Rental Car Review: Dodge Nitro

Last week I rented a Dodge nitro with roughly 18,000 miles on it and I put another 300 or so on it over 4 days. The Dodge Nitro is a small SUV with a boxy shape. I find the boxy exterior to look like a little Land Rover (unlike the little Land Rover Freelander which looks more like a an Isuzu). However the Nitro has gotten some really bad reviews so I was expecting an interesting ride.

My first impression was that the center console was unusually wide for a small SUV and that’s generally a good thing. Controls were large and easy to figure out, always a plus in an unfamiliar vehicle. As I drove a little while, I realized that there was something odd about the windshield. The dashboard is extremely short. There is no chance that you will lose your parking stub up there. The means that there is very little slope to the windshield and you can feel like you are awfully close it. It wasn’t a big deal once I got used to it but it was odd at first.

This was middle trim vehicle, all power but no sunroof. I found the ride to be surprisingly harsh and truck like. There was a lot of bouncing going on, even on the highway. It so bad, that I concerned about my ability to control the vehicle given the right combination of circumstanced like highway speed, a curve and a deep pothole. Over time, I found the seats to be uncomfortable too. Also the gas mileage didn’t seem to be anything spectacular. This is an impression because I didn’t really track it but most consultants I know have a good sense of gas mileage vs. small tank. Since a tank fill up took 17 gallons I’m going with poor gas mileage.

So it sounds like I didn’t like the vehicle when in reality it fell more in the middle range. It wasn’t terrible. It was roomy and easy to figure out. All in all, I’d take one again. Maybe not as my first choice, but I wouldn’t complain.