The rugged SUV that looks great when muddy.
In an era when most crossovers are designed for suburbs and shopping malls rather than muddy trails, the Xterra is a stubborn reminder of the SUV’s origins. Built on the same tough platform as the Titan and Frontier trucks, the Xterra can crawl up rocky hills, splash through mud, and tackle just about anything you throw at it. With all that capability, it’s fitting that the exterior styling is bold and macho. Buyers can choose between rear-and four-wheel drive; all models have big approach angles and plentiful ground clearance. Although it can’t be hosed out as easily as the Jeep Wrangler, the Xterra’s interior materials are durable and easy to clean. Depending on the trim level, goodies like a locking rear differential, skid plates, roof-mounted lights, ceiling hooks in the cargo area, and even a first aid kit are included. The Xterra’s 4.0-liter V-6 provides an ample 261 hp and can be mated to a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Because it is so capable, the Xterra is less comfortable and proficient on the road than are similarly priced crossovers. The soft suspension that helps the Xterra excel in the woods can make for a bouncy ride and soggy handling on pavement. It’s not the most refined SUV on the market, but the Xterra is ideal for those who want macho off-roading ability.
Suzuki Grand Vitara
new for 2013
Nissan has not yet announced any changes for the 2013 Xterra.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability and traction control, ABS, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Very capable off-road
Powerful V-6 engine
Poor on-road handling
Middling fuel economy
Base Price Range: $25,500–$32,000 (est.)
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: X, S, PRO-4X
BODY STYLE: SUV, 5-passenger
ENGINE: 4.0L V-6, 261 hp, 281 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 98.8 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 5000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 36.3/65.7 cu ft