2011 Dodge Nitro SHOCK 4x4

2011 Dodge Nitro SHOCK 4x4


What uniframe midsize SUV weighs 4,301 pounds, has a 4.0-liter V6, gets to 60 exactly as fast as our long-term Buick Regal CXL Turbo and can tow 5,000 pounds?

If you guessed the 2011 Dodge Nitro Shock, congratulations! Did the picture give it away?

The Shock is the uptown version of Dodge's compact yet fully functional body-on-frame 4x4 SUV. The 4.0-liter V6 makes 260 horsepower and is hooked to a five-speed automatic transmission. And, as stated before, with the optional Trailer Tow Group ($575), which includes a Class III receiver hitch, trailer sway damping, wiring, heavy-duty engine cooling, power steering cooling and a full-size spare, the Nitro is capable of towing 5,000 pounds. Apart from that, the Shock has a leather interior, power sunroof, standard 20s and some sweet hood-to-fender stripes for a base price of $28,995.

The 2011 Dodge Nitro is among the last of a dying segment. With more utility than sport and a truck-based frame, the Nitro's natural home is not the test track, but we took it there anyway. Follow the jump for some surprising -- and some completely expected -- results.

Vehicle: 2011 Dodge Nitro Shock 4x4
Odometer: 2,349
Date: 2/15/2011
Driver: Chris Walton 
Price: $32,905

Drive Type: Front engine, four-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Five-speed automatic
Engine Type: 4.0-liter SOHC V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,952/241.2
Redline (rpm): 6,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 260 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 265 @ 4,200
Brake Type (front): 11.9-inch vented rotor with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.4-inch solid rotor with single-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Hydraulic power-assist rack-and-pinion
Suspension Type (front): Upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Live axle, upper and lower trailing arms, track bar, coil springs, shock absorber
Tire Size (front): P245/50R20 102S M+S
Tire Size (rear): P245/50R20 102S M+S
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Wrangler HP
Tire Type:  All-season
Wheel size: 20-by-7.5 inches
Wheel material (front/rear): Chrome-clad cast aluminum
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,310

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 3.2 (3.3 with T/C on)
0-45 (sec): 5.3 (5.4 with T/C on)
0-60 (sec): 8.2 (8.4 with T/C on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.9 (8.0 with T/C on)
0-75 (sec): 12.2 (12.4 with T/C on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.1 @ 85.3 (16.2 @ 85.4 with T/C on)

30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 129

Slalom (mph):58.0 (57.7 with T/C on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.69 (0.68 with T/C on)

Db @ Idle: 45.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 78.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 67.1

RPM @ 70 mph: 2,400

Acceleration: Coarse engine sounds as if it's going to vibrate itself apart. Still, adequate power for a segment-appropriate 0-60 time. Upshifts automatically in Manual mode.

Braking:  While the distances didn't show it, the brake pedal exhibited signs of fade. ABS buzz/hum present.

Handling: Skid pad: Non-defeat ESC on constant alert at what seemed like an artificially low speed. First rear brakes, then the fronts grab abruptly. Good steering weight but hard to maintain a smooth arc -- required lots of input. Slalom: non-defeat ESC limited speed with aggressive brake intervention. Steering feels like reciprocating ball (not rack-and-pinion): lots of slop and slow reaction time.

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