Nissan's blunt instrument

The Nissan Xterra hasn't changed much since its last major revision in 2006. However, our 2010 Xterra S was loaded with tech that's well over a decade old.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


Let's get the hard part out of the way first. The Nissan's interior is a dated mess of hard plastics and low tech.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


The only audio option is a single-disc AM/FM/CD player that doesn't support MP3 in any fashion. That means no MP3-encoded discs, no USB, no Bluetooth or audio streaming, and no auxiliary input.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Steering wheel

The steering wheel has basic buttons cruise control, but no audio controls.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Instrument cluster

Simple as it may be, the Xterra's instrument cluster was surprisingly handsome and easy to read. A monochrome LCD displayed trip computer information and drive select status.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Rugged exterior

Low tech interior aside, the Xterra does have a sort of ruggedly simple charm. Like a hammer, the Xterra is functional, not ornamented.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

4.0-liter V-6

Under the Xterra's hood lives a the large displacement V-6 engine that outputs enough power to claim superiority over the Toyota 4Runner and FJ Cruiser and downright outclasses the Ford Explorer's 4.0-liter.
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5-speed automatic

Despite its high power ratings, the Xterra was hesitant to accelerate quickly. This is mostly due to the equipped 5-speed automatic transmissions unwillingness to downshift when demanded. Really prod the accelerator pedal, however, and the V-6 will eventually spring to life.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


The Xterra's high suspension and body-on-frame construction resulted in a harsh bumpy ride over uneven highways. However, at lower speeds, the off-roader soaked up larger bumps with little drama.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Drive selector

As a 4x4 model, our Xterra was able to move between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations at the touch of a dial. A third 4WD LO setting featured extra-low gearing that allowed the Xterra to take advantage of its high torque at a significantly reduced speed, perfect for rock crawling and slippery situations.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


Where the Xterra really excels is its packaging. The boxy shape affords the SUV plenty of rear stowage space.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Rear storage

The rear storage area features a wipe-clean floor and integrated rails for adding bike racks and other specialty equipment.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Rear bumper step

The rear bumper features an integrated step that eases access to the standard roof rack.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Step up

Our Xterra was also equipped with side steps, which eased entrance and egress into the tall truck and assisted in roof rack access.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Roof storage

At the front of the roof rack is this neat little lockable storage area that features a plastic mesh bottom, perfect for stowing damp wetsuits or ski jackets.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET
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