| The Nissan
Xterra has been on the market since 2000 and has received varying
acceptance in the off-road world. Based on the Frontier pickup,
the Xterra is a mid-sized SUV aimed specifically at those with
an "active" lifestyle. Purposely stripped of many
of today's common amenities, such as power seats or leather
upholstry, and other whiz-bang electronic goodies, the Xterra
is intended to be a no-frills vehicle packed with fun instead
of extras (or should we say Xtras).
the Xterra receives a totally new front end, interior and
"power bulge" on the hood to accommodate a supercharger.
Prior to the 2002 model, the Xterra was offered in a 2.4 liter
4-cylinder or a 3.3 liter 6-cylinder. From its introduction,
even the 6-cylinder was considered by many anemic and underpowered.
New for this year, Nissan introduced the supercharged 3.3
liter SOHC V6. We were very eager to get our hands on one
of these models and early this year, Nissan got us one for
Blue" Xterra was the SE-SC 4x4 model with a sticker price
of $28,467.00. For those not familiar with Nissans, the base
trim level is the XE, whereas the SE is the higher level.
In our case, the SE added such things as 17-inch alloy wheels
with P265/65R17 tires, body-side molding, fog lights, a front
tow hook, tubular step rails, unique cloth seat fabric with
door fabric inserts, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
adds a whopping 40 horsepower over the normally-aspirated
V6 at 4,800 RPM and 46 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 RPM. Upon
receiving the keys, the first thing we did, of course, was
hit the road with our foot to the floor.
the whine of the Eaton supercharger was exciting, and perhaps,
more exciting than the actual performance itself. The power
is immediately available, unlike a turbo-charged motor, but
in all honesty, after driving the Xterra for a week, we felt
the supercharger really brought the power to weight ratio
right around where it should be in the first place. The Xterra
was no speed demon by any shot, nor was it underpowered. It
seemed just about right. Having not driven the regular V6
or the 2.4L, we wondered how they would do in the hills -
especially with the air conditioning on full and 4 people
the most obvious comparisons to the Xterra is the Jeep Liberty,
both in size and market. The Liberty's V6 puts out 210hp at
5,200 RPM and 235 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. The power
of the Xterra had a very similar feel to the Liberty, even
though the Jeep has a lower torque-band and no supercharger.
It makes us wonder why Nissan doesn't use the 240hp 3.5-liter
DOHC V6 found in the Pathfinder or the new Altima. If we were
to buy an Xterra, we would certainly want the supercharged
model, despite the fact that it requires premium fuel and
has the potential for more maintenance down the road.
very important thing to remember about the Xterra, is that
Nissan isn't looking to sell it as a hopped-up SUV. The Pathfinder
and its Infiniti QX4 counterpart address that market.
we tested Xterra in focus groups, we were told that it was
definitely not a 'grocery getter,' like some of the smaller
SUVs currently on the marketplace," said Bill Kirrane,
vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan
North America, Inc. "In fact, it's got a cult off-road
following that was previously only seen among Jeep owners.
We're feeding that cult with a new Enthusiast Package - a
2002 Xterra that provides the perfect foundation for a hard
core off-road enthusiast to make the vehicle of their dreams."
did not come with the Enthusiast Package, which includes manual
locking hubs and a limited slip rear end. However, ours was
still a 4x4 model, and as such, we intended to go flog it
and see if it really was worthy of the "hard core
off-road enthusiast," as Kirrane put it.
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Nissan Xterra SE-SC 4x4
is a very capable off-roader. Is it a truck? What defines
a truck these days?
is more than just a looker.
performance of the Xterra was very good for a SUV.
has lots of ground clearance for a stock vehicle - even
with the side steps.
got an all new front end for 2002.
3.3L was a very good match for the Xterra.