2006 Nissan Xterra
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The midsize Nissan Xterra is a tough guy SUV, with a rugged design and solid off-road abilities. It leaves the more comfortable car-based SUVs for "softies."
Introduced in 1999, the Xterra got more power, room and utility for 2005. It strongly resembled the original Xterra, but received bolder styling and a longer wheelbase for a better ride and more occupant space. The Xterra also received a stronger, more modern frame, which got rid of the earlier version's shakes and rattles.
Always a good seller, the changes helped Xterra sales in 2005—not a very good year for rugged SUVs—to rise to 72,447 units from 66,690 in the previous year.
Uncompromising Game Plan
Extreme active lifestyle people single out the Xterra because it's sort of a sports locker on wheels, with such items as cubbies, nets and a roof-mounted storage compartment for wet, dirty clothes. Rear side bumper steps allow easier access to that compartment.
There also are such outdoor-oriented features as 10 cargo area utility hooks and an adjustable channel system in the cargo floor that makes it easier to secure bike racks and other accessories or gear.
Large Cargo Area
The Xterra has a decent amount of standard equipment, despite its go-anywhere nature. Even the base trim level has air conditioning, a tilt wheel, an AM/FM/CD player, a rear wiper and a full-size spare tire. There's also anti-lock brakes and an anti-skid system.
Higher-line trim levels add such items as a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an upscale audio system and tubular side steps (spell running boards).
Options include $700 side-curtain airbags, $350 satellite radio and a $440 tow kit.
Forget frills such as leather upholstery or a sunroof because Nissan feels that such items would be out of place for the Xterra.
Rear or 4-wheel drive with low-range gearing are offered.
The V6 works with a 6-speed manual gearbox or crisp-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission.
High fuel economy can't be expected with a powerful SUV that weighs 4,150 to 4,402 pounds. The Xterra thus delivers only an estimated 16-17 mpg in the city and 21-22 on the highway, with manual transmission rear-wheel-drive models getting the slightly better numbers.
New Affordable Trim Level
Other trim levels are the S, Off-Road (with a tougher suspension and mud-loving tires) and the top-line SE.
List prices stop at $27,750 for the 4-wheel-drive SE with an automatic transmission. (No SE comes with a manual gearbox.) The lowest-priced S is $22,250 with a manual transmission and the lowest-cost Off Road is $23,850 with the manual.
New Standard Power Package
Other changes for 2006 include a standard glove box lock and light and available satellite radio.
It requires extra effort to climb in the tall Xterra, and the side steps are too narrow to be helpful to those with large shoe sizes, especially when slippery. Narrow rear door openings also hamper entry—and exit.
Front cupholders are placed for no-spill use, the console has a roomy storage bin and front doors have pockets with bottle holders.
The Xterra is an honest vehicle because it doesn't pretend to be something it's not. That's comforting when its driver confronts challenging conditions.