Trucks & SUVs

What Happened to the Dodge Nitro?

Some SUV styles seem to be a recipe for success. Jeep’s boxy-figured Liberty was the not-so-distant cousin of another less popular SUV, that seemed to have all of the ingredients. The familiar styling of Dodge mixed with the base of the Liberty to create a capable off-road SUV. It was called the Dodge Nitro, but many people seemed to have forgotten it even existed. On a short production run, the Nitro was far from being Dodge’s most popular vehicle.

The forgotten Dodge Nitro

The Dodge Nitro was based on the already popular Jeep Liberty, but of course, with some iconic Dodge twists. There were only six models years ever produced, and even though the SUV isn’t all that old, they are still pretty uncommon. It was the first compact sport utility vehicle in the Dodge lineup since the 1990s and was designed to fit consumers looking for such a vehicle.

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

Problems, problems, and more problems

There were more than a few reasons consumers didn’t fall in love with the Dodge Nitro. For one, there are several recalls on the vehicle regardless of the model year. It had a rough and unpleasant ride quality paired with a loud cabin that made it feel anything but comfortable. The interior was very lackluster and filled with inexpensive materials, keeping it pretty basic all around. But, for the price, the Dodge Nitro was pretty much exactly what you paid for.

It wasn’t a vehicle that was known for being incredibly reliable, but once some minor problems were resolved many others did end up liking their Nitro. Still to this day many owners have a lot of positive things to say about the forgotten Dodge SUV. Maybe the real problem is that drivers have become so accustomed to luxury that having something as standard as the Nitro wasn’t the right fit.

A red 2007 Dodge Nitro sits on display indoors.
The 2007 Dodge Nitro SLT/RT | Photo by David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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A strong fan base

There are still a lot of owners that loved about the Dodge Nitro. For one, it was an affordable option for a capable SUV, which was offered in all-wheel drive and had more space than it’s competition, the Jeep Liberty. The Nitro also came with the option for a modest 3.0-liter V6 or a stronger 4.0-liter V6 engine on the higher trim levels.

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Regardless of the quality problems with the Dodge Nitro, it was, and still is, a unique and affordable option for a very capable SUV. With the option for a larger displacement 6-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, this SUV can do everything the Jeep Liberty could, with even more Dodge Style. While it was cut from production seemingly as quickly as it began, the Nitro lives on in the hearts and garages of off-road enthusiasts.

For the price at the time, the Dodge Nitro had a surprising amount to offer, and it is a shame to have seen it gone so soon. Even today you can find the Dodge Nitro for under $10,000 even in excellent condition. You might just need to have realistic expectations for the car’s true purpose before you take it for a test drive.