2004 Nissan Xterra SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2004 Nissan Xterra SUV

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Nissan Xterra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 143 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2004 Nissan Xterra

  • A truck-based compact sport-ute for those who actually plan to go off-roading. Those seeking a refined urban runabout should look elsewhere.

  • Safety
  • Pros

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

  • Cons

    Sloppy on-road ride and steering, four-cylinder and standard V6 lack power, spartan cabin design.

  • What's New for 2004

    For 2004, 17-inch alloy wheels are now standard on non-supercharged SE models, and 16-inch, four-spoke alloys are standard on the XE-V6.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (10 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

2 of 2 people found this review helpful


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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Bought used with aprox. 20,000 miles, in 2006. Now has 80,000 in 2010. I have only changed the oil, the air filter, the head lights, wipers, and battery. Did every thing but the oil myself with ease. My good friend, a mechanic, recommended I buy an Xterra. I am glad I did. I owned a 2000 Frontier that never gave me a problem either, so I was happy to by another Nissan. I'd bet it has the same 2.4 litter engine, but geared lower. I removed the roof rack air dam for better mileage.

Suv that is really solid,

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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I have owned this car for 6 months now, and have no complaints at all so far, is solid like a rock, and very fun to drive. Is not like one of those SUV that look much more like a sedan on the inside, is rather basic and rough, but is still very quiet in the inside, seats are comfortable, and has a lot of pockets and compartments all over. AC and heater are great, factory stereo has a decent sound, manual transmission is smooth (for an off-road SUV) and looks fantastic, all your neighbors will notice it, that's for sure.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

A bit disappointed in nissan

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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Reliability has been great and it has definitely hauled a lot of items for me. Very easy to steer and turns on a dime. However, I'm very disappointed in Nissan craftmanship. Front grille immediately faded within 6 months. I was told by dealer that this was part of the "rugged" look and they wouldn't replace it. Seats are very hard and uncomfortable for travel. Windows have poor insulation - wind is howling. No mirrors even on the visors! Back seat doors are made for people smaller than a size ten (and younger than 50) to squeeze through to get into the backseat. But I guess you pay for what you get.

Nissan truck disquised as suv

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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I like this XTERRA a lot. I have only had it for 2 months, but it is just like an old friend, specifically the old Nissan truck I had years ago. It IS very rugged looking and DRIVING. It feels every bump and curve in the road,but it keeps on going. It's a fun truck / suv to drive. Yes, the 5 speed is NOT powerful, but anyone knows that before they buy it (internet research).It keeps me from getting tickets! Its too cute for words and so far, I like it. We also have a Titan which is rated pretty low.But we like it,too. IT IS TOO POWERFUL!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Nice vehicle even as "bare

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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Bought vehicle used with 39,000 miles. Now it has 84,000 miles. So far, only part replaced was thermal sensor for the fuel injector, A.K.A. "wax kit", which measures engine heat for the fuel injector through a radiator hose. Wax kit, dealer installed, was $230.00. Covered under accessory warranty (3yrs/36K miles), not under drivetrain warranty (5 yrs/60,000 miles). The 4 cyl/5 spd manual is nice and economical with hwy/city mileage almost always 20 MPG with regular gasoline. It's easy to work on mechanically, with a lot of extra room in the engine compartment. Rides nice and secure on the highway. The 4 cyl / 5 spd manual is an excellent value, even if purchased brand new.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

If you want a true

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Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I compared the Saturn Vue and the Hyundai Sante Fe before making my decision on the Xterra. The Xterra has a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. while the others have only 1,200 lbs. The ground clearance and cargo capacity is larger than the others too. Get the 4 cyl 5 speed manual if you want the power. It does seem underpowered at first and it took me three days to get used to the shifts. Now I can make this truck fly fast. It has three regular V belts instead of 1 long serpentine belt so no worries if you run into deep water. Nissan built a real SUV.

Full 2004 Nissan Xterra Review

What's New for 2004

For 2004, 17-inch alloy wheels are now standard on non-supercharged SE models, and 16-inch, four-spoke alloys are standard on the XE-V6.


Ever since the mid-'90s, compact SUVs have become a huge market. Most manufacturers offer one, and with so many available, it is often hard choosing which one is right for you. The majority of compact SUVs for sale in 2003 are so-called "crossover" SUVs, meaning that they are car-based rather than truck-based. The advantages to having a small crossover SUV are that they are comfortable to drive and possess secure handling characteristics. Nissan's Xterra, now in its fourth model year, is somewhat of a rarity. It is based on a real truck; namely, the Frontier compact pickup. Its wheelbase is shared with the Frontier, and so is the independent front suspension and leaf-spring and solid axle setup at the rear. As such, the Xterra (terra for the land it crosses and X for the generation it intends to target) is tailored to the outdoor enthusiast. Its spartan interior, bucking-bronco ride and utilitarian design are not focused on providing comfort for wide bottoms, though we still see it driven by middle-aged folks to Pottery Barn parking lots. The Xterra is extremely capable off-road; jam it into 4-Lo via the floor-mounted lever, and it bounds over rocks and gullies with abandon. But when compared to other SUVs like the Honda CR-V or Ford Escape, the Xterra's on-pavement performance seems sloppy and numb. It's also more expensive, especially with the higher trim levels. If you truly plan to get your future compact SUV dirty, though, the Xterra should be seriously considered. It has the right styling, the right attitude and the right hardware. It also has good build quality and a strong reputation for reliability, giving you peace of mind as you head out on your favorite trail.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Xterra is Nissan's compact SUV. There are four trim levels -- XE, XE-V6, SE-V6 and SE-Supercharged (S/C). Four-wheel drive is available with all of these, except the base XE. The base XE doesn't come with many standard features other than air conditioning and a CD player. The XE-V6 adds 16-inch alloy wheels, an extra pair of speakers (for a total of six) and a tilt steering wheel. Amenities like power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and cruise control are optional on both XE models. The SE and SE-S/C models add 17-inch wheels, tubular step bars and a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with an in-dash CD changer. Options on both SE models include leather upholstery and a flip-up sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

Base XEs come with a 2.4-liter inline four that makes 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. As this truck weighs almost 3,600 pounds, acceleration is modest, at best. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with this engine. The larger 3.3-liter V6 makes 180 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque. SE-S/C models have an Eaton supercharger bolted on that boost horsepower to 210 and torque to 246. You can get a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic on the XE-V6, but all SEs and SE-S/Cs come with the automatic only. Four-wheel-drive Xterras have a part-time 4WD system with shift-on-the-fly capability. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds (with V6 and the automatic transmission), considerably more than that of most crossover SUVs.


All Xterras have antilock brakes (front discs and rear drums) with EBD. In the backseat, the center position has a lap belt only. Side curtain airbags, an unusual feature for this class of vehicle, are optional. So is VDC, Nissan's stability control system, and it's offered on all V6 models. In NHTSA side-impact testing, the Xterra received four stars (out of a possible five) for front-occupant safety and five stars for the rear. Front-impact safety is rated at four stars. The IIHS rated the Xterra "Acceptable" (the second highest) after performing its frontal offset crash test.

Interior Design and Special Features

Young, active folks won't have any trouble hopping up or down from the Xterra's high seats, nor will they object to the thin cushions they find there, but others will likely wish for cushier chairs and easier access. The dash is comprised of quality materials and the quasi-industrial look of the switchgear fits the vehicle-as-tool theme. Maximum capacity is 65.6 cubic feet, an average figure for a compact SUV.

Driving Impressions

The Xterra looks sort of cool and is a blast off-road. But the soft and sloppy suspension is certainly no joy on the pavement, allowing excessive body roll. The steering is also heavily boosted and gives little feedback to the driver. As you would expect, Xterras with the supercharged V6 offer the best acceleration. The supercharger whine sounds exhilarating, and there is plenty of thrust in first gear; although, much like the standard V6, the supercharged engine runs out of steam at freeway speeds.

Talk About The 2004 Xterra

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs