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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's Significant About This Car?
Mud guards become standard on all four-wheel-drive models, and the Rockford Fosgate Audio Package now includes an auxiliary input jack.Driving It 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.
The Xterra performed admirably in our off-road tests, negotiating soggy access roads and fording streams deep enough to think twice about crossing. And judging from our off-road experience in another Xterra sibling, the all-new Nissan Frontier pickup, the Xterra would likely swallow large boulders just as well.
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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).Under the Hood
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)
The Xterra X has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $20,655, which jumps to $26,805 for the four-wheel-drive Off Road edition, and to more than $30,000 for a fully-loaded SE. The Fair Purchase Price page shows the typical transaction price paid for the Xterra in your area, so be sure to give it a look before you begin negotiations. Also be sure to check the Incentives tab to see what deals Nissan may be offering. Over a five-year period, Kelley Blue Book projects the four-wheel-drive Xterra's residual value to be about average, slightly stronger than the Jeep Liberty and Kia Sorento, but well below the new Jeep Wrangler.