Thursday, July 4, 2013

Used Car Review - Dodge Nitro (2008-2012)

Today is the Fourth of July, and Myk Belmonte celebrates it by featuring an American SUV.

2008-2012 Dodge Nitro

It has been a long time since Dodge had a compact SUV in their line-up since the discontinuation of the Dodge Raider (basically a renamed Mitsubishi Pajero) at the turn of the 90s. Rather than developing their own compact from scratch, they just asked their sister brand Jeep to provide them with a second generation Liberty, and change everything (including some body extensions) sans the engine (the Nitro has its own 4.0 V6 which the Jeep does not offer).

Available at your nearest Dodge dealer in the US from September 2006, the Dodge Nitro went first before the second (and last) generation Jeep Liberty, whose platform is shared with. Sure it may have some butch looks and a convenient sliding cargo floor, but driving satisfaction is not great and the engine drinks more gas than the fastest texter in the world. The last Nitro went out the assembly line in Toledo, Ohio commenced in December 2011, while its Jeep counterpart in August 2012.

CATS Motors brought in this SUV as a part of expanding the Dodge line-up in 2008, which was a year when gas prices went up like crazy. Unlike in the US, only one engine and transmission combo was made available. 2012 was the last year one can purchase this brute SUV.

Value and Costs
Similar to its same priced contemporaries when new, Nitro prices range from P880,000-P1,100,000. Definitely the best place to start is the pre-owned selection of CATS since they have been inspected and certified, but private owners are also worth a look.

Reliability of the 3.7 V6 is decent enough based on several US forums, but other than that interior quality isn't stellar. Parts are mostly limited to the casa but online and specialist shops are present but this requires some research. Buying this vehicle means more fuel expenses as this has a V6 engine under the hood.

Exterior and Interior
The main attraction of the Nitro are the macho looks that come as standard equipment. Each four wheels is complemented with fender flares that are, wait a minute, huge. Ending the aggressive exterior are chrome bits from the alloys to the grilles.

Getting inside is a different story, as clambering in and out the front area is difficult since no handle bars assist them. Controls are big and placed together in the center stack, but quality of materials used isn't to the level of the Japanese. Before driving, you have to set your comfortable position and this fails in a way since you either be far with the tiller or near with the foot pedals, both inhumane and in a way dangerous. Headroom is OK considering the tall height but legroom is a bit tight.

Worldwide, there are two V6 engines and a diesel exclusive for Europe but one V6 managed to reach the Philippines in the form of the EKG 3,701cc from Chrysler's PowerTech engine family that belches 210hp at 5,200rpm and 319Nm at 4,000rpm. While it has a growling sound similar to V8 engines, acceleration is coarse and fuel economy won't give you any citations.

Driving Impressions
Despite having proportions that is a bit bigger than a third generation CR-V, it drives like an Expedition that is not a good thing. Maneuvering is a mixed bag, while parking sensors come standard, the uncomfortable position would give you a hard time parking at the mall. Steering is light which is an advantage in the expressways and while braking is decent, the weight penalty makes it not stop in a dime.

Sure you'd be getting the Nitro for its hotrod looks but as they say beauty is skin deep. You get the looks but have an uncomfortable driving position, poor fuel economy, and a limited space for your toes. Unless you are desperate for pogi points, there are other great choices that are superior when it comes to consumption, acceleration, room, practicality, and most importantly, your image. Better look elsewhere.

The Good: 
  • Sliding cargo tray at the rear
  • Bad ass looks
  • Its American, so it must be muscular!
The Bad:
  • Poor quality of materials
  • Gas guzzling
  • Drives like a truck
The Pick: SXT, you have no other choice

Engine: 3,701cc EKG V6 gasoline
Power: 210hp @ 5,200rpm
Torque: 319Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-8km/L (city), 7-9km/L (highway)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear rigid axle with coil springs

Price (New): P1,198,000-P2,100,000
Price (Now): P880,000-P1,100,000
Rivals: Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester
On Sale: 2008-2012

CATS Pre Owned - (02) 784-5004

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