2007 Xterra New Car Test Drive
In a market crowded with high-posture poseurs, the Nissan Xterra is the genuine article: a real, Safari-grade adventure vehicle that still handles everyday life on pavement with refinement and aplomb.
Like the Nissan Pathfinder, the Xterra grew up a few years ago, abandoning its compact-SUV past to join the ranks of mid-size, family-friendly sport utilities. Both models now share Nissan's F-Alpha platform, which underpins the full-size Titan pickup and Armada SUV. As a result, Pathfinder and Xterra are both exceptionally capable off-road vehicles. The defining differences between the two mid-size models are the Pathfinder's longer wheelbase (by six inches), its resulting seven-seat capacity, and proportionately higher price (by more than $5500).
But beyond that, Pathfinder and Xterra are separated by attitude: The luxurious Pathfinder seems more suburban and settled, while the bare-bones Xterra almost demands youthful, outdoor adventure of the kind that Generation-Y so loves to misspell 'Xtreme.' Xterra continues to offer a manual transmission; that's increasingly rare in SUVs, and that alone may sway the buying decisions of some enthusiast drivers. And don't look for leather, even on the options list. Nissan has kept the Xterra true to its original concept as the rugged outdoors type with everything you need, and nothing you don't.
Yet, like Pathfinder, Xterra is substantial, sophisticated, and refined. From the Titan and Armada it has inherited a well-engineered, fully boxed ladder frame. Sophisticated electronics help 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 in the 350Z.
Changes for 2007 are minor, and consist entirely of shuffling content at the various trim levels. The Rockford Fosgate Audio Package for the Xterra SE now includes an auxiliary input jack.
The 2007 Nissan Xterra is available in four trim levels: X, S, Off-Road, and SE. Four-wheel drive (4WD) is standard on Off-Road, optional ($2,050) on the others. All models are powered by the 4.0-liter V6. Six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions are available.
Xterra X ($20,050) comes with air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, engine-speed-sensitive power steering, 60/40 split fold-flat second-row seats, and a C-channel cargo floor with four moveable hooks and an Easy Clean surface. Still, it's definitely a base model, with a six-speed manual transmission, roll-up windows, manual windows and door locks, and 16-inch steel wheels. An optional Power Package ($1,150) adds power door locks, mirrors and windows; remote keyless entry; cruise control; sunvisor mirrors and extenders; and a vehicle security system with an immobilizer.
Xterra S ($22,300) comes with all of the above (including the contents of the Power Package), and adds driver's seat lumbar support, remote hatch opener, roof rack cross bars and aluminum-alloy wheels. An exclusive option for the S-model is the Utility Package ($650), which includes sturdy step rails, a cargo net, a flat-folding passenger seat for carrying long cargo, a map pocket in the back of the driver's seat, and a first-aid kit that fits inside the Xterra's signature tailgate bulge.
Xterra Off-Road ($26,200), available in 4WD only for 2007, adds exclusive off-road features such as electronic Hill Descent Control and Hill Assist; a locking rear differential; gas-pressurized Bilstein shock absorbers; skid plates; and 265/75R16 B.F. Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires. The Utility Package comes standard except for the step rails, which could impede Xtreme rock-climbing. Off-Road models come with unique blue or graphite seat fabric and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Xterra SE ($25,900) comes with the Utility Package but skips the serious rock-climbing gear for a more luxurious ambiance. The SE comes with a 380-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system that adds a six-disc in-dash changer, eight speakers plus subwoofer, steering wheel controls, MP3/CD capability and an auxiliary jack for an iPod or similar device. The system is satellite-ready, and has speed-sensitive volume control. Automatic transmission is standard. The SE comes with foglights and 265/65R17 tires on 17-inch wheels.
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 ($450) is available on all but X, as are a cargo organizer ($150), retractable cargo cover ($80), in-cabin microfilter ($60), and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass ($240).
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. Active safety features that come standard: Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).