2006 Xterra New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Xterra is a no-frills SUV, a purposeful-looking, purpose-built off-roader promising youthful adventure at a reasonable price. Totally redesigned last year, this latest Xterra is safer, more powerful, more sophisticated, and more off-road capable than ever before. It rides better on paved roads, too.
Xterra remains true to the original concept as the rugged outdoors type with everything you need, nothing you don't. Don't look for leather on the options list. Yet this latest-generation Xterra is a much better, much more substantial and much more sophisticated than the pre-2005 models. This starts with the basic structure: This latest Xterra is built on the same platform as Nissan's full-size Titan pickup and Armada SUV, which use a very well-engineered, fully boxed ladder frame. Sophisticated electronics helps maintain traction and stability over all kinds of uncertain terrain. Power comes via a 4.0-liter version of Nissan's acclaimed VQ V6 used on the 350Z.
While there are no significant changes for 2006, a new base model has been added that drops the price of entry by nearly a grand to $19,950.
The 2006 Nissan Xterra is available in four trim levels, X, S, Off-Road, and SE, each offered with 2WD or 4WD. All are powered by the 4.0-liter V6. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual; a five-speed automatic is optional on most models but standard on the SE.
New for '06 is the entry-level Xterra X ($19,950), a basic model with wind-up windows. An optional Power Package ($1,100) includes power door locks, mirrors and windows; remote keyless entry; cruise control and a vehicle security system with an immobilizer. The Xterra X is available with an automatic ($20,750). The 4WD Xterra X comes with the manual ($21,950) or automatic ($24,950).
Xterra S 2WD ($22,150) and 4WD ($24,150) have move up from entry-level to mid-grade trim for 2006. They come standard with the Power Package, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, tilt steering, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, Nissan's Utili-Track cargo system, a tubular roof rack, rear bumper steps, and 265/70R16 B.F. Goodrich Long Trail tires on aluminum wheels. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, the five-speed automatic optional ($800). Options include a Utility Package ($550) that includes sturdy step rails, a cargo net, a flat-folding passenger seat for carrying long cargo, a first-aid kid to fit Xterra's signature tailgate bulge.
Xterra Off-Road 2WD ($23,750) and 4WD ($26,050) come standard with the Utility Package and add an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, skid plates, fog lamps, 16-inch alloy off-road wheels and taller 265/75R16 B.F. Goodrich Rugged Trail all-terrain tires. Off-Road capability is further enhanced by advanced electronics: Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), and Hill Start Assist, all of which reduce skidding and wheel spin and maintain stability through selective application of the anti-lock braking system. A distinctive black body side molding, unique blue seat fabric, and a cargo net further distinguish Off-Road models from garden-variety Xterras. The automatic is optional ($800).
SE 2WD ($25,650) and 4WD ($27,650) come with the Utility Package but skip the serious rock-climbing gear for a more luxurious image. Automatic transmission is standard, as is a 380-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system that adds a six-disc in-dash changer, eight speakers with subwoofer, steering wheel controls and MP3/CD capability. The system is satellite-ready, and has speed-sensitive volume control. Wheels and tires upgrade to 265/65R17.
The Rockford-Fosgate stereo is optional ($900) on Off-Road models. XM or Sirius satellite radio are optional ($350) on Off-Road and SE. A Tow Package ($440) is available on all models. Other options and accessories include splash guards ($110), a cargo organizer ($150), retractable cargo cover ($80), in-cabin microfilter ($60), and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass ($230).
Safety equipment for all Xterras includes an advanced air bag system, which consists of dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor. Also standard are three-point seat belts for all rear seat occupants (including the center-rear position) and a child seat anchor system. A Supplemental Airbag Package ($700) optional for all models includes side-impact air bags, a rollover sensor, and side curtain air bags.