Xterra was introduced to the SUV market by Nissan in 2000 with the quirky slogan that it had “everything you needed and nothing you didn’t” for rugged outdoor excitement when you wanted it and solid around town performance the rest of the time.
We were fortunate to do a ride and drive in Xterra that first year (I recall that it was bright yellow and instantly attracted attention wherever we went). The ride was impressive and we were certain that it was going to be a winner in the market.
Xterra was a winner, and still is in 2012 because it has remained true to its original premise to offer a rugged outdoor and off road performance drive experience with essential functionality that also drives solidly around town. And, all at an affordable price point.
For 2012, Xterra maintains its “spare” yet ruggedly functional styling that has changed only slightly over the years. When you see an Xterra on or off the road, you recognize it immediately. The unique rear door handles, raised rear roof to accommodate second row stadium seating and the telltale “hump” in the rear lift gate for the first aid kit quickly shout out to you – “Xterra”.
Sadly, the yellow is gone, but for 2012, Nissan has added two new colors of Metallic Blue and Brilliant Silver.
For 2012, Nissan offers Xterra in three well-equipped models – X (starting at $24,890), S ($26,880), and PRO-4X ($30,170). All 2012 Xterras feature an advanced 4.0-liter DOHC V6 engine, rated at 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, along with a rugged “F-Alpha” truck platform that Xterra has shared with the full-size Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV since 2005.
The Xterra is available with a choice of 6-speed manual (S 4×4 and PRO-4X 4×4 only) or 5-speed automatic transmissions, and in a choice of part-time 4-wheel drive or 2-wheel drive.
Xterra’s distinct Spartan interior provides an abundance of useable space, storage and convenience features – including an available Easy Clean cargo area, Utili-Track® cargo carrying system, tie-down channel system, 10 cargo hooks, pockets and flexible seating including a fold down passenger front seat to add cargo length as well as provide a level work surface.
Though ruggedly spare in appearance, the 2012 Xterra PRO-4X also offers a range of advanced technologies, including Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, XM® Satellite Radio and an 8-speaker 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with an in-dash 6 CD changer and subwoofer. Maintaining the “Spartan” theme, there is no navigation system or touch screen available in the Exterra.
The exterior design includes large flared fenders, a powerful-looking hood and headlights, Nissan SUV-style angled strut grille, a versatile roof rack, and a rear bumper with side steps for easy access to the roof rack. Roof-mounted off-road lights, built into the roof rack air dam with lid, are standard on PRO-4X models.
The long wheelbase help provide a smooth ride and ample interior room, yet overall length is highly manageable due to the short front overhang – helping to enhance maneuverability in off-road hill climbing and trail situations. The off road ride is to the rough side, but stable and firm going exactly where you want it to go every time.
Xterra’s interior is spacious enough for up to five adults and their gear. A standard 60/40-split folding stadium-style rear seat with removable seat bottom cushions create added utility for hauling recreational gear.
We tested a 2012 Xterra PRO-4X in Metallic Blue with the Gray/Steel cloth interior this past week. It did not disappoint us. Though the target market for the Xterra is much younger than I am, I can tell you it is quick, nimble, firm and fun. I never hesitated to go where I wanted to go this week in the Xterra PRO-4X including fence line running in the Hill Country. .
This PRO-4X came very well equipped at $30,720 with the electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. The 4×4 model includes a part-time 4WD system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes and electronically controlled transfer case. With added options of an iPod interface (conveniently in the glove box) for $260 and the PRO-4X logo floor mats for $120. Including freight, our Xterra PRO-4X priced out at $31,910.
The only option not included was the Leather Package of leather appointed seats and trim for $1000.
Our PRO-4X included the very functional Roof-Mounted Off-Road Lights in the air dam (there is closed storage in the air dam), fog lights, silver headlight inner color, black bodyside molding, the fold-down front passenger seat with backboard, unique gray/red cloth seat fabric, sunglasses holder (overhead console), PRO-4X badge on tailgate and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Unique PRO-4X performance equipment includes P265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A off-road tires, rugged 16-inch wheels, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, electronic locking rear differential, high performance Bilstein® gas-filled shocks and oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case skid plates.
Xterra’s list of safety features and equipment includes Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and occupant classification sensor), driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags and 3-point front/rear seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and adjustable upper anchors.
All Xterras come with standard roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags with rollover sensor for improved front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates for the Xterra PRO-4X with automatic transmission are 15 mpg City and 20 mpg Highway.
The 2012 Nissan Xterra again, offered in three models – X, S and PRO-4X, making it easy for buyers to determine the exact Xterra model for their particular needs and lifestyles. The PRO-4X model is available in 4-wheel drive only, while the X and S are offered in both 2WD and 4WD configurations. Xterra X models come with a 5-speed automatic transmission only, with S and Pro-4X models offering a choice of 6-speed manual transmission or 5-speed automatic.
The entry-level Xterra X grade 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-down 2nd row seat and Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS).
Standard features for Xterra S include 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with BFGoodrich Long Trail tires, driver’s seat lumbar support, step rails, Easy Clean Cargo Surface and C-Channel cargo floor with four moveable hooks and front tow hook (4×4). Other standard Xterra S equipment includes the gear basket (4×4 only) and first aid kit.
Jim Nelson is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association