2001 Xterra New Car Test Drive
Nissan's Xterra was a huge success when it was launched last year. It's not so much the engineering, but rather the style and the function-or maybe it's the marketing of that function.
Regardless, the Xterra is cool. It's cool to have a basket for your wetsuits on the roof rack, or an interior mountain bike rack; and it's cool to point out to people that you have these things. Xterra is retro at the same time it's a trendsetter: Its foundation is ruggedness, the foundation for the original SUV. This isn't a sedan in SUV cladding.
The Xterra concept has prevailed beyond Nissan's expectations and hopes; heck, it's still just catching on. About the only thing on the Xterra that's changed since its introduction last year is its prices, which has increased by $450 to $650 on some models.
Two Xterra models, XE and SE, are available.
The base 4x2 XE ($17,999) comes with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. Four-cylinder models are only available with two-wheel drive. Nissan's 2.4-liter double overhead-cam four-cylinder engine is rated at 143-horsepower.
XE V6 models come with a 3.3-liter single overhead-cam V6 that produces 170 horsepower. A five-speed manual is standard, and a four-speed automatic is available ($1,000). Three option packages are available: Utility ($699), Power ($1299) and Sport $849).
SE models come standard with the V6 and the equipment included in the XE's option packages. 2001 SE models also come standard with 16-inch (instead of 15-inch) alloy wheels and P255/65R16 all-season radials.
With the base Xterra XE, don't expect much of what Nissan is so actively marketing-those outdoorsy options. While the ruggedness is inherent in the Xterra, all the really neat stuff is in the packages, and in extra-cost accessories beyond the packages: neoprene seat covers, interior two-bike rack, and a tow hitch. You might even have to go to work instead of skiing, to pay for the Xterra you really want, to take you skiing.