Nissan Xterra Review
The Nissan Xterra is a compact SUV that was introduced to the Nissan lineup in 2000. It was marketed as a simple, but capable adventurous vehicle with the slogan “Everything you need, nothing you don't.” Living up to its slogan, the Xterra is a well thought out vehicle that satisfies the needs of the active outdoor owner. Fully redesigned in 2005, the Xterra provides great cargo space, an excellent driving experience, very functional conveniences, modern technology, and a rugged build all in one.
See also the main fact sheet for the Nissan Xterra.
- Roomier than other SUVs in it's class
- 4.0-liter V6 offers very good throttle response
- Manual is strikingly refined, yet sporty
- Has everything you need in a sport utility, and nothing you don't
- A rugged SUV for outdoors types only
Performance and Handling
The automatic transmission, a five-speed overdrive unit, wins points around town. For commuting or driving in traffic, it is the most convenient. But on the open road, the six-speed manual is a sweet gearbox, with an overdrive gear so tall the engine barely murmurs at cruising speeds. In addition, the six-speed's lower four ratios are all lower than in the automatic. The 4.0-liter V6 offers very good throttle response. High-speed passing with the automatic transmission does create some noise and vibration as the engine revs toward redline, but only at speeds well above the normal cruising level. No such issues with the manual, which is strikingly refined, yet sporty. The six-speed is in fact a version of the same transmission used on the Nissan 350Z.
On smaller roads, the Xterra retains a handy feeling, driving with the ease of a large family sedan. If you push it, the long-travel chassis will show some roll from side to side, and the tires will complain, but in ordinary driving, the Xterra feels consistently composed and, for a truck, highly refined. The 4.0-liter engine has some guts in the midrange and the Xterra accelerates well when coming out of a corner.
The Xterra is probably Nissan's most capable off-road vehicle, one that can handle most challenges without the effort of pushing, shoveling, or tow straps. All 4WD Xterra models feature a truck-tough part-time transfer case with low range and electronic control. With the six-speed manual, the low-range crawl ratio is 40:1, better than most Jeeps. Unlike many SUVs, the Xterra has a fully boxed frame and a solid rear axle making it extremely durable and an off-road performer.
The Nissan Xterra comes standard with the following features:
- Driver and front passenger Nissan Advanced Air Bag System
- Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor (Optional)
- Side Seat Air Bags
- Side-impact Door Beams
- Front-seat Active Head Restraints
Reliability and Maintenance
The Nissan New Vehicle Limited Warranty's coverage is 36 months/36,000 miles. Powertrain coverage is 5 years/60,000 miles. If your vehicle is inoperative due to failure of a warranted part, towing service to the nearest authorized Nissan dealer is reimbursable for 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Interior and Comforts
The Nissan Xterra is roomy inside. It's roomier than other SUVs in its price class. It works well for whisking four large adults and their gear to the backcountry. Second-row seating is stadium-style, meaning that the rear passengers can see over the front-seat occupants.
Cargo capability is a priority. The rear seat folds down when needed, and the front passenger seat also folds flat, meaning that lengthy recreational gear or lumber can be more easily accommodated. After all, the Xterra is no poser. It is, in fact, a rugged SUV for outdoors types.
Storage compartments have been enlarged (both center console and glove compartment), and there is also additional instrument panel storage. The cargo area has easily cleaned flooring and a total of 10 cargo utility hooks. The rear is set up to handle anything the roof rack can't, such as a dirty dog or muddy gear. There is an adjustable channel system on the cargo floor making it easier to secure bike racks. The built-in first-aid kit is included with the Off-Road and SE grades.
The Rockford Fosgate stereo sounds good. Getting good sound in an SUV interior can be difficult, since there are many hard surfaces combined with soft shapes to reflect and muffle sound. In this case, 380 watts, eight speakers and a subwoofer carry the day.
The Nissan Xterra looks bigger, tougher and more powerful than the first-generation models. This is especially pronounced at the front, where the massive front bumper (brightly plated at the bottom center to suggest a conspicuous skid plate) and bright V-strut grille conspire to add bulk and menace to an approaching Xterra.
The exterior redesign in 2005 was not revolutionary, however, so this latest-generation Xterra looks a lot like the previous generation. As on the older generation, the roofline kicks upward to increase second-row headroom. Side mirrors are large and rectangular. Wheel wells are accentuated with squared-off lines, adding muscular shoulders to the Xterra's stance. he bodywork is intended to suggest an aggressive posture, and performance in the off-road sense.
The Xterra still projects a high-utility image. A largely tubular roof rack adds size and a look of no-nonsense purpose. Side steps create easy access to the roof rack, a functional addition underscoring the utility of the roof rack and its integrated cargo box. The angled C-pillar carries Nissan's signature high-mounted rear door handles, a unique design trait that visually links the new Xterra with the original, as well as with the rest of the Nissan SUV family, the Pathfinder and the Armada.
Styles and Options
The Nissan Xterra is available in 4 trims: X, S, Off Road, and SE.
The X is your base model coming standard with:
- Vehicle Dynamic Control
- Anti-Lock Brakes
- Electronic Brake-Force Distribution
- Roof Rack with Covered Gear Box
- Easy Clean Cargo Area
The S adds more amenities coming standard with:
- Adds to the X trim
- 16" Aluminum Alloy Wheels
- Power Locks, Windows, Mirrors
- Cruise Control
- Vehicle Security System
The Off Road offers better off road performance including:
- Adds to the S trim
- Bilstein Performance Shocks
- Hill Descent Control
- Hill Start Assist
- Fog Lights
The SE offers a more luxurious interior with:
- Adds to the S trim
- 17" Aluminum Alloy Wheels
- Fog Lights
- Rockford-Fosgate Stereo System with MP3 CD Capability
- First-Aid Kit
- Toyota RAV4: side-by-side comparison
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- Jeep Liberty: side-by-side comparison
- Honda CR-V: side-by-side comparison
- Hyundai Santa Fe: side-by-side comparison
- Subaru Forester: side-by-side comparison
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