This week I revisited the Nissan Xterra that I tested two years ago when it had just hit the market. Well back then the 3.3 liter V6 was a 170 hp engine and to make things worse I tested it in mile high Denver, Colorado and 8,000 foot Evergreen. My racing buddy Price Cobb joined me on a jaunt to the high plains of Nebraska. He made the observation that I passed on to Nissan for their consideration. “Why didn’t they put the Maxima engine in the Xterra so it wouldn’t be such a dog”? Price didn’t say dog… that was my interpretation.
Well, perhaps they listened because this version comes with a turbocharger that generates 210 horsepower out of the same 3.3 liters, which makes a world of difference. Granted, I didn’t drive this years model at 5-8,000 feet, but the extra 40 horses eliminates the sluggish performance.
I can’t imagine any class vehicle that has been so popular over the years. We Americans are a rugged people descended from pioneers who carved a life out of a very hostile country only a hundred years ago. It’s in our genes to be on the move and to get off the beaten path on occasion. The SUV satisfies our wanderlust nature.
Handling & Performance:
Generally consistent with other SUV’s in its class. I, like most of the car buying public, enjoy driving a 4X4 partly because it gives the impression of “Go anywhere, do anything” kind of driving ability and fun. On a recent Elk hunting trip I tested the Jeep Liberty and was very impressed. These two, in fact all the competition listed here are very similar in statistics. All others do better in gas mileage and power when Xterra is not turbocharged. Although it sits higher than all others, it has the best ground clearance and I didn’t feel it was more top heavy.
They all look great and it’s easy to see why so many people buy them. Xterra sits higher than others and has more ground clearance and has that more rugged “Outback” look. I like its unique styling.
Fit and Finish:
Better than the roll out version because it has sales appeal and thus the newer models get more attention to detail.
There are a lot of gadgets and goodies on the one I tested and the price acknowledges them with a hefty price tag of nearly $29,000.
More pricey than when it was introduced and that is the case with the Jeep Liberty new for 2002.
Look at all the competition. There isn’t a lot in the class and my guess is you’ll be as impressed with the new kid on the block – Jeep Liberty. It’s priced the best right now and I’d snap one up before any price increases sure to happen just like this popular Xterra in just two short years.
Ford Escape $18-24,000, Isuzu Rodeo $18-32,000, Jeep Liberty $16-23,000, Land Rover Freelander $25-32,000, Mazda Tribute $18-24,000.
Much improved power with turbo, better finish work, unique styling.
More pricey than original offering, poorer mileage and smaller interior space than competition.
3.3 liter supercharged V6 210 horsepower engine, auto trans, power 4-wheel ABS front disc and rear drum braking system, 2 speed 4X4 transfer case, engine and fuel tank skid plates, power steering, double wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bars front and rear, 5,000 lb towing capacity, 19.4 gal fuel tank, tubular roof rack with gear basket, 17” wheels, fog lights, tow hook, radio with in-dash 6 CD player, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, first aid kit, power windows, door locks and mirrors, auxiliary 12 volt outlets, tie-down hooks, cruise control, center console, rear defrost and wiper, dual air bags, security system, remote keyless entry, child safety locks.
15 City and 18 Highway MPG.
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