The Mountain Goat
By djohnson on Friday, January 27, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000
overall rating 10 of 10rating details
- Overall Rating
Pros: "Offroad capability, power, interior flexibility"
Cons: "Fuel economy, soft rear suspension"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I spend more time off road than most SUV owners, and I've found the Xterra to be almost unstoppable. I have the Offroad model, and it's incredible. The factory upgrades on this model add valuable ability when in the really rough stuff. They are: Bilstien shocks, electronic-locking rear differential, and underbody skid plates, and hill descent control if you have the automatic transmission. My Xterra has the 6-sp manual, which has also been spectacular.
On paved roads, the towing capacity of 5,000lbs seems conservative to me. I've towed a little over 4,000 several times, and the Xterra seems like it could do way more than an extra 1,000lbs. The engine is exceptionally strong for a V6-- power has never been an issue.
One thing that has been a bit under my expectations has been the gas mileage. I have a small lift (3 in,) and mud terrain tires, and those things certainly work against efficiency. I get about 14 or 15 mpg, highway or surface streets. Before I made those changes, I was regularly hitting 20mpg, so make sure you work that into the cost of the upgrades if you're considering modifications. Well worth it, IMO, but not a low-impact change.
The interior has been great. Really easy to clean, super versatile with the flat-folding front passenger seat, flat folding rear seat and sliding tie-down system in the trunk area.
Another thing that has been below expectations is the stock rear spring setup. It's clearly set up for on-road comfort, rather than hauling capacity or stiffness. When I packed the thing with camping gear for two people and a 90lb dog, the rear suspension regularly rested on the rubber suspension stops. That made the vehicle's stability less than ideal on the highway and the trail. I found a pretty simple fix for that with an after-market leaf spring system available easily online for about $300. I installed it myself in one day, and I'm not a mechanic. It has completely fixed the issue and not negatively impacted the ride in any discernable way.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with my Xterra. All of the sacrifices made to drive an extremely able off-road vehicle are totally worth it, and nothing currently available in the US is in the same class as far as every-day functionality, comfort, and capabilites. It's everything an SUV should be."
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