Dodge sparks 2007 Nitro in advance of Chicago debut

Dodge has pulled the virtual sheet on its Nitro mid-size SUV in advance of its Chicago debut later this week. Based on the Jeep Liberty's underpinnings, the baby brawler will slot into the lineup betwixt the halfie Caliber and voluminous Durango.

Out of the box, the Nitro will come standard with a 3.7L, 210-horsepower V6, the same engine shared with its Liberty platform-mate. Unlike the Jeep, however, the Nitro will have an available 4.0L 255-horse V6 in R/T trim (pictured). Poverty-spec Nitros will come with a six-speed manual cogswapper, though a four-speed auto will be on offer. On the upmarket SLT, the latter is the sole transmission available. Those plumping for the big-daddy R/T will have to slake themselves with go and stop pedals-- a five-speed automatic is the only gearbox extant. Nitros will be available in 4x2 and 4x4 trim.

(More details including 12 photos inside-and-out after the jump!)

Features for the Toledo-assembled SUV are to include a raft of safety equipment, including stability control, side-curtain 'bags and anti-lock brakes. The Nitro's favorite party trick is sure to be the "Load 'n Go" moving cargo floor, which slides 18" to aid in loading and unloading. With a max load of 400 lbs., it could make for a fun tailgating proposition as well. When properly set up, the Nitro will tow up to 5,000 lbs., to boot.

Options will include 20" wheels, rear-seat DVD, remote start, a DVD-based sat-nav system with live traffic update, U-Connect (Dodge-speak for Bluetooth) and Sirius satellite radio.

No word on pricing yet, but the least expensive Jeep Liberty stickers at just over $21k.

[Source: AP via Chicago Sun-Times and DaimlerChrysler]

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