Son of Liberty
In an effort to round out its sport-utility lineup, Dodge previewed its Nitro concept at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. Many believe this is a close representation of the rumored Liberty-based SUV coming to Dodge showrooms within the next year. The Nitro shares key components with the Liberty, including its short/long arm front suspension, five-link solid rear axle, and its 3.7L SOHC V-6. However, the 108.3-inch wheelbase of the Nitro is exactly 4 inches longer than the Liberty, and its overall length is 4.4 inches longer than its Jeep kin. Other key measurements are incrementally larger than the Liberty, as well.
In terms of brand positioning, it's clear that Dodge is going after the more "lifestyle"-oriented customer rather than the harder-core off-road clientele of Jeep. The concept vehicle was shod with 20-inch wheels, and although "full-time all-wheel drive" was touted as a key feature, there was no explicit mention of low-range in the initial press materials.
Since this story was originally written, Dodge has put the Nitro into full-scale production. The 20-inch wheels from the prototype survived the transition. The trucklet also features DCX's new 4.0L 24-valve V-6 cranking out a respectable 260 horsepower and 265 lb./ft. of torque.