By KBB.com Editors
While many SUVs have morphed into cushy crossover family haulers or simply disappeared altogether, the 2011 Nissan Xterra remains true to the first vehicle ever to wear the Xterra name. Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Xterra has a loyal following – mostly weekend warriors and outdoor devotees, who love the vehicle for its rugged body-on-frame design, powerful standard V6 engine and desire to take on all things considered uncivilized. While its handsome exterior and comfortable ride make it perfectly acceptable as a daily driver, features like the built-in first-aid kit, adjustable cargo-hold track system and a roof-mounted drying rack appeal to those with active lifestyles.
If a removable hardtop is not a feature you covet, the next best thing to owning a Jeep Wrangler is owning the 2011 Nissan Xterra. The Xterra's interior is more civilized than the Jeep's, not to mention quieter.
A simplified model line marks the biggest change for 2011. There are now three Xterras from which to choose: X, S and PRO-4X.
Driving Impressions With its large tires, significant ground clearance and tall ride height, one might expect the 2011 Nissan Xterra to be a handful on the road. But, we found the Xterra...is quite confident in all driving situations; it tracks straight, is fairly comfortable on smooth roads and, even taking turns at higher speeds, feels as planted and predictable as a standard sedan. Using a modified version of the V6 engine found in the 370Z, the Xterra has no problem delivering power when requested, even on high-altitude mountain passes. In our off-road test, we pushed the Xterra through soggy trail ruts, over fallen logs and even forded a creek that, in retrospect, we probably should not have attempted with life vests, but survived without incident.
Versatile Cargo Area
In addition to no-carpet and Easy Clean surfaces, the 2011 Nissan 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 (4X4 models only).
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 2011 Nissan Xterra's tall roof creates an open and accommodating cabin, while theatre-style rear seating allows backseat occupants a clear view of the road ahead. Rear 60/40-split seats combine with a fold-flat front passenger's seat to create enough room for lengthy outdoor gear (or tall floor lamps). The cargo area is covered in a durable and easy-to-clean vinyl covering and includes tie-down latches for anchoring equipment and luggage. From the driver's seat, the Xterra's controls are easy to view and operate, with large knobs and switches backlit in orange light. The Xterra's clean and purposeful interior comes with dual-stacked glove compartments, multiple 12-volt outlets and a versatile cargo area.
Looking like a modern version of the old Land Rovers so commonly seen traversing African plains, the 2011 Nissan Xterra is clearly a vehicle that prefers roughing it. Adding to its rugged good looks is a large, tubular roof rack and a stepped roof. A 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; PRO-4X models are equipped with roof-mounted off-road lamps integrated into the roof-rack air damn. Thanks in part to its short overhangs and wide prominent stance, the Xterra never feels top heavy when rounding corners or crawling over uneven surfaces.
Features on the base Xterra X include a 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic, 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, and cruise control. The S trim adds an Easy Clean cargo area surface with multiple heavy-duty hooks and Utili-track Cargo Channel System, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with BFGoodrich Long Trail tires, driver's-seat lumbar support, step rails, roof rack crossbars (4x4 only), gear basket (4x4 only) and a first aid kit. 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.
4x4 versions of the S and PRO-4X come standard with a six-speed manual transmission but can be upgraded to a five-speed automatic. The PRO-4X brings Roof-Mounted Off-Road Lights in the air dam, silver headlight inner color, black bodyside molding, fold-down front passenger's seat with backboard, leather-wrapped steering wheel, P265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A off-road tires, rugged 16-inch wheels, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist (automatic transmission only), electronic locking rear differential, switch operated two-speed transfer case, high performance Bilstein gas-filled shocks and oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case skid plates. All PRO-4X models also include standard Rockford Fosgate-powered audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, eight speakers and subwoofer, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and XM Satellite Radio capability. A Leather Package can be added to the PRO-4X. Additional equipment for the 2011 Nissan Xterra varies by trim and includes a cargo cover, iPod interface, floor mats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass.
The 2011 Nissan 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 for it at the pump.
261 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
281 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (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