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2010 Dodge Nitro

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2010 Dodge Nitro Review

SUV doesn't live up to its explosive trim-level names

Reviewed by Automotive on

In a Nutshell
The 2010 Dodge Nitro is a midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) that is available in five trims levels: SE Sport Utility, SXT Sport Utility, Detonator Sport Utility, Heat Sport Utility, and Shock Sport Utility. The Nitro Heat, SE, and SXT trims are equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine paired to a four-speed automatic transmission, with rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive available. The Nitro Detonator and Shock trims are propelled by a 4.0-liter V-6 engine mated to a five-speed and offer a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.

Sporting a traditional body-on-frame design with a live-axle suspension in the rear, the Dodge Nitro can tow 5,000 pounds with the trailer towing package and the weight distribution hitch. The Nitro's fuel efficiency is subpar in the 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway range. The four-wheel drive is a restricted, part-time feature, offering only 2WD / 4WD locking modes. However, the Nitro does have plenty of headroom and cargo space: 33.1 ft of cargo space behind the back seat and 64.7 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat. While the Nitro offers a good safety system package, its crash test scores are only good to marginal.

New for 2010

For 2010, the Dodge Nitro gets a deceleration fuel cut-off capability with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine. Also added are explosively named new trim-level names, including Heat, Detonator, and Shock. New standard items include front-row active head restraints, heated rear-view mirrors, an air-filtration system, and premium stain-resistant cloth upholstery, while the base stereo now gets six speakers. The SXT trim has new leather detail, auto-up front-passenger windows, and a security alarm.


Engines: 3.7L V-6, 4.0L V-6
Transmissions: 5-speed automatic, 4-speed automatic
Body Style: SUV
Trims: SE Sport Utility, SXT Sport Utility, Detonator Sport Utility, Heat Sport Utility, Shock Sport Utility

On the Outside

While not a particularly attractive vehicle, the boxy Dodge Nitro sports body-color grilles, while the SE trim wears a chrome grille and the SXT trim is available with 20-inch wheels.

From the Inside

Fairly Spartan in appearance and material quality, the Dodge Nitro has a two-tone interior with cloth seats, while leather is optional on SXT trim. Primary tech options include a navigation system and 8-speaker, 368-watt stereo equipment.

Driving Performance

The Dodge Nitro's 3.7-liter V-6 engine generates an unimpressive 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. The more modern 4.0-liter V-6 engine churns out 260 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque married to a five-speed automatic transmission. Due to a live axle rear suspension, the Nitro exhibits a truck-like ride quality.

Safety Equipment

Standard safety features on the Dodge Nitro include dual front and front-row side-curtain airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic roll-mitigation, and front-row active head restraints.

Gas Mileage

SE, SXT 3.7L 4x2: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway
SE, SXT 3.7L 4x4: 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway
SXT 4.0L 4x2: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
SXT 4.0L 4x4: 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway


  • 368-watt sound system
  • 5000-pound towing capability


  • Four-speed automatic transmission
  • Cheap interior materials
  • Subpar fuel economy
  • Truck-like ride


SUV doesn't live up to its explosive trim-level names

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