By KBB.com Editors
Many SUVs have grown into giant luxury barges incapable of tackling little more than snow-covered pavement, which is why off-road devotees and weekend warriors love the Nissan Xterra. Nissan's most affordable SUV is renowned for its rugged body-on-frame construction, powerful standard V6 engine and insatiable appetite for all things dirty and boulder-strewn. Although it now faces tough competition from Jeep's new Wrangler four-door, the Xterra remains an attractive prospect. Innovative features, such as a built-in first aid kit, adjustable cargo-hold track system and a roof-mounted drying rack, are geared toward those with active lifestyles, while the Xterra's civilized interior and comfortable ride make it perfectly suitable as a daily driver.
The Xterra is ideally suited for the active adventurer highlighted in so many Xterra commercials. An affordable price tag allows just about anyone to own this tough Nissan SUV, and a civilized ride makes it easy to live with in day-to-day driving.
If you're looking for economy over power, the Xterra's new V6 won't impress you. The Xterra's truck-like ride and handling is a far cry from car-based SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota Highlander.
Mud guards become standard on all four-wheel-drive models, and the Rockford Fosgate Audio Package now includes an auxiliary input jack.
Driving Impressions Around town and on the highway, the new Xterra rides and handles impressively; it tracks straight, rides smooth and handles even high-speed sweeping turns as calmly and confidently as a...solid sedan. Its impressive new V6, a modified version of the engines found in the company's 350Z and G35, quietly delivers power whenever you need it, even if it isn't as quick here as in some of its other applications.
Versatile Cargo Area
In addition to no-carpet and Easy Clean surfaces, the Xterra's cargo area features a total of 10 cargo hooks in the sides, ceiling, and in the adjustable Utili-track Cargo Channel System in the floor.
Integrated into the body of the vehicle, the Xterra's side steps make it easy to access and secure cargo at the rear of the roof.
The Xterra's increased wheelbase and height result in improved headroom and legroom for every passenger, front and back. Rear 60/40 split seats combine with a fold-flat front passenger seat to create enough room for lengthy outdoor gear (or tall floor lamps). A clean and purposeful interior features dual stacked glove compartments, multiple 12-volt outlets and a versatile cargo area.Exterior
With a tubular roof rack, stepped roof and bump on its back, the Xterra looks as if it were born to be outdoors. Although it's over an inch taller than the original version, the latest Xterra appears to sit on the road more securely, thanks in large part to a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs, as well as wider, more pronounced fender flares. Its "angled strut grille" serves as the new face for many of Nissan's trucks and SUVs. The bin at the front of the roof rack now features a latchable cover, and the rear bumper includes integrated side steps for easier access to the roof.
Features on the base Xterra include a 4.0-liter V6, six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes with Electronic Brake force Distribution, stability control, roof gear basket, single CD sound system, air conditioning and an Easy Clean cargo area surface with multiple heavy-duty hooks and Utili-track Cargo Channel System. Standard safety equipment includes front airbags, front-seat active head restraints and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Options, offered as parts of various trim levels or available individually, include a five-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, 380-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with MP3-compatible in-dash six-disc changer, XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio, cruise control, fold-flat front passenger seat, front side airbags and front/rear side-curtain airbags. The Xterra Off Road model includes electronic Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, additional skid plates and unique blue seat cloth (Off Road model features vary by 4x2 or 4x4, and manual or automatic transmission).
The Xterra's V6 pulls as strongly on the highway as it does climbing rocks and dirt mounds. Ample torque translates into ample towing ability, but all that power comes at a price, and you'll pay it at the pump.
261 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
281 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/22 (2WD manual), 16/22 (2WD automatic), 17/21 (4WD manual), 16/21 (4WD automatic)
By Out of $$ (GA) on Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Transmission failure - My approximate mileage is 122,000
Pros: "Style, Driveability, Power, Handling"
Cons: "Gas mileage, rear visibility, oh and it's a NISSAN"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned 11 vehicles in my lifetime. The 2005 XTerra was my second favorite (Cadillac CTS is first.) It was fun to drive, no problems, stylish, sporty, had plenty of storage space... Then it left me stranded 85 miles from home with spontaneous transmission failure. After $241 to tow it home and a new valve body, it died again. After a rebuilt transmission, it died again. It sat in my driveway for 8 months because I ran out of money to put into it. After a replaced radiator, it died again. I wound up trading it in for a Yukon and had $3000 in negative equity, plus the money I spent to have it fixed, making the total cost to me over $7000, and it was only worth $8500 to begin with. This was an absolute nightmare. NISSAN KNOWS ABOUT THIS PROBLEM AND THEY HAVE SHRUGGED THEIR SHOULDERS TIME AND TIME AGAIN AT LOYAL NISSAN OWNERS! Never will I ever own another Nissan, simply because Nissan DOES NOT care about its consumers."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Scottie (WA) on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Rugged on and off road, great 4x4 capability"
Cons: "lot's of plastic, engine noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own this vehicle and it's GREAT! I purchased mine used with just 32100. It handles well on and off the highway and has the get up and go to pull a filled 5X10 Uhaul type trailer. The engine has a nice growl. However, the engine sound can be excessive in the interior. The interior is made up a lot of hard durable plastic and isn't as plush as the Nissan Pathfinder, Armada, or the AWD Murano. Yet, is the very reason I chose to purchase an Xterra. The Xterra has great interior space, enough space to fit a love seat and with a rear interior made purposely with hard durable plastic I don't have to worry about tearing any carpet. The base package stereo is basically a single disc AM/FM radio and doesn't come with an MP3 plug in. Washington State has many off road areas and that's what the Xterra is made for. The stance on the Xterra is stout and aggressive and comes "right out of the box" ready to 4X4. The ride is comfortable on the road and the handling is surprising when navigating the clover leaf turn heading on to the highway and the engine has the get up and go to jump up to highway speeds. Yet, heading off the beaten path is what I enjoy about my Xterra. It's given me a reason to explore the off road."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Mike (AZ) on Sunday, March 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 121,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good power, handling, ride on and off road."
Cons: "Prone to transmission cooler failure!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I was very happy with my Xterra until I hit 110,000 miles (mostly highway miles) and had the transmission cooler fail. As with most other owners who have had this problem, this happened after warranty had expired. Cost me a new radiator and rebuilt transmission. Prior to the problem, it was a dream SUV. Plenty of power, comfortable ride for a truck chassis, and very reliable. The transmission cooler failure seems to be a fairly common problem, so I would not recommend keeping the car after the warranty expires...too great a risk of a very large repair bill! A shame, because it was really a great vehicle!"
18 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By SS (OR) on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect sport Utility! Very fun to own!!"
Cons: "Would like to have heated seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned this car from the beginning. Towed a trailer across the country, I go off-roading often, load it up and driving it all over town ever day. I would buy another just like it!"
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By JA90 (FL) on Sunday, February 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quick engine, great looking, ready for anything."
Cons: "Expensive recalls, poor fuel economy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I completely understand when others express their dislike for the Xterra, and that's because it's not a vehicle for everyone. It is a specialty vehicle. If you just want a vehicle where you sit "higher up" to run errands and make your daily commute in, than the Nissan Xterra is not for you. On the contrary, if you want one of the most powerful small-size SUVs on the market that can handle 5000 pounds trailing behind it, the toughest of 4x4 trails, rides stiff like a true truck, and isn't packed with useless luxury features like heated steering wheels and memory seats, than the Xterra is perfect for you. It has an extremely well-assembled interior, with perfectly fitted easy-to-clean plastics being the main cabin material of choice. The buttons and controls for AC and the great radio are very well-placed, and the attractive cloth seats are very comfortable and easy to clean. The exterior is a love it or hate it; I happen to find the boxy, muscular appearance very rugged and cool. Something that I did not expect out of the Xterra was the fact that the 4.0L 261-hp V6 engine is actually quite fast. You can blow past most sedans on the road from a red light, and highway passing (even at speeds upwards of 70mph) is very easy for the Xterra. It is very torquey at low RPMs and has another intense powerband around 4000 RPMs. This SUV does, after all, share a modified version of the celebrated VQ35DE engine found in the Maxima and 350Z. Cargo space is more than adequate and the roof rack is best-in-class. Steering is deliberate and due to the short wheelbase the Xterra maneuvers somewhat like a large family sedan rather than a bulky SUV. Brakes are very responsive and smooth. The stock tires handle extremely well in rainy conditions, though I would recommend Michelins to enhance performance even more. True to its truck roots, suspension is a bit bouncy on pavement (which some may find fun), as it is tuned to handle off-roading purposes. Being well over six feet tall, the Xterra is very top heavy -- slightly more so than your average SUV. Combined with a speedy V6, some caution must be exercised when rounding tight corners or making abrupt lane changes. Fuel economy is dismal at around 14/20; and a 21-gallon tank makes spending $75.00 at the pump common. However, this is to be expected with a strong 4.0L engine like the Xterra's. As with any used vehicle except maybe a Honda, there are a couple of technical service bulletins posted on 2005-2008 Xterras that are very serious. This includes the timing chain tensioners being inadequately constructed, an issue which will result in a slight whine upon acceleration around 80,000 miles. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive issue to resolve, costing around $900-$1,200 and requiring almost the entire engine to be dismantled. Another problem is the coolant leaking into the transmission fluid, leading to transmission failure. This is also a very expensive issue to take care of, especially if a full transmission replacement is involved. As with any used-car purchase, you should do your research so you know exactly what you're getting into. In conclusion, if you know what you're buying and the Xterra fits your needs, there is simply no better choice. The 2nd generation Xterra speaks for itself, 2014 will be its 10th model year running. Kudos to Nissan for creating an awesome product."
21 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By CIA007 (GA) on Monday, February 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Ordered this one new to get the manual transmission. This is a great SUV. Taken it everywhere, on road and off road, completely stock no modifications and it does great. Only in shop for maintenance never any problems or issues."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful