2000 Xterra New Car Test Drive
It's ironic how things sometimes come full circle. For the last few years, the direction of SUV design has been toward car-like comfort and handling. But now, Nissan boasts that the main virtue of the new Xterra is that it travels back to SUV roots. Meaning, it's more truck-like. The marketing euphemism is 'rugged.' Considering the target market, rugged is good.
But reasonably priced is better. Intended buyers include kayakers, skiers, mountain bikers, climbers and windsurfers, people who have been known to place the spiritual value of outdoor recreation over the material rewards of career. Scheduling your career around, say, fresh powder isn't the quickest way to financial wealth so car payments need to be kept in check.
There are two Xterra models, XE and SE, and three option packages: Sport, Power and Utility.
The base $17,349 4x2 XE comes with the 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. You can't get four-wheel drive with the four-banger. The optional 3.3-liter V6 raises the XE to $18,499, or $20,499 for the 4x4 XE.
The $22,549 two-wheel-drive SE comes standard with the V6. The 4x4 SE lists for $24,549. A four-speed automatic adds $1,000.
The base XE offers ruggedness, but not much else. All the really neat stuff is in the option packages and accessories: By adding packages you could create an XE virtually the same as an SE. But this quickly raises the price. A $999 XE Utility Package is needed for the roof rack, tubular step rails, first-aid kit, big tires, rear wipers and other goodies. Alloy wheels are $599. The SE comes with this stuff, but accessories such as the slick two-bike rack, the neoprene seat covers and tow hitch cost extra.