



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