San Francisco: It's
an open secret that most people who buy SUVs never take them off-roading.
Oh, sure, they might find comfort in the fact that their
four-wheel-drive American MegaCrusher is capable of scaling the Andes in
six seconds flat, but in reality the furthest they go off pavement is in
the grass parking lot outside their kid's Little League baseball field.
Heck, you could drive a
worn-out golf cart to the same places most SUVs go. It didn't take
carmakers long to realize this. That's why dealerships today are packed
with things that look like SUVs but are, in fact, merely cars
masquerading as tough trucks.
The Honda Pilot for
example looks like an SUV, but it's actually a lowly Accord that decided
to wear a truck costume for Halloween. That's great if you want your SUV
to drive like a car, which most people do. But what if you truly need a
four-wheel-drive SUV that can help get you to the top of Mount Rainier?
You consider the Nissan
The Xterra is one of
only a handful of mid-size SUVs that stay true to their truck-like
roots. It still has a true truck frame that gives it strength for
bouncing over boulders, and its solid-axle suspension is designed to
withstand brutal treatment on the trails. It's built like a Cold War
Several downsides come
with this off-road prowess, though. For one, the Xterra has a much
bumpier, bouncier, harsher ride than its car-based counterparts. For
another, its true body-on-frame design makes it feel like Jell-O when
you hit a pothole, and it doesn't seem nearly as connected to the road
as its car-based competitors with their more advanced suspension
designs. Not surprisingly, it also drives like a Cold War military
That's not to say it's
awful. It's actually far better than the first-generation Xterra that
was sold until 2005, and Nissan surprisingly managed to increase
off-road performance and on-road comfort at the same time. That's a huge
One of the Xterra's
greatest strengths is its simplicity. You can't get leather seats, a DVD
player or navigation system with it, but what you do get is a very well
thought out, functional design. There are useful features throughout
this SUV, including storage bins stuffed into every imaginable spot.
The cargo area is
brilliantly planned, with seats that fold completely flat and an
easy-to-clean plastic surface that's perfect for hauling your filthy
gear. You won't feel guilty throwing your muddy boots in the back
because it's so fast and simple to wipe it clean later.
There are a total of 10
hooks for tying your stuff in the cargo area - six on the floor and
sides and four on the ceiling - plus an adjustable channel system in the
cargo floor designed for securing bike racks and other accessories.
Price-wise, the Xterra
ranges from the low $20,000s to around $28,000 depending on which model
you choose. All versions come with the same 4.0-liter V6 engine that
makes plenty of power.
Overall, it's good to
know you can still buy an SUV that does all the cool things SUVs were
originally built for. It's a real do-anything, go-anywhere vehicle - and
that's becoming a rarity.
tested? The 2007 Nissan Xterra Off-Road 4x4
with a base price of $27,200. Options included: XM satellite radio
($350), Rockford Fosgate audio package ($900), carpeted floor mats
($110), side curtain air bags ($700). Price as tested including a $605
destination charge: $29,865.
All the Xterra's
controls are logical and within easy reach, but hard plastics on the
dash feel like they came from Fisher-Price.
Why avoid it?
It drives like a true off-road SUV, with a bouncy, harsh ride and
Form follows function
in the Nissan Xterra. The boxy body shape wraps around its truck-like
frame for good clearance driving over boulders and through the woods.
Why buy it?
It's a simple, back-to-basics SUV designed for real off-road driving. It
has plenty of space inside and a brilliantly designed cargo area with
easy-to-clean surfaces and plenty of tie-downs. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Nissan Home Page
Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The Nissan Xterra is a back-to-basics SUV
Topic: The 2007 Nissan Xterra Off-Road 4x4
Word Count: 753
Photo Caption: The 2007 Nissan Xterra Off-Road 4x4
Photo Credits: Nissan Xterra Internet Media
Series #: 2007-18
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2007 Nissan Xterra
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2007 Nissan Xterra