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2012 Nissan Xterra

Overview
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2012 Nissan Xterra Review

By

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 435 Ratings for the 2005 - 2014 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
    9.0/10

Powerful When Needed

By on Sunday, August 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Competitive price, fun to drive, reliable"

Cons: "Seat comfort, excessive speed in 1 Low"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"The Xterra S series had the hauling capacity we needed to build a home, the power needed to get up mountains weekly for skiing and hiking, and the lower price we wanted to pay compared to similar SUVs. While building our home in another town, I was returning to our current home alone late on a winter night. I was almost to the top of a mountain pass at 10,000' or so and had to pull off to relieve myself. Because there was 3' of new snow I could not see the deep ditch I pulled into until it was too late. The Xterra was banked at quite an angle. I attempted to pull forward a few times but the off-road front tire could not jump the embankment. After a moment of panic and review of my options, I threw the Xterra into 4 Low, gunned it in reverse and spun the steering wheel so the back tires could jump the embankment. This was risky because if it didn't work my front tires would now be in the ditch. But it worked! Strangely enough the front and rear tires had enough power to push me out but not pull me out. Being a female by myself in this remote area under these conditions late at night was scary, buy my Xterra got me out of this bind for which I'll be forever grateful. There are lots of useful gadgets on the S model that help with hauling, tying down, getting in, reorganizing, etc. Highly recommend Yokihama Geolander ATS tires for this car for all season/all terrain use. Items I've noticed that need improvement: 1) The seats, as usual like in 99% of cars, are very uncomfortable on both seat and back. The only car seats I've ever thought were comfortable in both front and back seats were my 1998 Aurora and 2005 Cadillac. I don't understand why manufacturers cheat on the comfort of seats and backs considering they are used 100% of the time. We are now looking for replacement seats by another manufacturer to improve comfort after using seat cushions and lumbar inserts for eight years. 2) While the Xterra has great traction, control, and clearance, when descending steep grades and using 1 Low to reduce speed and use of brakes, the Xterra still wants to speed up to about 20mph-too fast on steep grades and curves. The engine should slow the car down to 12mph max so the driver can control the Xterra without brakes."

7 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Fun to drive but few options available

By on Saturday, August 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Reliability, power, 4WD system, fun to drive."

Cons: "Few options, liftgate doesn't split"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Pretty much a bare bones car. Has good power and excellent 4WD. But luxury options are few. No sunroof available for example. Very reliable though. Nissans are known to last. The fact that the liftgate doesn't split can be annoying. There are plenty of cubby holes for storage. 6 cup holders in all is very helpful. 2 glove boxes also comes in handy. Not the best mileage however."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Great get up and go power for all terrains!

By on Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, great handling on all terrains."

Cons: "More durable upholstery."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Great handling SUV but not friendly at the gas pump when driving the hills and mountains of VA. It has a recall for radiator to transmission mixing r/i transmission failure. We had that problem fixed. Nissan needs to put more durable upholstery in this SUV as the seats wear too quickly. Overall a good car."

Dependable and Reliable

By on Sunday, August 03, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Large cargo space, durable, low maintenance"

Cons: "Gas mileage is not economical"

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

"I have had my Xterra for 3 years now and it is one of the most reliable and dependable vehicles I have ever owned. Suprisingly, this car will move fast on the highway if you have to punch it for boost speed. I have had one repair in 3 years which was the replacement of a fuel indicator switch. I have also put new tires on the vehicle. As one other person stated, it is like an old friend. There is a squeak here and there but nothing I would complain about. I have hauled enough rocks to hardscape a medium size back yard, enough lumber to build a sizable deck, towed other vehicles, pulled a 25' boat, etc. To say it is a workhorse is an understatement. It has been garage kept so the paint job looks new. Overall, I strongly recommend this vehicle if you are looking for an all purpose SUV. The biggest down side is fuel economy of which there is none. However, this vehicle has long been paid for so, for me, it is a small price to pay for the amount of value I have received from owning the vehicle during the past few years."

Powerful, Fun, and Capable Off-Road Vehicle

By on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Gas mileage, high mileage

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

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."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

THE MOST AMAZING CAR ON THE PLANET EARTH!!!!!!!!!!

By on Saturday, May 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000

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: "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."

18 people out of 26 found this review helpful

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