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 2009 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 faces tough competition from Jeep's 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 2009 Nissan 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.
Nissan updates the Xterra for 2009 with a freshened front end, new roof-mounted off-road lights (Off-Road trim only), new wheel designs, seat materials and colors. Roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags with roll-over sensors are made standard, while the Xterra's option packages have been simplified to just two choices: Technology and X Gear.
Driving Impressions Around town and on the highway, the 2009 Nissan Xterra rides and handles impressively; it tracks straight, rides smooth and handles even higher-speed sweeping turns as calmly and confidently as...a solid sedan. Its impressive V6 powerplant, a modified version of the engines found in the company's 350Z and G35, quietly delivers power whenever you need it. 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 Nissan Frontier pickup, the Xterra would likely traverse 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 long wheelbase and tall height create ample 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 a long way from pavement. The 2009 Nissan Xterra appears to sit on the road with a comforting sense of security, thanks in large part to its long wheelbase and short overhangs, as well as its wide, 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 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, single CD sound system, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and an Easy Clean cargo area surface with multiple heavy-duty hooks and Utili-track Cargo Channel System. Standard safety equipment includes front seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front-seat active head restraints and a tire pressure monitoring system.
For 2009, Nissan bundles the Xterra's options into two packages. The Technology Package (S, Off-Road and SE only) adds a Rockford-Fosgate stereo with six-disc CD changer, eight speakers and subwoofer, steering wheel audio controls, XM Satellite Radio (automatic transmission only), Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio input jack. The X Gear Package (S and SE only) adds roof rack crossbars, first aid kit, gear basket and fog lights.
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: 16/20 (2WD, manual), 15/21 (2WD, automatic), 16/20 (4WD, manual), 15/20 (4WD, automatic)
By Jim on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Gas mileage, high mileage
Pros: "Power, off-road capability, 6-speed manual"
Cons: "Gas mileage, rear seat access, cost to repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I had a blast with this car for 4 years before selling it to get a newer vehicle. It's surprisingly fast, but you'll pay for it at the pump, and otherwise its a rough and rugged go-anywhere SUV that isn't quite like anything else. I sold it because I put a lot of miles on my vehicles, so I wanted something a little better on gas, plus it was just getting up there in mileage. It ran and looked great when I sold it with about 150k miles, and I (well, "we," including my fiance and friends) still miss it. I took it from GA to Manhattan to Denver, and lots of places in between. I've slept in it, crossed rivers, crawled over boulders, got up over 115 mph on the highway, and hauled groceries and mulch. The only time it didn't start for me was when I had a dead battery, and all we did was push it far enough to pop the clutch, and that got us to the auto parts store for a new one. I ended up putting a good bit into proactive repairs, but it probably could have gone without some of it. I'm an engineer, and like my vehicles running smoothly. Two expensive maintenance costs to look out for: 1. Clutch (manuals only). The factory one is undersized, and will often go out before 100k miles. Dealers want around $2k to replace it due to the excessive labor required. Highly recommend replacing factory clutch with a Jim Wolf Technologies part, which should be a wash in cost. 2. Raditator/Tranny Leak (automatics only): Major issue with certain models/years. Wasn't a problem for me, but could cost you thousands if you have an automatic."
By BuzzBuzz on Saturday, May 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Everything. Plain and simple"
Cons: "NOTHING at All."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has been through it all, and it still runs like the day I got it. :) This is not just a car, it is my best friend. I'm not gonna sell this work of art any time soon. I'm s grateful for this amazing car, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested!!!!! Trust me, it will be worth it."
16 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Jim on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is by far the best vehicle I have ever driven on snow/ice covered roads. The Xterra is a beast on mountain passes in any weather!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Alaskan on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great handling on slick roads, spunky"
Cons: "poor storage in front:pens, sunglasses, tablet,etc"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We have a 2007,drive it in 4x4 for months at a time, in snow/ice, and average almost 20,000 miles/year. Can't understand others' mileage numbers: we consistently get 20 mpg. It is a manual, so maybe that's the difference. Don't like the lack of storage in the front seat. room for coffee cups and that's it. Took out the back seats long ago, have hauled lots of cargo in it, even 8' lumber. Very few mechanical problems; but the gas gauge went bad.Very irritating. Back to dealer only once in 7 years for work."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Disappointed on Wednesday, May 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, ruggedness"
Cons: "Really poor quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"My Xterra has been a money drain since I purchased it new in 2006. I am a 40+ year old mother with a husband and two young boys - we're not hard on a vehicle. I've replaced several serpentine belts, the heat/ac switch, the alternator, radiator, drivers window motor, in-tank fuel filter, rear hatch lock, U-bolts and one and on. Of late, I replaced a cracked radiator and am currently trying to save the transmission which has radiator fluid running through it (a very common Xterra issue). I love it's looks both inside and out and the gas mileage is pretty good for its class, but I'll absolutely never ever purchase another Nissan. It's too unreliable and costly."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Ryan on Friday, May 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,800overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sturdy, drives like a truck."
Cons: "Bumpy, expensive repairs inevitable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"There's no frills when it comes to an Xterra. It's a sturdy, fairly reliable SUV that can get you where you need to go. Throw your EPA mileage out the window. I average 15-16 driving conservatively. Pre-2008 autos have a serious problem with the trans cooler that can blow your transmission, and Nissan only warranties it to 70k, leaving repair costs to the vehicle owner."
12 people out of 13 found this review helpful