Dodge Nitro test drive | Nitro concept car
The Dodge Nitro was based on the best-selling 2007 Jeep Liberty, with elements of the 2008 Liberty as well as unique features, such as a new 4.0 liter V6 engine (the base engine was the 3.7 liter V6). Transmissions were a six-speed manual or an automatic - four speeds for the 3.7 and five speeds for the 4.0.
The Nitro suspension was retuned to suit on-road drivers, and the comfort level was generally higher (for the 2011 model year, the suspension was altered for better performance). The Dodge Nitro SUV was longer than the Liberty, could tow 5,000 pounds, and had an optional sports suspension package (standard on the Nitro R/T and optional on the SLT). A new feature, the sliding cargo floor, let owners slide out the cargo bay floor 18 inches for easier loading; it held up to 400 pounds. The Nitro also had a fold-flat front-row passenger seat.
Nitro and 2008 Liberty were created at the same time, according to engineer Bob Sheaves. One of the reasons why the Nitro came before the refreshed Liberty was the addition of a tire-chain requirement on Liberty, which resulted in various changes to its architecture — but no changes to the inner wheelhouse opening, which is the same on Nitro and Liberty. (The braking systems are on the other side of that opening, on the driver's side).
See the Nitro and Liberty being built in Toledo, Ohio.
The 2011 Dodge Nitro gained numerous standard features, including 20" wheels, a new performance suspension, nine-speaker Infinity satellite audio system with voice command, monotone slate interiors, and body color grille with bright inserts. Over half of sales are expected to go to the well-equipped, but base, Heat model, with the rest split between Detonator and Shock. The upper two models have diagonal Dodge fender stripes, with Detonator getting color-matched fabric inserts and stitching, and Shock getting leather seats (heated in front).
2010 Dodge Nitro got active head restraints, interactive Decel Fuel Shut Off (iDFSO) (3.7/4-spd only), Fuel-Saver with “ECO” lamp indicator in cluster, power heated manual folding mirrors, air filtration system, and premium seat trim with stain-repel
seat fabric. SXT got new leather trim, body-color grille with air dam, front-passenger express-up power window, and security alarm. Light Sandstone Metallic replaced Light Graystone outside; a new dark pebble beige is available on SE, with a new pastel pebble beige on SXT.
The 2009 Dodge Nitro got suspension updates for better cornering, a change to one blue color, and bright red replacing electric blue paint. Floor mats, rear dome lamp, automatic transmission, and automatic unlocking became standard across models; remote express-open front windows became standard on SLT and R/T. The 4.0 V6 muffler was retuned; the suspension was retuned with updated rear axles and shafts, springs, shock, roll bas, and steering gear for more precise handling and feel. The brakes got a retuned booster, low-rollback calipers, and revised pedal ratio for better feel. Various packages were also changed, particularly in the electronics arena.
Don Wagner wrote that the CRD Nitro (for Europe) centered the backup lights in the cluster instead of at the bottomthe front bumper was smoother across and the lower fascia air dam was better integrated into the front end; there were side marker turn signal repeaters just aft of the front fender flares; and the VIN had an 8 in the year position.
Filip Norrgård provided the following figures and information for the Nitro diesel in Finland:
The common-rail diesel engine was named Panther, and displaced 2.8 liters. It was coupled to a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual, and delivered 177 hp (130 kW) and 303 lb-ft of torque (410 Nm). Gas mileage was about 34 mpg highway (6.9 l/100km), 27 mpg combined (EU standard, 8.6 liters/100 km) with the manual transmission.
The 2007 Nitro had three trim levels, SXT, SLT, and R/T. The R/T includes a performance suspension, 20-inch tires, and chrome-clad aluminum wheels (all three are optional on the SLT). The base SXT start at $19,885 (rear wheel drive); the SLT at $23,295; and the R/T at $25,970. Four wheel drive was about $1,600 extra. We test drove the SLT an expect the 4.0 liter version to be a real rocket in everyday driving - with instant-on acceleration beyond what sprint times would indicate.
Gas mileage in 2010 was 16/22 for the rear-drive 3.7, 15/21 for the 3.7 4x4; 16/21 for rear-drive 4.0, and 16/20 for 4x4 4.0.
The 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine, an enhanced version of the 3.5 V6, delivered 255 hp (190 kW) at 5,800 rpm and 265 lb.-ft. torque (360 N•m) at 4,200 rpm. The engine provides more power and torque than the 3.5 with emphasis on low- and mid-range operation to meet the needs of the day-to-day driver. For 2010, power output rose to 260 hp (194 kW) at 6,000 rpm, while torque stayed constant.
The 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 engine produces 210 hp (157 kW) @ 5,200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. (319 N•m) @ 4,000 rpm. Refinements in the valve train and combustion chamber enhance low-speed torque while providing a smooth idle and minimal engine noise. Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) tailored throttle response to pedal movement based on operating conditions.
On August 15, 2006, the Dodge Nitro entered production. It was made on the same line as the Jeep Liberty, with a $600 million investment that added 150 robots and expanded the plant by 160,000 square feet.
The Toledo North Plant was retooled to manage building two different models on one production line and to improve quality, productivity, and worker ergonomics, part of $3.9 billion spent on Toledo manufacturing capabilities that include $1.2 billion to build Toledo North (opened in 2001) and $2.1 billion for Chrysler's Toledo Supplier Park, home of the 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited.
At the core of the new flexible manufacturing process is a body shop with 150 robots instead of the vehicle-specific heavy tooling that was previously used. The door, hood and liftgate assembly system is new, as are the side aperture assembly systems. Only the robots' "hands" need to change to build the different models, and that is done automatically, within the time it takes to cycle from one vehicle to the next. TNAP can vary production between two products anywhere from 0 to 100 percent of each model. A third model can also be piloted — or test-built — at the same time, helping reduce the time needed to make new-model changeovers.
New methods of material flow helped deal with building two models on one assembly line. An inbound parts sequencing center housed in the adjoining Stickney complex managed more than 1,800 different parts used in the Liberty/Nitro and Wrangler. In addition to sequencing, this center provided parts metering, kitting and container management to both Toledo plants. A significant portion of TNAP was be fork-truck-free as dollies provided materials to production areas, improving safety and productivity.
A new model workplace model let employees design their own work stations. These changes provide a better work environment for employees and give increased support to assembly line team members. (This is presumably part of the empowered team system of management.)
The Dodge Nitro features an independent front suspension and an five-link rear suspension, neither of which was carried over from the Liberty. The independent front suspension gives the driver an optimum combination of ride, handling and steering, providing a greater sense of control and precision. The solid five-link rear suspension, including upper and lower trailing links and track bar, provides higher lateral stiffness for vehicle responsiveness and outstanding handling. Ample suspension wheel travel is provided to maintain consistent ride quality, especially when the vehicle is loaded or towing a trailer.
The new performance suspension offered on the Dodge Nitro R/T and SLT models features a revised sway bar, springs, shocks, bushings and 20-inch tires and wheels for improved cornering and increased traction.
Effort, feel and response on the Nitro's rack-and-pinion steering system is tuned to give the driver precise control and positive feedback from the steering force exerted by the tires. The steering linkage design allows for a tighter turning circle.
The six-speed manual transmission was standard on the Dodge Nitro 4x2 and 4x4 models with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine. For smooth operation, first and second gears have triple-cone synchronization, the third and fourth gears feature double-cone and the fifth and sixth gears single-cone synchronization. Hard-finished gears allow for quiet operation. A multi-rail, steel-construction shift system delivers high strength and precision. The two-piece aluminum case with integrated clutch housing assures powertrain stiffness and low weight. The new first-gear ratios combined with six-speed step spread allows optimization of axle ratios for fuel economy and performance.
Transmission ratios for the six-speed manual are 4.46, 2.61, 1.72, 1.25, 1.0, and 0.84; reverse is 4.06.
The four-speed variable line pressure automatic transmission was optional on the Dodge Nitro and standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT; it was used with the 3.7 liter engine. Transmission ratios are 2.84, 1.57, 1.0, and 0.69, with a reverse of 2.21.
The five-speed automatic transmission was mated to the 4.0-liter V-6 engine; it features Electronic Range Select (ERS) interactive shift control. The shifter provides fully-automated shifting when in the Drive position, or the driver can manually select each gear by moving the shifter left and right from the Drive position (it's also known as AutoStick). Transmission ratios for the five-speed automatic are 3.59, 2.19, 1.41, 1.0, 0.83, and Reverse 3.16.
On 4x4 models, a part-time four-wheel drive system came with the manual transmission; a full-time all-wheel drive system came with automatic transmissions. Two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive modes were electronically controlled by a switch in the center console which can be selected at any time with the part-time four-wheel drive system.
Nitro came with four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes; front rotors have inverted hat construction (vent openings are on the outboard side of the rotor) to improve cooling compared to conventional inboard venting. This also helps to minimize high-temperature deformation for long-term smooth operation.
The Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) transfers torque from one wheel to another on the same axle when wheel slip conditions are detected.
Electronic Stability Program (ESP) aids the driver in maintaining vehicle directional stability in severe driving maneuvers on any type of surface. Using signals from sensors throughout the vehicle, ESP determines the appropriate brake and throttle adjustments for directional stability of the vehicle. Other safety and control systems are electronic roll mitigation and side-curtain airbags.
The 2007 Dodge Nitro will be produced at the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant alongside (or mixed in with) the Jeep Liberty.
A new feature comes on SLT and R/T models: the LOAD 'N GO™ cargo floor that slides 18 inches rearward for easy and convenient loading and unloading of packages, and can hold up to 400 pounds. It is made of a heavy-duty plastic for easy cleaning. A compact utility table is an available option on the Dodge Nitro model.
Other available options include a DVD-based navigation system with traffic data update, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, AM/FM/6-disc/DVD/MP3 audio with premium speakers with a subwoofer, remote start, UConnect, and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Chrysler Group previously announced that the Dodge brand will expand to Europe and volume markets overseas, and the Dodge Nitro will be part of that expansion. The vehicle will be available in markets outside North America, in both left- and right-hand drive, by the first quarter of 2007.
Nitro designers used strong and confident themes. Intrinsic to every Dodge vehicle is the bold crosshair grille (body color on the R/T and chrome on the others), with a three-dimensional ram's head. Rectangular headlamps that prominently wrap the corners of the vehicle and a clamshell hood complete the front-end.
The side features a deep-body section and high beltline. Chrome vents positioned on each front fender add to the flair. The wheels, pushed to the corners for better ride and handling, are surrounded by bold wheel arches. Standard on the Dodge Nitro R/T and optional on the Dodge Nitro SLT are 20-inch tires and chrome-clad aluminum wheels.
The side-view mirrors were developed in the Chrysler Group wind tunnel in Auburn Hills, Mich., in conjunction with the form of the A-pillar. The result is an aerodynamically efficient design that minimizes wind noise, helping to create a quieter cabin.
The door handles have a solid, strong feel and are easy to grip, even with a gloved hand. In the center of the door handle is a deep, horizontal groove, a design cue that is repeated inside on the map pocket, door panels and instrument panel. Dodge designers chose to black-out the C-pillar of the vehicle which makes the second-row and rear-windows appear more horizontal, amplifying the vehicle's sporty nature. The rear features beveled taillamps and a lighted license visor.
The front fascia, headlamps, rear fascia and taillamps are designed to meet international requirements.
The interior of the five-passenger Dodge Nitro is spacious, functional and flexible for people and cargo. The headliner is shrink-wrapped to allow maximum headroom and there is plenty of leg room for first- and second-row passengers.
A three-pod, four-gauge instrument cluster is designed for right- or left-hand drive. The chunky steering wheel gives the driver a perception and feeling of a bigger vehicle. The instrument panel is nearly identical to that of the Avenger/Sebring in basic form, as is the center stack; we wonder if Chrysler is actually using some of the same parts across both vehicles.
Brushed silver accents appear on the door handles, center console, gear shift and HVAC controls. The Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T receive additional chrome detail on the steering wheel, instrument cluster, first-row grab handle and center console. The gear shifter and control buttons are substantial in size and bold by design.
The center console storage bin is deep and wide enough to house CDs or DVDs and has a tray that sits atop it for additional storage. The center console offers three spaces that can accommodate hand-held PDAs, cell phones or coins. The driver- and passenger-side doors each have deep compartments; behind the driver's seat is a wide and easy-to-reach map pocket. Two cup-holders are located in the first and second rows.
A choice of vinyl or cloth seats are available on the Dodge Nitro, with leather seats available on the R/T and SLT; the seat structure is new, thinner but more supportive. Standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT is the new YES Essentials® cloth seats, an advanced seating upholstery that offers three benefits: repelling stains, controlling odor and reducing static electricity. The technology is designed to withstand endless cleanings and should not rub off or change the texture or comfort of the seats or surfaces during ownership of the vehicle. The upholstery also controls bacteria-based odors inside the vehicle.
The Dodge Nitro has a fold-flat front passenger seat, as well as fold-flat second-row seats. The second-row seats also recline for added passenger comfort. Standard on the Dodge Nitro SLT and Dodge Nitro R/T is the LOAD 'N GO™ cargo floor which slides 18 inches rearward for easy and convenient loading and unloading of packages. The LOAD 'N GO cargo floor can hold up to 400 pounds and is made of a heavy-duty plastic for easy cleaning. A compact utility table is optional.
The Dodge Nitro features two new exterior colors — Sunburst Orange and Electric Blue. Also available will be Inferno Red, Light Khaki, Bright Silver, Black and Stone White.
The four wheel drive versions have two transfer cases, depending on the transmission. Manual transmissions get the MP143 GII single-speed transfer case that offers part-time four wheel drive (normally it is two wheel drive), with a 50/50 torque split. Automatics get full-time four wheel drive with a planetary center differential and a 48/52 front-rear torque split.
More Dodge Nitro specifications:
Jeep Liberty. Dodge Nitro concept car. Dodge Nitro review.
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