/>
X

2009 Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4--photos

The 2009 Dodge Nitro R/T 4X4 shovels a good cabin tech package into a vehicle that delivers mediocre performance and economy.

antuan-roadshow-headshots-jpegs-1893-007.jpg
Antuan Goodwin
33573222_FT_540.jpg
1 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

A face only a mother could love

The 2009 Dodge Nitro features a chunky external aesthetic that, while some may find tough and manly, our editors just couldn't get used to, particularly when viewed head-on.

The general consensus is that the Nitro looks like a toy, although we can't agree whether it's a Tonka truck or a Rock'em Sock'em Robot.

33573222_OVR_540.jpg
2 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Muscular fenders

The exaggerated flared fenders and squared off corners shout, "Look at me, I mean business!"

However, the fake fender vents and flimsy-feeling body panels whisper, "Looks can be deceiving."

33573222_SD_540.jpg
3 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Boxy profile

The Nitro makes no attempt at the curvy coupelike profiles of its competition, instead choosing a classic Jeep-boxy profile. We really like how the front wheels are pushed way out toward the nose of the vehicle.
33573222_SS01_540.jpg
4 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

4.0 liters, but why?

Our R/T model's 260-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 only makes 50 more ponies than the base 3.7-liter model, and at 265 pound-feet it only makes 30 more pound-feet of torque.

Interestingly, even in 4.0-liter trim, the Nitro has less power than a V-6 Toyota Camry.

33573222_SS05_540.jpg
5 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Five-speed autostick

The Nitro R/T is equipped with a single-option five-speed automatic transmission with autostick. Shifts are sluggish, even in manual mode.

When equipped with the 3.7-liter engine, the Nitro steps down to a four-speed auto.

33573222_SS08_540.jpg
6 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Lockable four-wheel drive

Twisting this knob to "4WD LOCK" locks the differential and turns all four wheels at an equal rate. You won't be doing any rock climbing in the Nitro R/T, but the feature is still good for snowy and icy conditions.
33573222_SS02_540.jpg
7 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Poor fuel economy

At 16 mpg city and 21 highway in 4.0-liter 4x4 trim, the Nitro isn't going to win any hypermiling contests.
33573222_SS03_540.jpg
8 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Load 'n Go

The Load 'n Go cargo floor slides out 18 inches for easier loading and unloading of up to 400 pounds of stuff.
33573222_SS04_540.jpg
9 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Rear proximity sensor

The Nitro uses Dodge's rear proximity sensor, which beeps when an object or person is behind the vehicle while in reverse. As you approach the object, the beeping speeds up.

A backup camera would be a more elegant solution, but it isn't available.

33573222_INT_540.jpg
10 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Fantastic plastic machine

The Nitro's interior is bathed in black, low-grade plastic, which almost fits the Nitro's rugged, toylike image.
33573222_SS10_540.jpg
11 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

UConnect gps

Tucked into the center stack is Dodge/Chrysler's UConnect media center. We like this hard-drive-based navigation system, but we wish Dodge would build better vehicles around it.
33573222_SS11_540.jpg
12 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Hard-drive-based speed

Being hard-drive-based, the UConnect system offers fast searching of streets and points of interest.
33573222_SS12_540.jpg
13 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Traffic data

Traffic data is served by Sirius Traffic Link as part of the satellite radio package.
33573222_SS13_540.jpg
14 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Interface

The UConnect interface has a slightly steep learning curve, but it also offers a plethora of options for finding destinations and customizing your experience.
33573222_SS14_540.jpg
15 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Ripping audio

The 30GB internal hard drive also offers space for storing music ripped from CDs and USB devices.
33573222_SS15_540.jpg
16 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Sirius satellite radio

One year of Sirius satellite radio is included as part of the UConnect package.
33573222_SS16_540.jpg
17 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Media storage

In addition to ripping music, photos and contacts can also be stored on the UConnect's hard drive.
33573222_SS17_540.jpg
18 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Voice command

We like Dodge/Chrysler's implementation of voice command on the UConnect system. Onscreen prompts let the driver know what commands are acceptable, minimizing guesswork.
33573222_SS06_540.jpg
19 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Oddball steering wheel controls

One of our biggest qualms with the UConnect system is the lack of a steering-wheel-mounted voice command button. There's a button to access the compass, why not one for voice? It only seems right.
33573222_SS18_540.jpg
20 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Infinity audio

As part of the R/T package, the basic six-speaker audio system is upgraded to a 368-watt Infinity system with eight speakers and a discrete subwoofer. Audio quality tends to be bass heavy and loud, but surprisingly free of major distortion.

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 37 best games to play in 2021

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 37 best games to play in 2021

38 Photos
2022 Genesis G80 Sport sharpens up

More Galleries

2022 Genesis G80 Sport sharpens up

4 Photos
2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year

More Galleries

2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year

14 Photos
Mazda MX-30 EV has suicide doors and cork interior trim

More Galleries

Mazda MX-30 EV has suicide doors and cork interior trim

46 Photos
2021 BMW 330e: A plug-in powerhouse

More Galleries

2021 BMW 330e: A plug-in powerhouse

51 Photos
Redesigned Kia Sportage: Movin' on up

More Galleries

Redesigned Kia Sportage: Movin' on up

8 Photos
2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT is an EV that slaps

More Galleries

2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT is an EV that slaps

46 Photos