The Nitro looks like a beast, but in reality it’s pretty tame. The only engine on offer is a 2.8-litre diesel, but it generates a modest 175bhp and is desperately short of low-down muscle. Work the standard six-speed manual gearbox hard and pace is adequate, but nothing more. A five-speed automatic gearbox is an option.
Dodge Nitro 4x4 ride & handling
The Nitro looks like it'll go anywhere, but you have to switch from rear- to four-wheel drive manually and there's no low-ratio gearbox or hill descent system. There's no on-road benefit, either; the Nitro's bouncy ride, lazy steering and pronounced body roll through bends makes it feel like a big, old-fashioned 4x4.
Dodge Nitro 4x4 refinement
The Nitro’s diesel engine is coarse and noisy at all times, while the manual gearbox adds to the agricultural feel because it has a heavy, obstructive action. Road noise is present without being too much of a problem, but the Nitro’s bluff shape generates a lot of wind noise at speed.