Dodge's Nitro comes in three different models for 2008--base SXT, mid-range SLT, and the sporty R/T. The SXT and SLT have a 3.7L V6 engine making 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, while the R/T model has a 4.0L overhead-cam V6 making 260 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. With the 3.7L engine, a six-speed manual is standard with a four-speed automatic optional; a five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with the 4.0L, though it has Electronic Range Select shift control.
All variants of the Nitro are available with either rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. The 4WD mode is engaged or disengaged with an in-dash switch. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard on the Nitro, along with ESP electronic stability control, which helps maintain stability on slippery surfaces or in abrupt maneuvers.
The Nitro has an independent coil-spring front suspension and solid five-link rear suspension, in a configuration that's capable for trailer towing. SXT models get a suspension tuned more for ride, while SLT and R/T models get a performance-tuned setup that includes a stiffer sway bar, tighter springs and shocks, and 20-inch tires.
SLT and R/T models also get chrome detailing around the instrument cluster, steering wheel, center console, and door handles, plus a different gear shift knob.
The Nitro's packaging helps get the most out of the compact dimensions, with a fold-flat front passenger seat, fold-flat second-row seats for expanding the cargo space, and, on the SLT and R/T, a Load 'N Go cargo floor that slides 18 inches rearward for easier loading and unloading of heavy items, or grocery bags. The floor system can hold up to 400 pounds. On SXT models there's a reversible cargo floor with available utility table.
Noteworthy options on the Nitro include a MyGig Multimedia Infotainment System with a navigation system that now features real-time traffic data; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, premium audio with a subwoofer, heated leather seats, remote start, Park Sense, and the UConnect Bluetooth hands-free calling interface.