2003 Nissan Xterra Reviews

2003 Xterra New Car Test Drive


Nissan Xterra is cool. It's cool to have a basket for your wetsuits on the roof rack. It's cool to have a mountain-bike rack inside the cargo bay. It's cool to be rugged. It's cool to be retro and a trendsetter at the same time. And it's especially cool to be supercharged. 

There's even more cool for 2003. The naturally aspirated (non-supercharged) V6 is stronger this year. Stronger is cooler. Electronic brake distribution (EBD) is now standard. Traction control, skid control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system are now available. Eye-catching new colors are available, including Atomic Orange and Camouflage. 

With its unusual blend of style and function, Xterra has been a huge success ever since Nissan launched this compact sport-utility in 2000. Xterra has prevailed beyond Nissan's expectations and hopes. It's still cool. 


Nissan Xterra comes in two trim levels: XE and SE. Three engines are available: a four-cylinder, a V6, and a supercharged V6. For V6 models, there's a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. 

The base 4x2 XE ($17,999) comes with a 2.4-liter, double-overhead-cam inline-4 rated 143 horsepower and 154 pounds-feet of torque. Four-wheel drive is not available with the four-cylinder engine, nor is an automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes a tubular roof rack with removable gear basket, air conditioning, a 100-watt audio system with a CD player, anti-lock brakes and a full-size spare tire. 

XE V6 ($20,399) comes with a 3.3-liter, single overhead-cam V6 that now produces 180 horsepower (10 more than last year) and 202 pounds-feet of torque. For 2003, XE V6 also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, tubular step rails, and a driver's seat that adjusts for height and lumbar support. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the V6 XE. A four-speed automatic is optional ($1000). 

SE ($24,699) comes standard with the V6 engine, four-speed automatic, and a limited-slip rear differential. Also included are upgraded seats; fog lamps; cruise control; first aid kit; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; power windows, locks and mirrors; variable intermittent wipers; tilt steering wheel; remote keyless entry and, coolest of all, a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate eight-speaker audio system with subwoofer and in-dash 6-CD changer. 

A supercharged V6 engine that produces 210 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque is available with SE trim only. Supercharged SE ($25,999) includes unique charcoal cloth upholstery and 17-inch wheels and tires. 

Four-wheel drive ($2000) is available for XE V6 and SE. XE 4x4 buyers can add a limited-slip rear differential as part of a Sport Package ($399 ) that includes front tow hooks and fog lights. A new Rugged Leather Package ($999) for SE models includes leather seats and suede-like fabric inserts for the inner doors. A pop-up sunroof with sunshade ($349) is available on SE models. New for 2003 is the Dynamic Control Package ($549), which includes traction and skid control functions, plus a tire-pressure monitoring system. The Rockford-Fosgate stereo can be added to XE V6 ($799). 

Side-curtain air bags are optional on the SE ($499) and XE and we recommend them highly as they can protect your skull in a side impact or rollover. Skull protection is cool. 

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