2011 Dodge Nitro

Things are definitely moving fast in today’s compact SUV segment. While many easily blend with the crowd due to common styling cues with one another, the 2011 Dodge Nitro begs to differ as it has evolved in ways far from its predecessor. This capable off-roader is categorized into three trims.

General Info
Vehicle Type: SUV Base Price: $22,245.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.5 gallons (73.8 liters) Miles Per Gallon: 16 city / 21 hwy
Length: 178.9 in. (454 cm) Width: 73.1 in. (185 cm)
Height: 70.5 in. (179 cm) Wheel Base: 108.8 in. (276 cm)
Curb Weight: 3976 lbs (1803.5 kg) Ground Clearance: 8.1 in. (20.5 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 75.6 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Engine: 12-valve SOHC V6 Displacement: 3.7-liter
Horsepower: 210 HP Max RPM: 5200 RPM
Torque: 235 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic
0-60 mph: NA Max Towing Capacity: 5000 lbs (2268 kgs)
Available Trims & Engine
Option:Nitro Heat 4.0 4×2 MSRP: $24,045; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy
Option:Nitro Detonator 4×2 MSRP: $26,245; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy
Option:Nitro Shock 4×2 MSRP: $27,245; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy
Option:Nitro Heat 4×4 MSRP: $23,595; MPG: 15 city / 21 hwy
Option:Nitro Heat 4.0L 4×4 MSRP: $25,795; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy
Option: Nitro Detonator 4×4 MSRP: $27,995; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy
Option: Nitro Shock 4×4 MSRP: $28,995; MPG: 16 city / 21 hwy


The Dodge Nitro Heat is powered by a 3.7L V6 engine that pumps out 210 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque and partnered with four-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are options for this model. Combined with the former option, the EPA estimates are 16/22/18 and 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg are the figures for four-wheel drive.
Moving on, the other trim levels- the Detonator and Shock do away with excess power through 4.0L V6 engine that generates 260-horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The power gets to the ground through either the rear wheels with EPA ratings of 16/21/18 or advanced four-wheel drive system which comes with 15/21/17mpg in city or highway.

Exterior & Interior

Redesigned for 2011, the Dodge Nitro now looks more aggressive on the outside. Standard on all the trims are the 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, roof rails, keyless entry and heated mirrors. The base model displays deep tinted windows. The Detonator includes rear parking sensors and remote ignition, while a sunroof is added in the Nitro Shock package.

Inside, the ample legroom and reclining backseat are treats especially to the adults. The foldable rear seats and front passenger seat can carry luggage or long items. The Nitro Heat model comes with Bluetooth connectivity, tilt steering wheel, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack cruise control, a compass and an outside-temperature gauge. The six-speaker stereo system which includes a CD player can also be upgraded to nine-speaker.

The Detonator looks more sophisticated with its leather-wrapped steering wheel on which audio controls are integrated, improved instrument panel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, six-way power driver seat and six-CD/DVD changer. The Nitro Shock offers premium comfort and luxury with its leather upholstery and heated seats. Moreover, included in the upgraded trims are navigation system with real time traffic and a touch-screen interface.

Safety & Reliability

The 2011 Dodge Nitro is equipped with standard safety features such as anti-lock brakes or ABS, side curtain airbags, traction control and electronic stability control. The Detonator and Shock integrate rear parking sensors for added protection. In the federal government’s assessment, the Nitro received a five-star score for front, rear and side impact crash seats.

On the other hand, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it “Good” rate in frontal offset tests; “marginal” rate for side impact tests; and “Acceptable” rate for rear crash protection tests. Compared to most SUVs, this Dodge compact SUV got a lower rollover rating which is only three-star. For the reliability test conducted by J.D. Power, the Nitro scored 6.0 out of 10. And just like the Dodge Journey, this SUV also offers a basic warranty of three-year/36,000-mile and a five-year/100,000-mile transferable Powertrain warranty.

The Competition

The Honda Element (MSRP $20,825; 20 city / 25 hwy) is highly recommended for its lower base price and better fuel efficiency. The Toyota RAV4 (MSRP $22,475; 22 city / 28 hwy) also beats the Nitro in terms of power and acceleration. The Ford Escape (MSRP $21,240; 23 city / 28 hwy) offers a remarkable 3,500-pound towing capacity.

The Dodge Nitro is packed with improved features. However, its fuel economy is hardly competitive in its class. The interior materials also do not seem to appeal to high-end vehicle enthusiasts. Nevertheless, with its comfortable seats and sufficient headroom & legroom, the Nitro is a decent option. The gauges on the instrument panel are easily readable. And according to Consumer Guide, the 2011 Dodge Nitro offers good overall brake feel and well-controlled cornering lean.

Overall Rating
59 out of 100

What others say:

“The 2011 Dodge Nitro has a macho name and styling, but that’s about where its appeal ends. Just about any other compact/midsize crossover SUV would be a wiser purchase.”Edmunds

“Nicely weighted steering gives Nitro a nimble feel that belies its traditional truck-type design. Well-controlled cornering lean enhances sporty demeanor. The standard sport suspension and 20-inch tires deliver surprisingly good response. Braking response is solid overall, though one test example suffered from inconsistent stopping action.”Consumer Guide

“The 2011 Dodge Nitro is very much a niche vehicle. But with a cramped interior, sluggish performance, poor gas mileage, and a very truck-like ride, it’s become increasingly hard to tell what exactly that niche is.” Car Connection

“The Nitro shares its platform with the Jeep Liberty. The 3.7-liter V6 engine returned 16 mpg in our testing. The Nitro lacks agility and the ride is stiff and snappy. The foot wells are extremely narrow. ESC and curtain air bags are standard. Visibility is poor. Reliability has been below average.”MSN-ConsumerReports