While the Nitro shares some typical crossover features with competitors like the Equinox and even Dodge’s own Journey and Jeep Liberty, what it doesn’t share is typical conservative styling. This boxy beauty (or beast, depending upon your point of view) is a visual class unto itself, and it’s not afraid to admit it with daring colors and bold exterior shaping. If you’re looking for something attention-grabbing and atypical, with the power and functionality of a regular crossover SUV, Nitro might be just the ticket.
Remote keyless entry, power accessories, audio system with auxiliary input jack, and a unique slide-out cargo floor all come standard on this crossover utility vehicle. Optional trims Heat, Detonator, and Shock all add Bluetooth with streaming audio, a bigger engine, and an 8-speaker Infinity sound system.
Changes for 2011
20” wheels adorn the 2011 model year version and the Shock gets a sunroof and leather seating surfaces.
What We Like
The optional hard-drive based navigation and info system with voice operation is a big draw, as is the generously sized rear cabin. The sliding cargo floor holds 400 lbs. and adds significant convenience for loading and unloading. There are enough available tech toys to keep everyone happy, and the price tag won’t give you heart failure. Plus, let’s face it, it just plain feels cool to drive around in something that doesn’t blend in with every other kid – or car – on the block.
What Concerns Us
Because it’s built on the Jeep Liberty platform, the ride feels most like a truck. This makes for a nagging feeling that it could use a more powerful engine or a different transmission.
Base model Heat gets a 3.7L V6 4-speed automatic with 235 lb.-ft. of torque, 210 HP, and 16/22 mpg for RWD, 15/21 mpg for 4WD.
Shock and Detonator variants are outfitted with a 4.0L V6 5-speed automatic with 265 lb.-ft. of torque, 260 HP, 16/21 mpg in both the RWD and 4WD versions.
There were recalls issued in both July 2011 and November 2013, for an incorrectly installed steering column rivet and an electrical problem in the active head restraints. In both cases owners were notified and Dodge made a statement that they would fix the problems at no cost.
There have been several complaints of issues relating to the A/C blower motor, as well as battery and starting problems, and the engine light coming on (in some instances requiring an engine rebuild at low mileage).
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as A Buyer’s Guide to the 2011 Dodge Nitro and was authored by Valerie Johnston.