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2012 Nissan Xterra

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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 464 Ratings for the 2005 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Best Rugged SUV Out There

By on Friday, August 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great looks, performance, comfort, practicality"

Cons: "Gas guzzler"

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

"I purchased a 2007 used SE in 2013 and have had a good experience so far with it (now 2015). This is my second Xterra and sorry to see them go after this year. But the truck does eat gas. Plenty of power in the renowned 4.0 V6 taken out of the older Z car. I am over 6 ft tall and this is one of the few vehicles I feel comfortable driving. The driving position is a sitting position and not a lying down position with legs extended forward as in the Forerunner, which is made for short people. The X is the best looking SUV I have seen other than the Jeep G Cherokee too which is twice the cost. It has been reliable other than replacing the power window motor in the front passenger side which set me back $450."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

I Love my Truck

By on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Dependable, plenty of space, drives great"

Cons: "Fosgate stereo has no DVD player"

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

"I love my truck! Seats are easy to change from sitting to flat-plenty of space for seating, both front and back. Drives awesome--a tad bit tippy-feeling if it is empty, but otherwise, rides like a truck--meaty, not "floating" all over the road. Handles speed great and eats up bumpy and 4x4 driving like a race horse. 4x4 driving during winter even on icy roads is great. Engine and power are great when its needed--Best vehicle I have ever owned."

13 people out of 21 found this review helpful

expect to be driving this vehicle for a long time

By on Friday, July 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"precisely what I was looking for in a versatile vehicle. Surprisingly smooth ride over the road a bonus."

4 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Capability plus Liveability

By on Thursday, July 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Capability, comfort, style"

Cons: "Gas mileage"

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

"Purchased my Xterra Pro-4X to find a happy medium between a Jeep Wrangler and an Acura TL. I've owned both. Two ends of the spectrum! Needed daily driver comfort and amenities and weekend capability on the beach and trails. The Xterra is the perfect combination. Able to take everything I throw at it off-road and comfortable for the daily work commute. Leather interior, technological amenities, room for passengers and cargo. This is a keeper. Only critique is gas mileage but you know that when you purchase. Unfortunate that this is the last year of the Xterra."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

BEST 4 X 4 VEHICLE OWN

By on Saturday, June 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

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: "ROUGH AND TOUGH"

Cons: "NONE SO FAR"

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

"BOUGHT THIS UNIT AFTER OUR HYUNDIA SANTA FA 2001 RUSTED OUT. OUR FIRST TRIP WITH IT TO GEORGIA FOR VACATION JUST LOVED THE RIDE AND CONFORT. WIFE WAS WARY AT FIRST BUT LOVES IT AND CLAIMED IT FOR HER SELF SO ITS HER RIDE HENCE NAME SHE CALLS IT FRED I WANTED TONKA FOR ROUGH. OVER ALL WE LOVE IT."

7 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Awesome SUV

By on Thursday, June 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,068

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Power, solid frame, off-road prowess, reliability"

Cons: "Gas mileage, transmission / radiator issues"

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

"The 2005 xterra was the fastest 0-60 SUV in production that year. Faster than the Porsche Cayenne. Even after 100,000 with regular oil changes it still rips when I want it to. I learned of the flaw with the radiator and had a trans-cooler put in for $300 before disaster struck. I also had to sink $1200 into the transmission and for that I give it an 8 in quality. Compared to some other brands $1500 over 10 years is pretty darn good. What I like best about this SUV is its solid build. It drives like a truck, not like a car with a truck body. It has alot of torque and climbs and four-wheels like no other. Very functional interior for outdoors or events, especially with the rubber floor mats and hard plastic fold down hatch. Lets just say that when I am ready to trade this one in, I'm getting another."

8 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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