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Dodge Nitro STX 2007 review

Going undercover is, after all, about blending in, becoming part of the crowd and attracting as little attention as possible.

Looking at Nitro you get the feeling that designers had something different in mind.

The brash American five-seat wagon attracts plenty of comment with its oversized wheels, pumped-out guards and big, blunt “cow-catcher” front end.

There's no missing Dodge's trademark, chrome crosshair grille either.

Nitro comes with a 3.7-litre petrol V6 or a 2.8-litre turbo diesel.

Our test vehicle was the top of the line SXT diesel priced from $43,490.

The diesel adds $3500 to the price, but this also buys a five-speed auto with sequential mode instead of the standard four-speed.

Nitro sits on the same platform that will underpin the forthcoming Jeep Cherokee, with a part-time four-wheel drive system that is not suitable for dry bitumen roads.

Unless you hit the switch it remains rear-wheel drive.

This negates the benefits of all-wheel drive and, with no low range gearing its off-road ability is also restricted.

The in-line four-cylinder turbo diesel produces 130kW of power at 3800rpm and 460Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

Impressive figures but, as the SXT tips the scales at just under two tonnes, it's not the fastest cab off the rank, with 0-100km/h taking 10.5 seconds.

Both petrol and diesel models are rated to tow the same braked 2270kg.

But the diesel remains the better bet with 146Nm more torque, delivering dividends in driveability and fuel economy.

With a 70-litre tank, fuel consumption is rated at 9.4 litres/100km, but our test vehicle proved thirstier than this at 11.4 litres/100km or about 600km to the tank.

Nitro is described as a medium-sized sports utility vehicle and goes head to head with Ford's Territory and the Holden Captiva.

In reality, it's a rather snug fit inside.

Taller drivers will find getting in and out of the cab awkward unless they remember to duck.

Rear leg room is good, but at the expense of load capacity and it can be a squeeze for three adults across the back seat.

The luggage area itself features a trick slide-out floor for easier loading.

Although Nitro is targeted mainly at road users, drivers expecting car-like ride and handling will be disappointed.

The ride is harsh with plenty of old-fashioned, 4x4 rock and roll and the solid rear axle can become skittish if it encounters a bump mid-corner.

The SXT model comes with 20-inch alloys shod with 245/50 profile tyres that look terrific but do little to cushion the bumps.

A full-size spare is fitted but drivers will miss not having a driver's footrest.

Although very well equipped with six airbags and electronic stability control, Nitro's interior doesn't quite match its killer looks, with plenty of hard plastic to be found.

At the end of the day it's a fun, desirable car to be seen in, but one that is badly in need of some refinement.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

SX 3.7L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,499 – 9,950 2007 Dodge Nitro 2007 SX Pricing and Specs
SXT 3.7L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $9,995 – 10,990 2007 Dodge Nitro 2007 SXT Pricing and Specs
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