2010 Nissan Xterra Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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The Nissan Xterra first debuted in 1999, when there were far fewer SUV nameplates in the marketplace.  For 2010, the count is higher, especially when one includes the crossover genre.  It is indeed admirable when a vehicle in such a competitive field remains an authentic and capable SUV, providing flexibility and versatility combined with genuine off-road capability, affordability and lots of room for stowing activity supporting gear.  Nissan's Xterra is such a vehicle. 

The Japanese vehicle manufacturer saw no need to completely revolutionize or reinvent the Xterra, only to enhance and improve it through an evolutionary process, making it progressively better.  This philosophy builds on the vehicle's original concept rather than completely modifying it.  The Xterra provides the best SUV off-road capability in Nissan's 4x4 utility lineup, which also includes the Pathfinder and Armada. 

Significant changes to the Xterra enhance the differentiation between the three available models – S, Off-Road and SE – making the selection process easier for consumers to pick the model that best suits their individual desires and requirements.  Making things even simpler, there is only two package options available, the $1,300 5-Speed Automatic Transmission Package solely for the S model, and the $1,450 Off Road Automatic Transmission Package only available on the Off-Road model, which includes a 3.357:1 final drive ratio, a transmission cooler, Hill Decent Control, Hill Start Assist, XM satellite radio (an oddity in a transmission package, but we like it), and the 5-speed automatic transmission, of course. 

In terms of appearance, the Xterra continues to display a rugged exterior design with a long wheelbase, short overhangs, integrated front bumper, aggressive fenders, functional roof rack with storage lid, and available side running boards. 

Still based on Nissan's F-Alpha truck platform, shared with full-size Titan pickup, the Xterra delivers more than adequate power, pleasing drivability and on-road dynamics, and rugged off-road performance.  Xterra's early mantra "Everything you need and nothing you don't," continues to hold true now more than ever. 

Power for the 2010 Xterra comes from an advanced 4.0-litre, DOHC V6 that generates 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque.  There are also still two transmission choices including a 6-speed manual or the aforementioned 5-speed electronically controlled automatic, plus an electronically locking rear differential. 

The Xterra remains an authentic 4x4 icon within the Nissan SUV stable, offering what the company refers to as "intelligent functionality."  Features such as a roof rack with a basket for soiled or soggy gear, "kicked" roof for added rear passenger headroom, and integrated rear bumper side steps continue to add to the Xterra's versatility. 

Steering is engine-speed-sensitive power rack and pinion. Brakes are power-assisted four wheel vented discs with electronic brake-force distribution and four-wheel ABS. 

When equipped, Off-Road capability is aided by Nissan's traction control technology with Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, four-wheel limited slip differential, electronic locking rear differential and dual throttle mapping during low range transfer case use. 

The interior provides stadium-style second row seating with 60/40 split flat-folding seats and removable seat bottom cushions -- a fold-flat front passenger seat is available.  There's a double-deck glove box and large center console, as well as an easy-to-clean rear cargo area with 10 tie-down hooks and Nissan's "Utili-Trak" channel system featuring two floor channels. 

Standard safety features include side-impact air bags, four-wheel ABS, electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor system, and vehicle dynamic control. 

My test Nissan Xterra was an S V6 model in a 4x4 drive configuration, finished outside in Navy Blue, with the interior executed in Graphite leather tones, highlighted by Satin Silver finished trim accents.  The base price of an Xterra S is set at $33,698 while a $1,300 5-Speed Automatic Transmission Package adds the transmission upgrade, of course, plus a 3.133:1 final drive ratio and transmission cooler.  The Off-Road version ups the ante to $36,198, while a fully loaded Off-Road version will, including $135 for metallic paint, set you back $39,283.  An SE goes out the door at $37,498, and no options other than metallic paint are available.  Dealer installed accessories are available on all trim levels.  All models are also subject to a $1,500 freight and pre-deliver inspection charge. 

The very first Xterra became an immediate hit, and that this latest version reflects Nissan's commitment to continued progressive product improvement is evidenced on virtually every level.  The Xterra gives the impression that it is much larger than it really is with its bold and aggressive persona. 

As in previous years, Xterra's long wheelbase ensures a smooth ride along with ample interior room, while the overall length remains highly manageable thanks to the short front overhang, enhancing maneuverability in off-road hill climbing and adventure trail scenarios. 

The 2010 Nissan Xterra is still an evolutionary work in progress, and that is very good news for those in the market for a "do everything" SUV.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Nissan, 2010, Xterra, $30,000 - $39,999,

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