Trucks & SUVs

This Forgotten Dodge SUV Is a Huge Rollover Hazard

Every year, there are tons of vehicles involved in accidents. Whether it’s a frontal crash or a sideswipe, each incident causes injuries to passengers or costly damages to the car. The IIHS and the NHTSA regulate the safety performance of all vehicles consumers buy to ensure each one is the safest possible car, truck, or SUV.

Some of those vehicles pass their tests with flying colors, but some raise red flags. One such test is the rollover rating, which determines the chance the vehicle has to become involved in a rollover accident. The Dodge Nitro, a sister to the Jeep Liberty, falls on the Hot Cars list of hazardous SUVs with huge rollover hazards.

Introduction to the long-forgotten Dodge Nitro

The Dodge Nitro rolled off the production line for the 2007 model year, becoming the automaker’s first compact SUV. It was the only sports utility vehicle in their lineup until 2009 when the Dodge Journey, the crossover SUV, showed up in dealer showrooms.

The Dodge Nitro had a boxy-type styling to it, which looked a bit odd with the long, wider chassis that sat rather low to the ground. Most people don’t remember this vehicle because there was never anything memorable about it. The exterior looks were weird, and the engine didn’t have much gusto to it, so it fell flat when it came to appealing to the masses.

Each new model brought more features to the Nitro, but sales never really took off. That’s not too surprising, considering the Nitro was sort of an epitome of cheapness. Production went quickly with this SUV, and they seemed to have used a lot of inexpensive parts.

Well, it showed, especially in the interior dash and trimmings. The whole inside was hard plastics with inexpensive cloth or leather materials. By December 2011, the Nitro was no longer being produced, and it disappeared from showrooms as well as from most people’s memory.

How it got on the list of rollover hazards

A Model poses next to a Dodge Nitro at the Seoul Motor Show 2007
The Dodge Nitro | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Long before many driver-assist safety features of today came along, vehicles ran on the technology of the time. The 2011 model of the Dodge Nitro didn’t perform well on NHTSA tests for rollover crashes. Their data showed that the Nitro had a 21.9 percent chance of getting into a rollover incident, which is significantly higher than most other SUVs from that time. It wasn’t the worst on the list, but it still ranked right up there with some of the other more dangerous vehicles – the worst one being the Nissan NV3500 from 2017 with a 30.6 percent chance of a rollover accident.

Looking further into this, the IIHS has an even more shocking report with information about the Dodge Nitro. From the years 2008-2011, data showed that there were 40 rollover accidents, the highest of the vehicles they showed in the midsize SUV category. There were also 50 single-vehicle crashes as well as seven multi-vehicle accidents. The overall death count was 51.

Other hazards that rollover causes for the Dodge Nitro

Besides death, which is the worst of all the hazards the vehicle causes, other troublesome results could occur with a rollover accident. The roof pillar has a greater chance of collapsing, which would likely entrap the driver and passengers in the vehicle. Rescuers would have a harder time getting to them to provide any medical aid if needed. Should a fire break out in this situation, this would be life-threatening to the occupants in the SUV.

Since there were some complaints reported with the seatbelts in the Dodge Nitro, a rollover accident would have a higher chance of causing serious injuries. Some owners reported that the driver’s belt wouldn’t latch properly and that it could unbuckle by itself. If this were to occur during a rollover accident, an occupant could be flown from the SUV or crash into the windshield.

The Dodge Nitro is one of those vehicles that people easily forget about since there was nothing about it that made it stand out. With sales dropping and the release of the Dodge Journey, there wasn’t any need to keep producing the Nitro anyway. While some vehicles live on in their retirement as collector cars and trucks, the Nitro simply ceased to exist altogether.