Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000
  • 12 Best Family Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best Midsize SUVs
  • 10 Best AWD Cars & SUVs Under $25,000
Go

2012 Nissan Xterra

Overview
Share this page
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

Buying this car?

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)

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

Buying this car?

2012 Nissan Xterra Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 442 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
    9.0/10

Perfect for an active lifestyle!

By on Friday, November 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great for tall people, good looks, solid as a rock"

Cons: "No defroster in outside mirrors"

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

"Recently purchased a 2015 Xterra Pro-4X at the beginning of October 2014 here in northeast Ohio. I've always driven Nissan vehicles (since 1992) and never have had problems with them, other than routine maintenance. For example, my current car (which I kept when I purchased the new Xterra) is a 2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe (made by Nissan in Japan). It now is over 10 years old with over 130,000 miles and runs great. The only issue it has had so far is the electric radiator fan motor died around 70,000 miles. It cost around $750 to replace as the car was out of warranty by then. A month later I received a letter from Nissan stating that they have experienced a higher failure rate than expected for these motors, and to send them the bill for reimbursement. Nissan sent a check in the mail to cover the entire cost, when they didn't have to at all. Anyway, the G35 Coupe is not the best for driving in the snow as it is a rear wheel drive sports coupe. For bad weather and occasional off-road use, hauling my bicycle around, hauling other stuff as needed, and going on weekend camping trips, I purchased the new Xterra. Since I have been a Nissan fan over the years, I purposely spent a lot of time looking at the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, and Jeeps. None of them had the best combination of off-road capability and on-road driving comfort and utility, and features for the price compared to the Xterra. The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a very cool vehicle, but I did not like the suicide doors (to open the second door requires opening the driver or passenger door first), and the back door opens like a refrigerator instead of being a liftgate. The driving visibility in the FJ Cruiser is far worse than the Xterra. I am tall (6'-3") and do not have to duck my head down to see overhead traffic signals like I had to in the FJ Cruiser. The 4Runner was too long in length and too pricey (great vehicle to be sure). I do not need removable doors or removable roofs and the interior design of the Jeeps did not appeal to me. Jeeps are great vehicles but are overpriced for comparable equipment than the Xterra Pro-4X. I am averaging around 19 miles per gallon city/highway with the Xterra so far, which is a little better than I expected. No issues so far during the first 2,000 miles with the Xterra. This vehicle is solid as a rock with a true body on frame construction. Likes: Looks and doesn't look out of date to me even though this design is 10 years old (metallic blue is the best color), excellent stereo system, navigation, bluetooth, SiriusXM radio with weather and traffic, all buttons are lighted including steering wheel controls, heated seats, wheels look great, good quality BF Goodrich tires, very good fit and finish, everything is easy to use, temp display and compass on auto-dimming rearview mirror, reverse camera, strong heater and A/C, Bilstein shocks, handles amazingly well and steering has perfect feel, comfortable seats, excellent head room for a tall guy like me, good leg room, plenty of cargo capacity, seats fold flat, fits in my garage, shifts on the fly to 4WD without even a clunk (drove in snow the other day), best vehicle for the money hands down! Dislikes: plastics scratch easily, outside mirrors do not have defrosters, overhead vanity mirrors are not lighted, window on rear liftgate can not open- THAT'S IT FOR DISLIKES! This vehicle is perfect for single guys like me who live an active lifestyle. It's not really a family vehicle even though it certainly could do that. If you have little kids, they probably wouldn't even be able to reach the high rear door handles, LOL! Nissan has consistently sold around 1,100 Xterras a month for the last several years, with zero advertising or incentives, for a reason!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Basic and problem prone

By on Thursday, October 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 102,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
3/10
Comfort
4/10

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

"The transmission went out due to a coolant leak into the transmission system. No recall for this issue, but known problem. They did extend the warranty to 80,000, but most fail after that. There was a class action law suit, but only relief was high deductible repairs. No relief over 100,000 miles. Please be aware. It is a basic vehicle with a rough ride. It also started rusting in several locations."

1 person out of 4 found this review helpful

I love this car!

By on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000

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 vehicle for the price!"

Cons: "None."

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

"Handles well. Good power. Still looks new and performs well. I'll buy another when they bring back my color - yellow! Always see it in a parking lot!"

2 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Best SUV out there

By on Friday, October 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,300

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"There is nothing else that come close to the Xterra except maybe an overpriced Forerunner or Wrangler. It is the best looking, safest, and most reliable SUV you can buy, period. It is quite a value as well with gas prices going lower. My 2007 still turns heads with the streets full of Minivan-looking pretender "SUVs" in an overly politically correct world. Nissan has been trying to retire Xterra for years. Its too good to go down without a fight."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Treasure

By on Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "only vehicle I have ever named-says it all."

Cons: "no lock on glove box"

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

"This is the vehicle that I will never sell. I went up from a 2003 to an 05. Engine delivers better. I searched for a manual tranny and found one two states away. It was worth the drive. I get 17-18 mpg city, 21-22 HWY. It is easy to switch in and out of 4WD (I'm in the mountains). I actually towed a friend's 4WD Tahoe out of a foot or two of wet snow with this vehicle, and did so easily. I am a little unhappy that the glove compartment does not have a lock. But that isn't much to complain about. I've owned this Xterra for over 2 years- only needing to do typical maintenance. Yep. I am very pleased with this SUV."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great/ 2006 Xterra XTE 2WD, Tan/Gold, Reliable

By on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 165,539

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price, Fun to drive, Will be sad to sell"

Cons: "One cupholder in the back needs repair"

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

Tires basically brand new

"Xterra XTE 2006 2WD Very Good/ Excellent New Tires less than a year ago Most service records Recent oil change Never needs work/ Runs Great/ Always reliable Mileage 165,539 (all highway miles, owner #1 and #2 were both Sales Reps.) Since both owners were sales reps. all oil changes and services were always maintained promptly Sony Stereo Am/ FM/ CD/ Bluetooth/ Auxillary/ USB Port AC/ Heater/ EVERYTHING WORKS GREAT! Never been wrecked Extra heavy duty rubber mat for back 3 cigarette/ power Hydrolic Jack/ Work Light Xterra Net Safety Kit"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Tires basically brand new

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
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

Buying this car?