Nissan Xterra Overland Profile

Nissan’s brand new 1999 model going by the name “Xterra,” was licensed and named after the Xterra triathlon racing series. Just as the name implies, these SUVs are purposefully built to tackle terrains much rougher than plain asphalt.

Unfortunately, after 2 decent generations, the Nissan Xterra was cut off from the North American market in 2015. Why was it discontinued?

The reasons are straightforward. The vehicle was extremely fuel-thirsty at a time when gas prices were peaking high. That led to a huge decline in sales. Other reasons cited include the requirements for upgrading safety according to new laws and restrictions.

Now don’t confuse the Xterra with the X-terra. The Xterra is built on the F-Alpha platform, unlike the X-terra, which seems to be an altered version of the Nissan Navara. And…it’s nothing close to the real Xterra, so let’s not even get into that.

Models

ModelYearsEngineBHPTorque (lb-ft)MPG (city/hwy)
XE V620013.3 Liter SOHC V-6170 @ 4800 RPM200 @ 2800 RPM16 / 19
SE20043.3 Liter V6 S/C210 @ 4800 RPM246 @ 2800 RPM14 / 18
Off Road20094.0 Liter DOHC V6 VQ40DE261 @ 5600 RPM281 @ 4000 RPM16 / 20
X20114.0 Liter DOHC V6 VQ40DE261 @ 5600 RPM281 @ 4000 RPM15 / 20
S20124.0 Liter DOHC V6 VQ40DE261 @ 5600 RPM281 @ 4000 RPM16 / 22
Pro-4X20154.0 Liter DOHC V6 VQ40DE261 @ 5600 RPM281 @ 4000 RPM15 / 20

Cost

★★

Purchasing Cost

The Nissan Xterra has always been kept at an exceptionally affordable price so that people who seek adventurous thrills are not always pressured to tear past their wallet capacity to get a decent 4X4. The Xterra is a “truck,” and it doesn’t try to hide that by offering any petty gimmicks.

Prices can be as low as $2500 for an early 2000s model with 100,000+ miles and as moderate as $27,000 for a 2015 Pro 4X. The reason for the large difference being, it’s getting more and more difficult to find a well-maintained Xterra with manual transmission.

So if you happen to be lucky enough to find one, grab it right away!

The price will majorly depend on maintenance, mileage, and model year. However, you can get a better off 2010+ model at somewhere in between $12,000 – $15,000.

Maintenance Cost

As is the case with any vehicle, the truck’s longevity is subject to how well the owner maintains it. Xterras are quite rock-solid and require just minimal maintenance schedules. The more common issues with the model years 2005 – 2007 are ac evaporation sensor and distributor malfunctions.

Fuel efficiency is one of Xterra’s major stumbling blocks. The first-gen has an average mileage of 15-19 mpg, and the second with about 16 – 22 mpg on average, even with supercharger engine options. So you won’t be able to save much on the gas with an Xterra.

Since we have the only option of buying a used one, be ready to see big numbers on the odometer. Still, not to worry, as the Xterra is sturdy enough for you to squeeze out 300,000 miles even.

Reliability

★★☆☆

The Xterra won Motor Trend’s Sport Utility of the Year in its very first year-round itself. However, even though a good part of its adherents rank it as unstoppable and such, it did have quite a few red flags along the way.

The model years you should avoid when buying a used Xterra are 2005 to 2007. This is because these three models have had the most recurring issues like transmission failures, leaking radiators, and sudden loss of engine power.

Apart from that, the Nissan Xterra is a reliable all-purpose exploration vehicle – and it has received similar praises from all over the world.

It has had very few recalls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The latest model we have, the 2015 Xterra, scored 4/5 stars for reliability from Consumer Reports and a good dependability rating from J.D. Power.

Parts

★★☆☆

Parts Accessibility

The Xterra is Nissan’s first-ever model to be fully designed, engineered, and produced in the U.S. itself. As a result, finding replacement parts and spares for a vehicle that was built here is a nippy task.

Even if you’re out of the U.S., you will be able to find parts easily as the Xterra has no haywire complicated engineering underneath its skull. Instead, it is as simple and easy as it should be.

So your local repair shop may already have replacement parts that are compatible with an Xterra.

Aftermarket Upgrades

Aftermarket suppliers and companies didn’t really picture the Nissan Xterra as an off-road/overland build base. Thus, there isn’t much heavy aftermarket support for the Xterra.

Still, you can build a well-planned vehicle with the moderate upgrades available.

The good thing about an Xterra is that it’s one of the very few SUVs designed especially for off-roading purposes. So even as a vehicle straight out of the factory, it is already off-road capable as some of its built-in parts are actually ‘aftermarket upgrades’ for many other vehicles.

It can be a practical outdoor rig even without heavy modifications.

Storage

★★

Nissan has always marketed the Xterra with advertisements featuring athletes, snowboarders, etc.

One thing that’s often overlooked with the Xterra is its spacious interior and external storage options. It comes with an uncarpeted cargo room, roof rack, several storage compartments, and hidden storage space under the floor.

You can also fold down the front seat for some extra space near you – something not many brands tend to offer.

If space is one of your priorities, I’d suggest you go for the older models as they are slightly more spacious with the interior than the recent ones.

Xterra XE V6 (2001)

Overall Length178.0”
Overall Width70.4”
Wheelbase104.3”
Unladen Height74.0”
Unladen Weight3668 – 3698 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight5000 lbs

Xterra Off Road (2009)

Overall Length178.7”
Overall Width72.8”
Wheelbase106.3”
Unladen Height74.9”
Unladen Weight4387 – 4402 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight5400 lbs

Xterra Pro-4X (2015)

Overall Length178.7”
Overall Width72.8”
Wheelbase106.3”
Unladen Height74.9”
Unladen Weight4408 – 4425 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight5399 lbs

Comfort

★★☆☆

The Xterra was never meant to be comfy or modern. With the Xterra, you can get great off-road ruggedness – but only at the expense of giving up comfort and luxury.

The base model comes with a NissanConnect multimedia system, 5” audio display, hands-free messaging, and Bluetooth. You can also opt for touchscreen navigation and heated leather seats if you’d like.

For more enhanced comfort amenities, you can always rely on the aftermarket mods. The vehicle handling is particularly rough and bumpy with its hard suspension. But, again, comfort is not on top of the list for an overlander. The same goes for the Xterra.

Safety

★★☆☆

The Xterra is a relatively safe vehicle with Nissan’s VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), ABLS, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution mechanism. Standard safety features include front airbags, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system, and roof-mounted side curtain airbags.

You have to keep in mind that this was in the 2010s – which means these were quite impressive for a time as such.

The Xterra has scored both good and bad in the series of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For a vehicle that boasts such a multitude of safety features, this may seem unimpressive for some, including me.

Off-Road

★★

Just as the President of NDI, Jerry Hirshberg, commented on the Xterra saying that it’s designed to look better dirty than clean, it portrays itself as a great rig for off-roading activities.

It does not boast tremendous power like a Defender or 4Runner, but the vehicle is built on body-on-frame construction – a purebred “Sport Utility Vehicle” that is very uncommon today.

The early first-gen models came with LSD and the second gens were upgraded to a rear locking differential.

Even more so, with the Pro-4X trim, you can get Dana rear axles, hill descent control and hill start assist, electronic rear lock and Bilstein off-road performance shocks, etc., to boost the Xterra’s off-road strengths.

BasisXE V6 (2001)Off Road (2009)Pro-4X (2015)
Break-over Angle (°)23.823.823.8
Approach Angle (°)3333.233.2
Departure Angle (°)2929.429.4
Min. Ground Clearance (inch)8.49.59.5

Nissan Xterra Overland Build Example

Equipment

  • Roof Rack: Xterra Roof Rack by Dephep
  • Tent: Smittybilt Overlander Tent
  • Fridge: ARB 10810602 Portable Fridge/Freezer
  • Compressor: Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
  • Water Storage: Front Runner Upright Water Tank

Drivetrain

  • Tires: BFGoodrich KO2 35” All-Terrain Tires 315/75/16
  • Wheels: Level 8 Motorsport 16″ Bully Pro Wheels
  • Suspension: Old Man Emu Heavy Suspension Kit
  • Front Differential: Lokka Automatic differential Front Locker
  • Rear Differential: ARB Rear Air Locker

Armor

  • Front Bumper: Shrockworks Front Bumper
  • Rear Bumper: InSain Fabrications Rear Bumper
  • Rock Slider: Nissan Xterra rock sliders from White Knuckle Offroad

Recovery

  • Recovery Boards: ARB TRED Pro Recovery Boards
  • Winch: Warn VR-evo 10-S
  • Jack: X-Treme Hi-Lift jack 48”
  • Shovel: Gerber E-Tool Folding Shovel
  • Recovery Kit: ARB RK9 Premium Recovery Kit
  • Tire Deflator: Staun Tire Deflator
  • Tire Repair: ARB Speedy Seal tire repair kit

Lighting

  • Light Bar: 20″ Totron LED Light Bar
  • Rock Lights: MaxLux LED Rock Lights
  • Reverse Lights: Nissan Xterra LED Backup Reverse Lights by Precision LED
  • Camp Lights: Telescopic COB Rod LED Lantern
  • Interior Lights: Xtremevision Interior Led For Nissan Xterra (8 Pcs)

Electrical

  • Power: Rockman 200W Power Station
  • Solar: Rockman 120W Solar Panel
  • Battery: Optima Red Top 8020-164 Group Battery

Conclusion

The Nissan Xterra is a solid choice for those with an appetite for retro-flavored vehicles with an aggressive nature and squared-off styling. Nissan’s dealers are now contemplating with the company to bring back the Xterra just like what Ford and Land Rover did with their Bronco, and Defender respectively.

If that happens by any means, we are certain that the Xterra will take a big bite out of the 4-wheeled market. But for now, let’s get appreciate its 15 year run in the U.S. and hope for a comeback. To anyone looking for an affordable, long-lasting overland vehicle, the Xterra is sure worthy of your attention!

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