expect Nissan's revamped Xterra sport utility
to stay clean and neat, or to gather cobwebs in
its owner's driveway. Rather, check for it climbing
over hill and dale, caked in mud, with a washdown
from a borrowed hose when day is done.
every Xterra is meant to live full-time in the
wild, of course, despite its squared-off, aggressive
appearance and high ground clearance. One pays
for the privilege of having added fortitude from
such things as advanced off-road traction and
backwoods-rugged styling touches. So for 2006,
a year after its total redesign, Nissan wisely
added a new entry-level "X" for the
budget-minded adventurous. X brings model numbers
to four, along with S, Off-Road and SE trim levels.
All models now come with a lighted, lockable glovebox,
and Midnight Blue joins available exterior colors.
every Xterra is a true truck frame based on Nissan's
redesigned Frontier small pickup, with improved
ride, handling and safety features. Gutsy power,
measured by pre-SAE standards, comes from a 265-horsepower,
4.0-liter V6, paired with automatic or manual
shift, and two- or part-time four-wheel drive
with low gearing. Although not a lightweight,
Xterra is Nissan's smaller SUV, with room for
four with gear, or for five. Extra items can fit
atop the heavy-duty roof rails or in the latchable
over-front-seat rail box, a typically-Nissan quirky
add. (Remember seeing the rear gate first aid
kit for the first time?) Floor channels keep mountain
bikes in interior tow.
its "nothing you don't need" philosophy,
premium sound with MP3 and XM or Sirius satellite
radio compatibility aren't among rejects. Want
them? You've got 'em. Prices range from about
$20K to more than $27K, for a range of buyers
in age and income. If we accepted Nissan's statement
Xterra is a "segment of one" among 70
competitors, we'd have nothing to compare it with.
It's not and we do, but we congratulate Nissan
for its chutzpah in making such a claim that is
stamped in steel by aggressive "shift"
TV ads that leave us wanting more.