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2012 Nissan Xterra

Overview
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2012 Nissan Xterra Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.8

Unlike so many SUVs that have moved to a more carlike unit-body design, the 2012 Nissan Xterra retains its traditional body-on-frame architecture, which is just fine by us and most off-road enthusiasts. Although its following is not as populous as that of the Jeep Wrangler, Xterra loyalists are nevertheless a dedicated bunch. They've stuck with this trusty SUV since its inception mainly because its mission has never changed. The 2012 Nissan Xterra continues as a rugged, off-road vehicle with a civilized interior, powerful V6 engine and a very reasonable bottom line. And, while it is true that new SUVs such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer offer more advanced off-road systems, they also cost about 10 grand more than the 2012 Nissan Xterra. From its built-in first-aid kit, to its adjustable cargo-hold track system, to the roof-mounted drying rack bin, the 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV makes no bones about its purpose and intent. It would much rather be deep in the forest covered in dirt than stuck in suburbia inside a heated garage, and we're betting the same applies to the Xterra's owner.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for something with the spirit of the old Jeep CJ, but that is far more reliable, the 2012 Nissan Xterra has you covered. The 2012 Nissan Xterra's rugged frame and 4-wheel-drive system can tackle the worst of the outback, while its comfortable interior and adept suspension make it a very livable daily driver.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your idea of rugged adventuring is driving over snow-covered roads to reach the local ski resort, a Subaru Forester or Dodge Journey may be a more comfortable choice and offer better fuel economy.

What's Significant About This Car?

Other than two new colors, there are no major changes for the 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV.

Driving the Xterra

Driving Impressions Given the 2012 Nissan Xterra's generous ground clearance, tall ride height and oversized tires, one might think this off-road king would be a handful on paved roads. But, surprisingly, Nissan...

has created a vehicle that handles very well in the civilized world. On the freeway the Xterra tracks straight and true, delivers a ride on par with most mid-size pickup trucks and generally feels stable at high speeds. The Xterra's 4.0-liter V6 engine is a modified version of the V6 found in the 370Z, meaning there is no lack of low-end torque necessary for passing slower cars or climbing dirt trails. In our off-road test, we dragged our 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV through muddy ruts, over fallen logs and even through streams and creek beds. In all situations the Xterra performed as promised, never once leaving us feeling that we could get stuck or that we were in over our heads.

Versatile Cargo Area
In addition to no-carpet and Easy Clean surfaces, the 2012 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).

Side Steps
Integrated into the body of the vehicle, the Xterra SUV's side steps make it easy to access and secure cargo at the rear of the roof.

2012 Nissan Xterra Details
Interior

Inside the 2012 Nissan Xterra is a world quite opposite the vehicle's rugged exterior. The tall roof makes for an open and airy cabin, while theater-style raised rear seats allow back-seat passengers an equally good view of the trail ahead. The Xterra's seats are comfortable and supportive, and the dash and instruments are logically arranged with large knobs that are easy to reach and operate while bouncing along unpaved roads. In addition to the numerous storage bins, the 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV includes dual-stacked glove compartments, numerous 12-volt outlets and A-pillar-mounted grab handles. The Xterra's cargo hold can be equipped with a durable and easy-to-clean vinyl covering as well as the Utili-track cargo-management system for anchoring bikes or other gear. The 60/40 rear seat can be folded flat, as can the front passenger seat to create an extended floor for loading tall objects (think surfboard or skis).

Exterior

If you squint hard enough at a 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV, you can almost make out a faint shadow of the classic old Land Rover that once crossed the plains of Africa. The rough-and-rugged 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV offers a number of cool features useful to off-road adventurers, such as the latchable bin at the front of the roof-mounted rack and integrated steps in the rear bumper that make roof access a whole lot easier. On the PRO-4X, the roof rack gains integrated off-road lights ideal for late night excursions into the unknown. The 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV's long wheelbase and wide stance make it equally at home on winding back roads as it is traversing a boulder-strewn wash.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Features on the base 2012 Nissan Xterra X SUV include a 4.0-liter V6, 5-speed automatic, 4-wheel disc brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, stability control, single-disc 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.

Optional Equipment

The 4x4 versions of the 2012 Nissan Xterra S and PRO-4X come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission but can be upgraded to a 5-speed automatic. The PRO-4X brings Roof-Mounted Off-Road Lights in the air dam, silver headlight inner color, black body-side molding, fold-down front passenger 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 2-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 6-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. Strangely, Nissan does not offer a rearview camera or navigation system on the Xterra, something that might come in handy if one gets lost.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Nissan Xterra SUV'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.

4.0-liter V6
261 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD, automatic), 16/20 (4WD, manual), 15/20 (4WD, automatic)

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2012 Nissan Xterra Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 449 Ratings for the 2005 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Utility. Tons of utility. Great value/durability.

By on Monday, March 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 103,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Utility, Customization, Size, 4x4"

Cons: "MPG"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"After 8 years, I've had normal maintenance and only a few minor repairs. The Nissan Xterra is a great vehicle. PROS: -So much utility. The inside is easy to wipe down. Fold down the bench and haul almost anything. Inside cargo area plus the top rack are great for wet things, tools, tow rope, etc. -Customization. I added fog lights, hitch, cargo rack, and inside netting. -Size. It's not too big but not compact. It's a great size for a family of four or a single guy and his buddies + gear. -4x4. The 4WD has performed excellent in Indiana winters. It pulls through the snow. -Sits high. Easy to see forwards and outside all side windows. It's minor but an advantage over several other SUVs. CONS: -Trunk Shocks. They'll fail eventually in the cold. Replace them with a higher rating or be prepared to hold the trunk open with your head. -Rear side doors have a narrow opening. It's sometimes a problem with kids and often a problem with adults. -MPG. What started as 20-21 highway turned into 18. Average is 16.5 total."

12 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Perfect 4x4 for my needs

By on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Good off-road capability, smooth drive on pavement"

Cons: "MPG could be a tad better, 4WD High might hang"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Back in 2010, I decided it was time to purchase a 4x4 to do some moderate (not hard core) off-roading here in Colorado. After some research, I decided a used Xterra was the vehicle I wanted because it looked like a vehicle capable of handing off-road terrain while also providing a decent ride on paved surfaces. I went shopping and liked it so much I ended up buying a new 2010 Off-Road version. After about five years of owning this vehicle, I absolutely love the thing! We've been up just about every "moderate" trail in the state as well as several "hard" trails, shying away only from those trails where vehicle damage would be pretty certain. The locking differential has been invaluable on steep two/three wheel crawls. Even after owning it all this time, I am still impressed by how comfortable it is to drive for hours on paved roads, then go off road and beat the thing up over tens of thousands of rocks, and then jump back on a highway and have it drive just as smooth as ever. I've used it to tow several trailers carrying loads of 2,000 to 4,000 lbs (moving daughter twice and mother once), hauled a ton of rocks, taken trips to the East and West coasts and Canada, and am planning a trip up to Alaska to check out the wilderness there. I have had zero issues to date (knock on wood), and it remains a pleasure to drive. Yes it's a truck, but with the wheel and tire size on the Off-Road, there's a nice amount of air cushion and it's very comfortable. We recently made a 1,900 mile round trip to Arizona and came back though one of the largest snow storms we've seen in the past decade, and it handled the trip nicely as always. I've had only one minor annoyance... that being that it sometimes takes a little longer to come back out of 4-wheel drive (high) than I'd prefer. Winter driving often means ice or snow-covered roads, then maybe a well-cleared road, and I like to get out of 4-wheel drive whenever it's not needed. Sometimes it doesn't want to pop back into 2-wheel drive right away. It's not a big deal, but I will likely look into addressing this annoyance when the weather gets warm again. Bottom line: I believe there is no better vehicle to give you both off-road capability and a smooth on-road drive. I find myself driving it even when taking the car would net better gas mileage because it just feels good to drive it!"

12 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Best vehicle I have ever owned

By on Sunday, February 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great price, fun to drive"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is a great midsize suv that is fun to drive. It has plenty of power. The S model has everything you need with a great sound system. The X model does not have all the extras but is still a great vehicle if you do not want the extras. This is the first vehicle that I have ever gotten in and just loved right away. I find myself finding excuses to drive it!"

5 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Great car overall. Relatively trouble free.

By on Saturday, February 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Great value, versatile, fairly reliable, durable."

Cons: "Stock rear suspension btms out on hvy bumps."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Off Road 2WD model. Bought with 70K miles. Replaced radiator when first bought to prevent potential leakage of coolant into transmission. Now have 180K miles. Replaced U-joints at 150K +/-. Always had problem with rear suspension bottoming out. Installed single add-a-leafs recently with xlnt results. Engine and transmission still run perfectly. Good power. 17 mpg city/ 20-21 hwy. Drives like a truck, but smooth on good pavement. Rockford Fosgate stereo has face melting volume; good for rock music, but not really "hi-fi"; backlit display no longer works, otherwise fine. Very versatile, fun vehicle. Get one if in good condition."

18 people out of 32 found this review helpful

Nice ride

By on Thursday, January 08, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Visibility and size"

Cons: "Hard for people to get in/out of back seat."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Like everything about it but gas mileage . Only trouble I have had is heater only blows total hot regardless of setting. Asked local dealer and they say they are all like that. Admittedly hard to believe."

16 people out of 33 found this review helpful

I LOVE this truck!!!

By on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,600

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, comfortable, looks beautiful!"

Cons: "Not real good on gas"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Other than normal maintenance, I have had no trouble with this truck! I love it so much. It is so comfortable and fun to drive as well as being very handy for hauling my stuff. As for the winter... multiple significant snowfalls, including one that buried me hub deep. Not once has this truck gotten stuck! Throw it in 4WD and off I go, no sweat!!!"

15 people out of 31 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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