SAN FRANCISCO: Nissan thinks sport utilities have gotten too soft and too darn expensive,
so they have introduced the new Xterra, named after the XTERRA Championship off-road
triathlon event. The 2000 Xterra offers rugged, functional, off-road access and hauling
with no frills and no apologies.
The Xterra was developed
especially for the predominantly young, active hikers, runners, canoers, surfers,
kayakers, and mountain bikers who don't need or want leather upholstery, wood trim on the
dash, or a $30,000 price tag.
To prepare for designing
the new product, Nissan Design International, Inc. (NDI) sent its designers out to watch
these active lifestylers. They found people using wagons, trucks, vans and cars with
clever racks, compartments and bungee cords rigged up to hold their stuff. That's why the
Xterra has ten tie-down hooks, and can be outfitted to hold two mountain bikes inside its
spacious cargo hold.
Nissan wants Xterra buyers
to see the new SUV as a toolbox for their gear. It certainly feels like something from a
North Face catalogue - rugged design, high quality fittings, eminently practical and
reliable. Even this driver, with no thought of repelling off a cliff or kayaking through
any rapids, felt somehow invigorated driving the Xterra around.
Just because it looks tough
doesn't mean the Xterra is a beast on the highway. Cruising the interstate was pleasantly
smooth and quiet, with just a touch of wind noise off the lofty pipes of the roof rack.
The Xterra is based on
Nissan's Frontier pickup, a thoroughly tough truck in its own right. The Xterra
distinguishes itself with a blacked out grille, unique bulging fenders, tail lamps with a
rakish "chip" in the lens, deeply tinted rear windows, a pushed up rear roof
section and custom designed tubular roof rack. The requisite fat wheels and tires complete
That roof rack, which will
hold 125 pounds of gear, resembles after market products from outfitters like Yakima and
Thule. The front of the rack features a basket for stashing up to 30 pounds of muddy
clothes or wet boots. A fine idea, but the basket must be removed before the sunroof will
That kicked-up roof section
isn't just for looks. Up to three rear seat passengers can sit on the stadium style rear
bench, which is set higher than the front bucket seats, for a great view and spacious
headroom. The rear seats fold down and the bottom cushions come out to provide a flat load
floor. My test Xterra came in an unexpected Cloud White, all the better to flaunt mud from
some exciting adventure. Other palette options include the outdoorsy Denim Blue, Aztec
Red, Silver Ice, Alpine Green, Super Black and a retina toasting Solar Yellow.
Xterras may be ordered with
or without four wheel drive, but all models stand equally tall. Two levels, XE and SE, are
offered; the SE gets many standard features which are available as options on the XE, such
as air conditioning and the Utility and Sport Packages. Highlights of the packages include
auxiliary 12 volt power ports, a first aid kit for that asymmetrical bulge in the
tailgate, the roof rack, tubular step rails, alloy wheels with wider tires, and more.
The base XE's standard
2.4-liter four cylinder engine is good for 143 horsepower. I sampled this engine in a
Frontier last year, and it's a perfectly acceptable package. The 3.3-liter V-6 in my test
unit, however, benefits greatly from its 170 horsepower and 200 ft.-lbs. of torque (vs.
154 ft.-lbs. for the four). Buyers may choose either transmission. Mileage figures are 19
City, 24 Highway with the 2WD four and 15 City, 19 Highway for the 4WD V6 with automatic.
Which Xterra you choose
depends on how seriously you go off-roading and on how much your wallet will bear. The
base car, the XE 4 x 2 with the four cylinder engine and manual transmission, starts at
just $17,349. At the opposite end, my test car, an SE with the works, listed at $25,549.
It's really more fun with the SE's extra features, but an XE can be ordered with most of
the SE's equipment list to save a few bucks.
Driving up high gives a
feeling of safety on the road, and the Xterra backs that up with standard four wheel
anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags. If you're young and active, or just want to feel
like you are, sample the new Xterra. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Nissan Home Page
Byline: By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: "A Toolbox for Active Lifestyles"
Topic: 2000 Nissan Xterra SUV
Word Count: 740
Photo Caption: 2000 Nissan Xterra
Photo Credits: Nissan PR
Series #: 1999 - 60