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z28luvr01

C&G Member Review: 2005 Nissan Xterra

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Review: 2005 Nissan Xterra
A Competent, Capable SUV…Just Keep the Dramamine Handy
by z28luvr01

Last week I had the chance to sample a 2005 Nissan Xterra during a five-day vacation to San Diego. I had initially reserved an economy car and seemed destined for a Hyundai Accent, but the Hertz counter at the San Diego airport ran out of economy cars and gave me, presumably, the next smallest vehicle they had available. In any case, I logged several hundred miles on the Xterra, driving between San Marcos (my hotel location), La Jolla, and the major San Diego attractions, and I take this opportunity to report my impressions of Nissan’s smallest SUV.

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Exterior
The Xterra sports Nissan’s new design language for its trucks and SUVs. It’s not too much of a stretch to see that it’s the kid brother of the Armada, Pathfinder, Titan, and Frontier. It’s bigger in just about every way over the previous Xterra. Bold, albeit polarizing, styling seems to be what Nissan is going after, and they seemed to have accomplished that goal. Being a fan of smooth, sleek bodystyles, I had initially been horrified to drive something that resembled a life-sized Trans-former. However, it did grow on me a bit after a day or two, and the fact that I actually got a few compliments from fellow tourists who mistook it for my personal vehicle shows that there is a place on the road for a truck that looks like this.

Interior
The Xterra’s inside is downright cavernous for a “small” SUV, with plenty of room for five passengers and cargo. The interior attempts to carry on the tradition of the original Xterra, providing maximum functionality, ruggedness, and durability. The cargo floor is made of a very hard plastic that will resist some abuse while cleaning easily, and it features a pull-out panel that can be used as a shelf or a table. 12V outlets are plentiful, with two on the dashboard, one in the center console, and two more in the rear cargo area. The floor mats are made of a low-pile, welcome-mat style carpet that will wear very well as the truck ages.

The interior layout is pretty functional and ergonomic, with the exception of the dash-mounted power mirror switch, located to the left of the steering wheel. It would have been more intuitive to put it on the driver’s side door panel, but unless you’re sharing the Xterra with someone much taller or much shorter than you are, that switch will probably not see much use. Switchgear has an excellent feel to it, and the interior panels fit together pretty nicely, unlike some other recent Nissan products I’ve sampled. The seats, however, could stand to be a little more comfortable. Although the driver’s seat had several adjustments for leg, back, and lumbar support, I never could find a combination that felt “right”. Also, the seats were rather stiff, requiring you to sit "on" them rahter than "in" them. As a result, hour-long drives left me more tired than I probably should have been.

Comfort/Convenience
In fleet-grade trim, the Xterra did come pretty well equipped, featuring power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, a decent sounding AM/FM/CD stereo, map lights, comprehensive instrument cluster with tach, oil pressure, voltage and temperature gauges, intermittent wipers with rear wiper, and remote keyless entry. I really missed having little things like the momentary starter switch, retained accessory power, and automatic headlights, but none of those should be deal breakers.

Drivetrain
This Xterra was powered by a new 4.0L version of the Nissan VQ V6, and it’s the same engine found in the Pathfinder and Frontier. Lesser Xterras come with a four-cylinder. The VQ has long been my favorite Japanese engine, and the 4.0L specimen in the Xterra did little to alter my opinion. The engine provided plenty of power throughout the trip. Climbing up steady mountain grades on I-15 and CA-163, it never once felt tired or overmatched. The five speed auto seemed well matched to the engine, giving smooth, confident shifts. It always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. The truck felt most powerful when the engine was above 4000rpm, which is right where I was after downshifting to pass a slow moving driver. In most cases the downshift was followed by jet-like acceleration.

Handling
If there’s one area where the Xterra really falls flat, it’s in the handling department. The combination of a rather stiff suspension and top-heaviness made for a very bouncy ride. Even on smooth pavement, the Xterra still produced a side to side wavering motion that sometimes put me on the verge of seasickness. Turning most corners at any kind of speed was an adventure, as the Xterra’s top-heaviness helped produce the excessive body lean. Steering seemed okay, but I cannot offer much of an opinion on it because most turns required me to slow down well in advance.

Concluding Thoughts
My suggestion: drive the Xterra and sample it for a while before you buy it. Make sure you can find a comfortable position in the driver’s seat, because the truck will wear you down if you can’t. Take the truck on a few curves and take note of how it responds to your driving style. The Xterra, by most counts, is a fine truck, and a pretty solid choice for any prospective SUV buyer. If you can deal with the nuances that I mentioned, you’ll find the Xterra to be an appealing, capable, competent SUV.
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Nice review... just came across it today. It should be moved to the new C&G Drives section.
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do you have to be a mod/admin to contribute? cuz i had an excellent write-up on my canyon a few months back
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do you have to be a mod/admin to contribute? cuz i had an excellent write-up on my canyon a few months back

[post="102202"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Absolutely not. This is for everyone who wants to contribute to do so about any car. If you want to do a long-term of your Canyon, that would be very awesome, especially with an update every month or so on new problems, observed MPG, service costs (if any), etc.
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Absolutely not. This is for everyone who wants to contribute to do so about any car. If you want to do a long-term of your Canyon, that would be very awesome, especially with an update every month or so on new problems, observed MPG, service costs (if any), etc.

[post="102206"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Fantastic. I will pull up the old article tomorrow and throw in some updates.
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