2011 Dodge Nitro SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Dodge Nitro SUV

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Dodge Nitro Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.7 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 210 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Dodge Nitro

  • 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.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Considerable towing capacity, brawny image.

  • Cons

    Subpar gas mileage; lackluster acceleration with either engine; chintzy interior; vague steering and trucklike handling.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the Dodge Nitro gets a few new standard and optional features. Among the former are upgraded seat materials, deeply tinted glass and even (on the Detonator and Shock trims) racing stripes. There's also a newly available Heat 4.0 package, which includes the 4.0-liter V6 as well as an upgraded audio system and Bluetooth connectivity.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

It's a truck, not a

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

Test drove a few before considering the 2010 SXT 4x4. Some of which included the Mazda CX7, and the 2008 Acadia. Mazda handled like a sedan, and the Acadia like a minivan (a little more fun). The Nitro handles like a truck! It's built on the RAM chassis, so don't expect anything less. Fuel economy is not impressive, but still within average for a 3.6L. The 2008 Mazda Tribute 3.0L was getting a little better but not too much. Overall, it handles like the truck but has the comfort of a large SUV. It's flexibility of offering exterior raw power with interior comfort makes it perfect option for looking to have 2 cars in 1. My commute includes 100km hwy and 100km city daily to work/home

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2010 nitro

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

this is my second nitro. First one pure stock nothing special. reason i had to get a second one wife was in a head on colison totaled the car and not her fault she was told if it had been another type vichel she would have been dead. vehicle has been up to 115 mph only thing when wet it spins weels, I have just about every extra you would want on a vehicle amd tywice it has had a tire temp light come on and said i had tire presure at 9 pounds alittle scare at 85 mph great vehicle guess the dont make them any more so will keep mine

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A great truck for the

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

This isn't a truck for everyone. I bought it because it fit several key needs. First off, the size was exactly what I wanted. I had some of the SUVs Edmunds compared this one to and found them to be too small. I didn't want larger than this. It had the best sticker price of anything at this size, and it could tow the most, which I needed in order to bring my Mustang to the track. The other reason I wanted it was the fact it was so bare bones... I knew that I could modify it the way I wanted. It's a Jeep in better clothing. I take the Nitro out to the Arizona trails here and see tons of Jeeps, but I've never once seen a lifted Nitro like mine out there.

It just keeps getting worse!

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

I loved it at first, but it just continues to mess up over and over and over. The first month, it just died. Had it towed, the dealer said it was an ignition problem and fixed it. Then a few months later, everything started going on - I'd be driving down the road and the horn would start blaring full blast or the winshield wipers would come on full blast or the radio would crank itself all the way up. I had to pull over and turn the car off to make it stop. Dealer said it was some kind of 'computer' thing and fixed it. This week my emission light came on, so today I couldn't get it inspected. Have to take it in again tomorrow. Seriously? Its a freakin' brand new car!

It dodges everything but the

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

I have been driving this vehicle for about three months and I am not happy about it. I am a tall guy, and I hit my head every time I get into the car. There are huge blind spots, and if someone is sitting next to you in the front passenger seat, it is very hard to see out the window. The engine is not powerful at all, but it does guzzle the gas. Sometimes I put the gas pedal down, and the car actually seems to slow down. There is no storage in the car at all. Don't even get me started on how bad the gas milage is, SUV or not. I would not buy this car again.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Fun, attractive, reliable "bad boy"

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Dodge Nitro

I have to wonder if those people complaining actually bothered to preview the car prior to buying it. Did they sit in it, test drive it, ask questions about it? If they did and complain after the fact about non-mechanical issues the problem is not the car - it's them! Also, all brands have defective individual autos. I would not condemn an entire model based on one bad car. Let's be real here. My 2010 Nitro has logged more than 27,000 miles and is going strong with no mechanical problems. It has a spacious and comfortable interior suitable for a family of five. The rear seats even have a middle shoulder strap seat belt. The Nitro looks distinctive and is a lot of fun to drive. I love it!

Full 2011 Dodge Nitro Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Dodge Nitro gets a few new standard and optional features. Among the former are upgraded seat materials, deeply tinted glass and even (on the Detonator and Shock trims) racing stripes. There's also a newly available Heat 4.0 package, which includes the 4.0-liter V6 as well as an upgraded audio system and Bluetooth connectivity.


When you've got the nerve to call yourself Nitro, you'd best be able to back it up. Though it shares its model name with a star from American Gladiators -- that TV show of the 1990s -- the 2011 Dodge Nitro sadly doesn't have what it takes to beat down its rivals among compact/midsize crossovers. Sure, the macho Nitro looks the part with its muscled-up styling, and it can be had with a powerful V6. But when put to the test, it falls short in several key areas.

Underneath the buff bod, the Nitro shares its platform with the Jeep Liberty. The Dodge is tuned more for on-road use and also offers a larger available V6 engine, but otherwise it differs little under the skin. The upsides of this shared DNA are a rugged part-time four-wheel-drive system and a hefty towing capacity. But the downsides are likely more significant for consumers shopping this segment, as they include poor fuel mileage, an unwelcoming interior and unimpressive handling dynamics. Although cargo space is generous and the controls are simple to operate, the cabin's subpar materials and build quality can't hold a pugil stick to what's seen in rivals such as the 2011 GMC Terrain, 2011 Mazda CX-7 and 2011 Subaru Forester. Furthermore, the Nitro's backseat is located very low, which makes for easy ingress and egress but negates the comfort otherwise provided by the ample legroom and reclining seatback.

If the 2011 Dodge Nitro were to compete in the Eliminator obstacle course from American Gladiators, it would probably get caught up in the cargo net and fall off the spinning cylinder. The competition actually provides the sort of performance that the Nitro's styling promises. And should serious off-road prowess be your priority, other macho SUVs such as the 2011 Nissan Xterra and 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser are worth serious consideration. Despite its name, the Nitro fails to blow us away in any significant way.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Dodge Nitro is a five-passenger SUV available in Heat, Detonator and Shock trim levels.

The Heat includes 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, foglamps, roof rails, deep tinted windows, keyless entry, full power accessories, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seat and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Popular Equipment Group adds cruise control, an outside-temperature gauge and a compass. A sunroof is a stand-alone option. There is also the available Heat 4.0 package that includes a bigger V6 engine, an upgraded nine-speaker audio system and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Detonator includes the stuff from the Popular Equipment Group and also has the more powerful engine, different 20-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, remote ignition, flashier exterior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (includes audio controls), a six-way power driver seat, an upgraded instrument panel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker stereo (with a subwoofer and a six-CD/DVD changer). The Nitro Shock trim adds different 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, leather upholstery and heated seats.

The Media Center upgrade package adds to the Detonator and Shock trim levels navigation, real-time traffic, a touchscreen interface and digital music storage. There is a Towing package available on all trims.

Powertrains and Performance

The Dodge Nitro Heat comes with a 3.7-liter V6 engine that produces 210 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available, with the latter being a part-time system with high- and low-range gearing. EPA estimates are an underwhelming 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 16/20/17 with four-wheel drive. In performance testing, the virtually identical Jeep Liberty 4x4 went from zero to 60 mph in a lazy 9.5 seconds.

The Heat 4.0, Nitro Detonator and Shock come with a 4.0-liter V6 good for 260 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard and, again, one may choose between rear- and four-wheel drive. EPA estimates are a similarly poor 16/21/18 with rear-wheel drive and 15/21/17 with 4WD. In performance testing, a rear-drive Nitro with the 4.0-liter engine went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds while a 4x4 model hit the target speed in 8.2 seconds.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control and side curtain airbags. The stability control includes a trailer sway control feature. Rear parking sensors are standard on the Detonator and Shock.

The 2011 Dodge Nitro has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to new 2011 tests) were a top five-star rating in all frontal and side crash categories. Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Nitro its top score of "Good" in the frontal-offset test and a second-worst "Marginal" in the side test.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Nitro with the optional 20-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet -- good performance for this type of vehicle.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the Nitro has a somewhat industrial feel, though faux aluminum accents brighten the place up a bit. Materials quality is below average for this class, with several plastics standing out as unacceptably low-grade. An upright seating position provides a good view out the front, and liberal use of soft cushioning makes it easy to get comfortable. Legroom is ample for adults in the reclining backseat, though the bench is mounted too low for optimal comfort.

There are 32 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, but the lift-over height is high for a compact/midsize SUV. With the rear seats folded, there are 65 cubic feet of cargo space available, about average for this class. The front passenger seat can also fold forward to aid in carrying long items.

Driving Impressions

With its aggressive styling and macho name, you'd think that the 2011 Dodge Nitro offered vigorous power and acceleration. Alas, even with the 4.0-liter V6, the Nitro is slower than a Toyota RAV4 V6. At highway speeds, the cabin is surprisingly quiet and the ride is comfortable for the most part, too. Handling has never been a Nitro strong suit compared to other small SUVs, and the steering is notably vague. Most competitors are better to drive and instill more confidence.

Talk About The 2011 Nitro

Read more about the 2011 Dodge Nitro

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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