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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 456 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

WORST VEHICLE EVER!!

By on Monday, June 01, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Bad Engineering

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
2/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Looks Cool"

Cons: "Many design flaws"

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

"I've owned 4 Nissans in my life. The first was a bulletproof 97 Pathfinder, the second was a 2005 350Z that was a nice car for the money, the third was a 2001 Xterra SE that I bought with 200,000 miles, at 245,000 the engine blew & I sold it. The fourth was a 2005 Xterra SE with 70k miles. I was excited about the new 4.0 and redesigned body. After owning it for 2 years I felt like I had been completely robbed. I replaced the radiator three times along with the transmission, I replaced the wheel hub assembly and wheel bearing, I went through 3 sets of brakes and rotors. I replaced the serpentine belt, tensioner & belt, pulley, fan, electrical fan, fan shroud & bracket...the list goes on...I called Nissan about the transmission because it went at 82,000 miles. Nissan knew about a major design flaw in Pathfinders, Frontiers & Xterras from 05 and up. The oil cooler hose leaks coolant into the tranny causing the trans fluid & colant to mix resulting in failure. They never issued a recall, they just extended the warranty on the transmission to 80k. The problem with this is that the problem occurs over 80k. Since I was at 82k they basically told me tough luck. I can't understand how a company can sell a product that they know is defective and not stand by their mistake. I was lucky enough to get out of this nightmare and purchase a brand new Jeep Wrangler. I was a loyal Nissan customer, but I'll never buy anything from Nissan for the rest of my life. I would recommend Jeep or Toyota, they stand by their product."

I have loved this vehicle..

By on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 157,000

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
8/10

Pros: "fun to drive, great car, roomy,"

Cons: "gas mileage, and needs a moon roof..."

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

"This vehicle has been a very good vehicle, I am just ready for a changed I have had it for 9 years and has been very reliable. I love the 4x4 what fun and quality for an SUV... Thanks Nissan"

Best vehicle I have owned

By on Saturday, May 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive"

Cons: "Lack of some more modern safety features"

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

"Very easy to drive. Have had no mechanical problems, however mileage is low. Very powerful for a truck this heavy. Gas mileage a little disappointing. Very capable off road vehicle."

Love the Xterra

By on Thursday, May 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Rugged yet Refined"

Cons: "???"

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

"After one year of ownership, the Xterra has performed great, especially during the 2014 - 2015 Winter. I could not be happier with the purchase. As a manual only driver, I am thrilled to find the PRO 4X version has many bells/whistles not available with any other "sticks". This manual even has PEP! I deliberated too long between this and a slightly smaller/ more "refined" manual transmission and can say I'm glad I chose the real SUV. As a coach, and sportsman the Xterra has more than ample room for all my gear. I've always loved the design and only wished I had purchased an Xterra sooner."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

I love the spunk and reliability of this vehicle

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,486

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great Brand. Fun to drive. Right size."

Cons: "Too small for larger families."

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

"This is a wonderful vehicle for one person or as a second car for a small family. I really like the "get up and go" this vehicle provides. I am an older person and I need my runner to access the Xterra, but do not find this too inconvenient. Love, love, love it! I purchased this in 2009 as a used vehicle and it has served me well!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

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."

15 people out of 19 found this review helpful

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