2003 Nissan Xterra SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Nissan Xterra SUV


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Nissan Xterra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 210 hp @ 4800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 14/17 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Nissan Xterra

  • A truck-based compact-ute for those who actually plan to use it like it's featured in Nissan's TV commercials.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Rugged looks and the off-road capability to match, lots of room inside.

  • Cons

    Poor on-road ride and steering, four-cylinder and normally aspirated V6 lack power.

  • What's New for 2003

    Though the Xterra was updated just last year, Nissan has made further changes for 2003. Mechanically, the V6 has received a slight…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (152 total reviews)

I hate this car

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5M)

I bought the car in December with 71,000 miles. I just put it in the shop for something (not sure yet), it was loosing power and slipping. It has NO power and the 4WD sucks. I got stuck in my driveway in 1 inch of snow for 30 minutes one day, and the tires are good on it. It's gotten stuck other times too. I've had nothing but problems with the car since I got it, and I did my research on it before I bought it, no mechanical issues before. It has none of the benifits of an SUV. Also, it is very difficult to shift gears. I have to force it into first, second, and reverse a lot of the time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

One of the best suvs

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

Exceent SUV, if you take a little care of it: First of all change to Bilsteins - it will change your driving experience 180 degrees. Second, if you over 100K change timing belt, all other belts; watter pump, termostat. Third, make sure your brakes are good. Now you have a fantastic car - you have to invest a bit - but then you have a true 4x4 that will go anywhere, will start any time, and will drive and feel like brand new. Or much better than many brand new cars, suvs in the $20K range. My wife wants me to change my car to twice more expensive and more cool - I love this SUV - I put some sweat to it and it is perfect now! Love it!

Cant wait to get rid

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra SE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

Nothing but trouble! For starters, the a/c sucks! I blow cooler air then my Xterra. We have had the a/c charged & it made the issue worse. It also doesnt blow hard enough for my kids in the back seat to even feel it at all. The sunroof leaks. Ive replaced the starter, battery, connector cables, timing belt, and radiator multiple times & we still get stranded. It doesnt crank 50% of time. Was told it has mechanical issues. Im waiting on it to catch fire!The front grey bumper fades & chips & looks awful! & the sad thing is, we just now hit 103,000 miles. The window motors are going out & the seal on windows leak and make lots of air noise when driving. I hate this thing! My kids hate it too!

Best vehicle i've ever owned

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra XE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5M)

Last year, I got a job that required a long commute, and had to get rid of my 2003 Xterra. I really miss that SUV, by far the best vehicle I've ever owned. The only maintenance that was ever required was the scheduled maintenance, I never had a single problem with it that required fixing. It drove smooth, and was surprisingly quiet for an SUV. The V6 engine was very powerful, as we towed and carried many loads across the US without even straining it, there was always more power than we needed. By the time I traded it in after 7 years of driving, the paint was still perfect, the suspension was perfect, the engine was perfect, and the interior looked brand new. I really miss that Xterra. :(

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Mountain goat

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5M)

I love this vehicle. Exterior silver w/brush guards, roof rack w/tray. Interior rare black leather interior w/heated seats. Kids love visibility from tiered second row. Rear compartment provides plenty of storage for baseball equipment, etc. Added Bilstein shocks to smooth ride. Adding catback & CAI to address substandard fuel economy & provide boost to slightly underpowered 3.3 liter engine. An issue, not a problem. Currently 20/17 mpg w/conservative use. Handles blizzards with confidence. Climbed NYC snowbank to create parking spot! Nissan should consider turbo diesel engine for this tree-climbing Billy Goat. Love it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Will not let this one

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Xterra XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

I've owned my 2003 Xterra since new in 2003 and I can't say enough good things about this vehicle. Eight years of ownership, driven every day, long trips, short trips, on light trails and pavement. Knock sensor went bad at 92,000 miles. That's it...........my only repair. Of course there is the standard replacements, like air filter, oil changes and brakes, but the knock sensor has been the only mechanical failure. Oh yeah, I got 74,000 out of the front pads and the rear pads still look great at 105,000 miles. My daughter is turning 16 in a few months and this will be her vehicle. I feel very confident that this vehicle will provide her with safe, reliable transportation for years to come.

Gas Mileage


  • 14
  • cty
  • 17
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Nissan Xterra Review

What's New for 2003

Though the Xterra was updated just last year, Nissan has made further changes for 2003. Mechanically, the V6 has received a slight increase in power, and a stability control system (Nissan's VDC) will be a new option. Also for 2003, Xterra XE V6 models come with standard 16-inch alloy wheels and tubular step rails, and four new exterior colors are available, including Atomic Orange and Camouflage (limited and late availability). Inside, a driver seat-height and lumbar adjuster has been added to V6 models and a new roof headliner net (on nonsunroof models) and luggage side net have also been added, along with new metal ceiling tie-down hooks. A "rugged" leather package is now offered for the SE trim. Other refinements include a 300-watt rating for the Rockford Fosgate-powered eight-speaker audio system, an available tire-pressure monitoring system and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. A heavy-duty alternator and dual 12-volt power outlets located in the engine compartment are also standard on SE trim.

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