This past week I was presented for review a new Nissan Xterra, the compact SUV that has been in production for about twelve years. Nissan, formerly Datsun, has been in business for almost 100 years (1914), and is now the sixth largest auto manufacturer in the world. I actually owned a brand new 1971 Datsun pickup when I lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was the model 1600 and cost about that many dollars, right off the show room floor. I bought it for the purpose of carrying surfboards and surfer friends back and forth to the beach. Since I didn’t surf, in retrospect, I guess these “friends” had a bit too much influence over my automobile shopping practices. It was nonetheless a fun time for me and the Datsun, which was ultimately traded off for a sedan (same brand), after I married my Nebraska sweetheart.
This Nissan Xterra I reviewed last week was the Pro-4X deluxe model with specific roof-rack-mounted off-road lights, Bilstein performance shocks, triple skid plates, 16” machine-finished alloy wheels, locking rear differential, P265/75R15 BFG Rugged Trail T/A tires, locking rear differential, hill descent/start controls, Rockford Fosgate 6-CD stereo, Bluetooth phone, and special gauges. The Xterra comes in rear-wheel drive configuration, but the Pro-4X I drove is four-wheel drive. That, plus the locking diff and ground clearance, allow this machine to scream “Moab or bust”, everywhere it goes.
The M.S.R.P. for the Pro-4X was $31,910.00, including freight, floor mats, and Ipod interface. Power was supplied by a 4 liter, 261 horsepower V-6 (torque – 281 lb. ft. ), backed up by a smooth, five-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is “shift on the fly”, up to 62 mpg – 2 speed transfer case included. Weight of the vehicle is 4,432 lbs., and the wheelbase/length numbers are 106.3” and 178.7”, or just under 15 ft. long. This leaves the fuel economy figures at 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, with a 21.1 gallon tank.
Up front are two cushy, specially-trimmed cloth buckets, and in the second row is a three passenger, flop-down seat – when down, the total cargo capacity is 65.7 cu. ft. The second row of seats sit “stadium seating” style for better visibility for the folks back there. The roof is raised in this vehicle between the front and rear doors, as well. This styling is a hallmark of the second generation of Xterra sold since 2005 – including the back door handles mounted on the “C” pillars to give the vehicle a 2-door look. Front and rear bumpers are painted so that scratches don’t show up, fenders bulge out on all four corners, and the tailgate has a hump where a first-aid kit resides. This is a military-style off-road rig that was happily received by the American consumer to the tune of 80,000 units in 2002. Sales have slumped somewhat since then, probably a result of gasoline price increases.
When the Xterra arrived here last week, I felt that I would be disappointed after driving a $50 thousand sports sedan the week before. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the Xterra’s comfort and drivability.