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2009 Nissan Xterra

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


2009 Nissan Xterra

Xterra wears the same skin.

Photo © Nissan Motors USA

The Bottom Line

The Nissan Xterra has aged well, looking like a classic deep into its second generation on the scene. Genuine off-road chops combined with very polite on-road manners make for a vehicle that just might be able to do it all. Xterra competes with: Jeep Wrangler; Toyota FJ Cruiser; HUMMER H3.
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  • Genuine off-road chops.
  • Heavy-duty interior.
  • Assertive styling.


  • So-so fuel economy.
  • Starting to load up with options.
  • Noisy engine.


  • Base prices from $22,310 to $28,340
  • Engine: 4.0 liter DOHC V6
  • Horsepower: 261 @ 5,600 rpm
  • Torque: 281 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
  • Curb Weight: 4,150 (X MT 4x2) – 4,402 (SE AT 4x4)
  • Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway (AT); 16/20 (MT)
  • Wheelbase: 106.3” Vehicle Length: 178.7” Width: 72.8” Height: 74.9” Ground Clearance: 9.1”
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles basic; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
  • Cargo: 65.7 cubic feet Luggage: 35.2 cubic feet
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual (X, S, Off-Road only)

Guide Review - 2009 Nissan Xterra

The Nissan Xterra returns to the playing field essentially unchanged since I last reviewed it in 2006 – and that’s a good thing. I gave the Xterra three and a half stars last time out, and the same goes this year. Available in 4 trim levels ranging from X ($22,310) to SE ($27,340). X, S and SE are available in rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and Off-Road is only available as a 4x4. I drove the Off-Road V6 4X4 AT model with a base price of $29,340 ($30,235 as tested).

For a vehicle with “Off-Road” as its trim level, my test vehicle was really quite well-behaved on the pavement. You won’t forget that you’re driving a truck with a fully-boxed frame, that’s for sure, but if you bought an Xterra for its utility, you’ll be glad of it.

Styling-wise, Xterra hasn’t changed much since 2005. I have grown to really like the muscular, assertive styling, even more than I did back in 2006. It still looks bold, but now it looks familiar and like a style leader. Time has been very kind to Xterra.

If you really use your SUV everyday, and some days are on road and some days are off, Xterra walks the fine line of compromise very effectively. There are enough comfort options available (maybe too many), and there are still enough cojones to satisfy demanding off-roaders. It doesn’t have the pure off-road prowess of a Jeep Wrangler, but it doesn’t have the twitchy on-road behavior, and its 65.7 cubic foot cargo area kicks Wrangler’s butt when it comes time to haul the gear.

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