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March 24, 2010 > Auto Review: Xterra by Nissan

Auto Review: Xterra by Nissan

Our latest test vehicle was a 2010 Xterra. The Xterra is Nissan's entry into the market for outdoor enthusiasts to fulfill all their needs as they have fun exploring the world around them. They are built with strong on and off road capabilities.

The 2010 Xterra is offered in four models - X, S, Off-Road and SE. The Off-Road model is available in 4-wheel drive only, while the X, S and SE are offered in both 2WD and 4WD configurations. The Off-Road models feature Bilstein high-performance gas shocks, a rear tire deflector and skid plates covering the oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case, and roof-mounted off-road lights. The Off-Road model and the X have a choice of the 6-speed manual transmission or the 5-speed automatic. However, the S and SE models use only a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The entry-level Xterra X offers a long list of standard features, including Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, engine-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, 60/40 split fold-flat 2nd row seat and Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS). The 2WD X starts at $22,450, and the automatic transmission costs an additional $800.

Our test Xterra was a 4WD S model. It included 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with BFGoodrich Long Trail tires, driver's seat lumbar support, step rails, Easy Clean Cargo surface and Nissan's C-Channel cargo floor with four moveable hooks to secure cargo. Its base price is $27,470. The base prices for the other models range up to $30,400.

All Xterras feature a 4.0-liter, V-6, engine that produces 261 HP and 281 pound feet of torque. Depending on the number of drive wheels and transmission, the EPA mileage estimates vary from 16/20 to 15/20 MPG.

Xterras are built on a rugged truck platform with a fully boxed, all-steel, ladder frame to enhance their off-road performance. Nissan's full size Titan pickup and the Armada SUV also use the same platform.

Both the SE and Off-Road models include a Rockford Fosgate audio system with an in-dash 6 CD changer, 8 speakers, subwoofer, steering wheel audio controls, XM Satellite Radio and a Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System.

We enjoyed our time with the Xterra. The front seats were very comfortable and provide good support. The outward visibility was great in every direction, and the large side mirrors let you see anything behind you. It is a big vehicle, so the front door handles seemed very high to us (we are used to sports cars).

Because the Xterra tops the scales at about 4400 pounds, its 261 HP engine provided slower acceleration than I expected. It had a reasonably quiet ride even though it was equipped with BF Goodrich Long Trail off-road tires. The factory roof rack system had a storage box on the roof and would have been great if we needed to carry more stuff than we could fit inside the Xterra.

If you want to go play outdoors or just haul your family down the freeway, the Xterra deserves a look.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
Member of the Motor Sports Press Association

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