Dodge officially unveiled the new Nitro today in Chicago, and Autoblogger-on-the-spot John Neff sent us a raft of photos and specs on the new, mid-sized SUV. (That's the R/T model shown above.)

Dodge continued its Chicago trend of unveiling innovative storage and packaging solutions (see the Rampage concept truck post) with an easy-loading roll-out storage area floor behind the Nitro's rear seats.

With a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lb, and a choice of a 210 hp 3.7-liter V6 or the R/T model's 255 hp 4-liter V6, the Nitro looks like a promising contender. Export versions of the Nitro will have diesel power available in 2007.

Full specs and more pics after the jump.


DODGE TO IGNITE MID-SIZE SUV MARKET:
INTRODUCES ALL-NEW 2007 DODGE NITRO

•    First Mid-Size SUV for Dodge
•    Distinctive Style, Sporty Performance and Cargo Flexibility
•    Offers Full-Size Capability in a Mid-Size SUV

The Dodge brand — which is no stranger to creating innovative automotive products and features — is spicing up the mid-size SUV segment with the 2007 Dodge Nitro, a new sport-utility vehicle whose bold and aggressive styling matches its dynamic performance.

“The Dodge Nitro’s styling delivers something extra; that little something mid-size buyers are still searching for — attitude,” said George Murphy, Senior Vice President – Global Marketing. “In addition, the Dodge Nitro offers many features that are not typical of a mid-size SUV, such as two V-6 engines, 20-inch tires and chrome-clad aluminum wheels and a performance suspension.”

The 2007 Dodge Nitro is the first mid-size sport-utility vehicle for Dodge and complements the brand’s current lineup of cars, minivans, trucks, commercial vehicles and a full-size SUV.

“Being the first mid-size SUV for the brand, Dodge Nitro had to personify the bold, powerful and street-smart attitude of Dodge,” said Murphy. “In a world of mostly bland SUVs, the 2007 Dodge Nitro has the design, engineering and performance to inspire consumers and ignite the mid-size SUV market.”

Three models are available: Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T. Available on the Dodge Nitro and Dodge Nitro SLT is a 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 engine. It produces 210 hp (157 kW) @ 5,200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. (319 N•m) @ 4,000 rpm. The Dodge Nitro R/T features a new 4.0-liter V-6 engine that delivers 255 hp (190 kW) @ 5,800 rpm and 275 lb.-ft. torque (360 N•m) @ 4,000 rpm. Standard on the Dodge Nitro R/T and optional on the Nitro SLT is a new performance suspension and 20-inch tires and chrome-clad aluminum wheels, providing performance-oriented drivers with fun-to-drive handling and a firm ride.

Three transmissions — one manual and two automatic — will be offered. The Dodge Nitro comes with a standard six-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. The Dodge Nitro SLT has a standard four-speed automatic. The Dodge Nitro R/T has a standard five-speed automatic. All U.S. models offer 4x2 and 4x4 capability. The new mid-size SUV boasts excellent acceleration, braking, handling and towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. when properly equipped.

Standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T is a new Chrysler Group feature, the LOAD ’N GO™ cargo floor that slides 18 inches rearward for easy and convenient loading and unloading of packages, and can hold up to 400 pounds. It is made of a heavy-duty plastic for easy cleaning. A compact utility table is an available option on the Dodge Nitro model.

The Dodge Nitro also includes many standard safety features, including Electronic Stability Program, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Roll Mitigation and side-curtain airbags.

Available options include a DVD-based navigation system with traffic data update, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, AM/FM/6-disc/DVD/MP3 audio with premium speakers with a subwoofer, remote start, UConnect, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

“With its performance-oriented 4.0-liter engine and LOAD ’N GO cargo floor, the Dodge Nitro continues the brand’s history of creating new and game-changing products and features,” said Murphy.

There was the 1992 Dodge Viper, for example. The outrageously sculpted and brutishly powerful sports car turned heads, palpitated hearts and became the icon of the brand.

In 1994 the big-rig design of the Dodge Ram pickup truck instantly made every other pickup truck in its class boring.

And the Stow ’n Go® seating system, introduced in the 2005 model year Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, reasserted Chrysler Group’s leadership position in that market.

“Just like those innovations, the 2007 Dodge Nitro will reinvigorate its segment, the mid-size sport-utility market,” said Murphy.

Chrysler Group previously announced that the Dodge brand will expand to Europe and volume markets overseas, and the Dodge Nitro will be part of that expansion. The vehicle will be available in markets outside North America, in both left- and right-hand drive, by the first quarter of 2007.

The 2007 Dodge Nitro will be built at the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant alongside the Jeep® Liberty. Dodge Nitro will arrive in U.S. dealerships later in 2006 as a 2007 model year vehicle.

With a U.S. market share of 6.9 percent, Dodge is the fifth-largest nameplate in the United States and the eighth-largest nameplate in the automotive industry. In 2004, Dodge sold more than 1.4 million vehicles in the global market. Dodge continues to lead the minivan market segment with a 20 percent market share in the United States. In the truck market, Dodge has an 18 percent market share. In the car market, Dodge has a 4.5 percent market share. The Dodge brand will arrive in Europe and other volume markets outside of North America starting in 2006.

2007 DODGE NITRO:
DESIGNED TO IGNITE THE MID-SIZE SUV SEGMENT

•    Design is Unlike Any Mid-Size SUV on the Road Today
•    Functional and Flexible for People and Cargo
•    Three Models — Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT, Dodge Nitro R/T

When it came to creating the first Dodge mid-size sport-utility vehicle, Dodge designers wanted to do more than capture the spirit of the Dodge brand — they wanted to ignite the mid-size SUV segment.

They accomplished the first part of their mission by creating the all-new 2007 Dodge Nitro, an SUV with a bold, powerful, street-smart exterior design and functional and spacious interior. It’s the kind of Dodge-to-the-core design that makes part two of the mission — firing up the mid-size SUV market — just a matter of time.

“The Dodge Nitro’s bold styling and aggressive stance is what makes the vehicle stand out in a crowd,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President – Chrysler Group Design. “The Nitro’s design characteristics are unlike those of any mid-size SUV on the road today, making it attractive to customers seeking distinctive style, sporty performance and cargo flexibility.”

The new SUV is based on the Dodge Nitro concept unveiled at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show and will be available in three models — Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T.

EXTERIOR DESIGN

To achieve a distinctive, bold overall appearance unlike anything in its segment, Nitro designers introduced design elements and themes that were strong and confident. These characteristics proportion the vehicle like no other in its class — the result is the unmistakable Dodge Nitro with its purposeful, capable and assertive stance.

Intrinsic to every Dodge vehicle is the bold crosshair grille. It is just one of the many design elements that define the cool persona and tough attitude of Dodge Nitro. Body color on the Dodge Nitro R/T and chrome on the Dodge Nitro and Dodge Nitro SLT, the grille is emblazoned with a hefty three-dimensional ram’s head. Jewel-like rectangular headlamps that prominently wrap the corners of the vehicle and a clamshell hood with strong character lines complete the front-end.

The side of the vehicle features a deep-body section and high beltline which add to the vehicle’s confident appearance. Chrome vents positioned on each front fender add to the vehicle’s modern design and contemporary flair. The short front and rear overhangs, not typical of a mid-size SUV, contribute to the vehicle’s forceful expression. The wheels, pushed to the corners to further convey Nitro’s confident stance, are surrounded by bold, powerful-looking wheel arches. Standard on the Dodge Nitro R/T and optional on the Dodge Nitro SLT are 20-inch tires and chrome-clad aluminum wheels.

The side-view mirrors are designed to reflect the personality of the vehicle. They were developed in the Chrysler Group wind tunnel in Auburn Hills, Mich., in conjunction with the form of the A-pillar. The result is an aerodynamically efficient design that minimizes wind noise, helping to create a quieter cabin.

The vehicle’s door handles have a solid, strong feel and are easy to grip, even with a gloved hand. In the center of the door handle is a deep, horizontal groove, a design cue that is repeated inside on the map pocket, door panels and instrument panel.

Dodge designers chose to black-out the C-pillar of the vehicle which makes the second-row and rear-windows appear more horizontal, amplifying the vehicle’s sporty nature.

The rear of the vehicle, consistent and balanced with the overall design, features beveled taillamps and a lighted license visor.

The Dodge Nitro is designed to help expand the Dodge brand’s presence in markets outside North America. The front fascia, headlamps, rear fascia and taillamps are designed to meet international requirements.

INTERIOR DESIGN

The interior of the five-passenger Dodge Nitro is spacious, functional and flexible for people and cargo. The headliner is shrink-wrapped to allow maximum headroom and there is plenty of leg room for first- and second-row passengers.

A three-pod, four-gauge instrument cluster is designed for right- or left-hand drive. The chunky steering wheel gives the driver a perception and feeling of a bigger vehicle.

Brushed silver accents appear on the door handles, center console, gear shift and HVAC controls. The Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T receive additional chrome detail on the steering wheel, instrument cluster, first-row grab handle and center console. The gear shifter and control buttons are substantial in size and bold by design.

Storage space is maximized throughout the vehicle. The center console storage bin is deep and wide enough to house CDs or DVDs and has a tray that sits atop it for additional storage. The center console offers three spaces that can accommodate hand-held PDAs, cell phones or coins. The driver- and passenger-side doors each have deep compartments; behind the driver’s seat is a wide and easy-to-reach map pocket. Two cup-holders are located in the first and second rows of the vehicle.

The Dodge Nitro features a new seat structure which is firm and robust, perfect for long road trips. A choice of vinyl or cloth seats is also available on the Dodge Nitro model. Leather seats are available on the Dodge Nitro R/T and SLT models.

Standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT is the new YES Essentials® cloth seats, and advanced seating upholstery that offers Chrysler Group’s customers three key benefits: repelling stains, controlling odor and reducing static electricity. The fabric technology is designed to withstand endless cleanings — even repeatedly in the same location — and will not rub off or change the texture or comfort of the seats or surfaces during ownership of the vehicle. The upholstery also controls bacteria-based odors inside the vehicle.

The Dodge Nitro has a fold-flat front passenger seat, as well as fold-flat second-row seats. The second-row seats also recline for added passenger comfort. Standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T is the LOAD ’N GO™ cargo floor which slides 18 inches rearward for easy and convenient loading and unloading of packages. The LOAD ’N GO cargo floor can hold up to 400 pounds and is made of a heavy-duty plastic for easy cleaning. Standard on the Dodge Nitro model is a reversible load floor, and a compact utility table is optional.

The Dodge Nitro features two new exterior colors — Sunburst Orange and Electric Blue. Also available will be Inferno Red, Light Khaki, Bright Silver, Black and Stone White.

THE ALL-NEW 2007 DODGE NITRO:
ENGINEERED FOR PERFORMANCE, POWER AND HANDLING

•    Two V-6 Engine Offerings — 4.0-Liter and 3.7-Liter
•    All-New Independent Front, Five-Link Rear, and Performance Suspensions
•    Excellent Acceleration, Braking, Handling and Towing

In a world of mostly bland SUVs, the 2007 Dodge Nitro has the engineering and performance needed to ignite the mid-size SUV market. The new mid-size SUV boasts excellent acceleration, braking, handling and towing (5,000 lbs.).

There are three models — Dodge Nitro, Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T. Three transmissions — one manual and two automatic — will be offered. The Dodge Nitro comes with a standard six-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. The Dodge Nitro SLT has a standard four-speed automatic. The Dodge Nitro R/T has a standard five-speed automatic. All three U.S. models offer 4x2 and 4x4 capability. And, for those looking for sportier handling, a new performance suspension is standard on the Dodge Nitro R/T and is an available option on the Nitro SLT.

“The Dodge Nitro R/T with the 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine, performance suspension and 20-inch tires and wheels redefines the mid-size SUV driving experience,” said Craig Love, Vice President – Rear-wheel-drive Product Team and RWD Core Team Leader. “Whether customers are looking for sporty performance or dynamic ride and handling, the all-new 2007 Dodge Nitro delivers.”

TWO POWER-PACKED ENGINES

4.0-LITER SOHC V-6

The performance-oriented 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine is designed to provide the power and torque required to make the Dodge Nitro a leader in the mid-size SUV segment. The 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine delivers 255 hp (190 kW) @ 5,800 rpm and 275 lb.-ft. torque (360 N•m) @ 4,000 rpm. It is an enhanced version of the 3.5-liter engine used in prior Chrysler Group vehicles. The engine provides more power and torque than the prior 3.5-liter with emphasis on low- and mid-range operation to meet the needs of the day-to-day driver. It also incorporates a number of refinement features to make it one of the quietest engines of its size in the market.

The 4.0-liter engine is standard on the Dodge Nitro R/T model.

3.7-LITER SOHC V-6

The 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 engine provides the 2007 Dodge Nitro with a standard engine that is efficient, durable and smooth. It produces 210 hp (157 kW) @ 5,200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. (319 N•m) @ 4,000 rpm. Refinements in the valve train and combustion chamber, working together as a system, enhance low-speed torque while providing a smooth idle and minimal engine noise. A sophisticated Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system tailors throttle response to pedal movement based on operating conditions, and maintains a consistent vehicle speed on rolling grades when cruise control is active.

The 3.7-liter V-6 is standard on the Dodge Nitro and Dodge Nitro SLT models.

For key diesel markets outside North America, the Dodge Nitro will be offered with a diesel engine in 2007.

ALL-NEW SUSPENSION SYSTEM DELIVERS SPORTY PERFORMANCE AND DYNAMIC HANDLING

The Dodge Nitro features an all-new independent front suspension and an all-new five-link rear suspension. The independent front suspension gives the driver an optimum combination of ride, handling and steering, providing a greater sense of control and precision. The solid five-link rear suspension, including upper and lower trailing links and track bar, provides higher lateral stiffness for vehicle responsiveness and outstanding handling. Ample suspension wheel travel is provided to maintain consistent ride quality, especially when the vehicle is loaded or towing a trailer.

Performance-oriented drivers will want the new performance suspension offered on the Dodge Nitro R/T and SLT models. Here the emphasis is on responsive, fun-to-drive handling accompanied by a firm ride. This system features a revised sway bar, springs, shocks, bushings and 20-inch tires and wheels for improved cornering and increased traction.

Effort, feel and response on the Nitro’s rack-and-pinion steering system is tuned to give the driver precise control and positive feedback from the steering force exerted by the tires. The steering linkage design allows for a tighter turning circle.

TRANSMISSIONS OFFER QUIETNESS AND HIGH QUALITY

Three transmissions are offered on the Dodge Nitro: a six-speed manual transmission, a four-speed automatic and a five-speed automatic.

The six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Dodge Nitro 4x2 and 4x4 models with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine. It provides optimal shift quality, improved quietness and high quality. For smooth operation, first and second gears have triple-cone synchronization, the third and fourth gears feature double-cone and the fifth and sixth gears single-cone synchronization. Hard-finished gears allow for quiet operation. A multi-rail, steel-construction shift system delivers high strength and precision. The two-piece aluminum case with integrated clutch housing assures powertrain stiffness and low weight. The new first-gear ratios combined with six-speed step spread allows optimization of axle ratios for fuel economy and performance.

Transmission ratios for the six-speed manual are:

1st    4.46    4th    1.25    Reverse    4.06
2nd    2.61    5th    1.0
3rd    1.72    6th    0.84

The four-speed automatic transmission is optional on the Dodge Nitro and standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT. Line pressure within the transmission is based on demand for improved fuel efficiency.

Transmission ratios for the four-speed automatic are:

1st    2.84    3rd    1.0    Reverse    2.21
2nd    1.57    4th    0.69

The five-speed automatic transmission is mated to the 4.0-liter V-6 engine. The five-speed transmission features Electronic Range Select (ERS) driver interactive shift control. The shifter provides fully-automated shifting when in the Drive position, or the driver can manually select each gear by simply moving the shifter left and right from the Drive position. This gives the driver control to precisely match any on-road driving requirement.

Transmission ratios for the five-speed automatic are:

1st    3.59    3rd    1.41    5th    0.83
2nd    2.19    4th    1.0    Reverse    3.16

PART-TIME AND FULL-TIME FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEMS

The Dodge Nitro 4x4 features a standard part-time four-wheel drive system with the manual transmission and a full-time all-wheel drive system with automatic transmissions.

Two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive modes are electronically controlled by a switch in the center console which can be selected at any time with the part-time four-wheel drive system. The full-time all-wheel drive system does not have a 2WD mode and has no console switch.

EXCELLENT BRAKING CAPABILITY

Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes are standard on the Dodge Nitro. The vehicle’s larger rotors contribute to its excellent stopping and handling capability. Front rotors have inverted hat construction (vent openings are on the outboard side of the rotor) to improve cooling compared to conventional inboard venting. This also helps to minimize high-temperature deformation for long-term smooth operation.

A Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) is standard on the Dodge Nitro. BTCS transfers torque from one wheel to another on the same axle when wheel slip conditions are detected.

Also standard on the Dodge Nitro is the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) which aids the driver in maintaining vehicle directional stability in severe driving maneuvers on any type of surface. Using signals from sensors throughout the vehicle, ESP determines the appropriate brake and throttle adjustments for directional stability of the vehicle.

The Dodge Nitro also includes many standard safety features, including Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Roll Mitigation and side-curtain airbags.

The 2007 Dodge Nitro will be produced at the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant.


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