2006 Nissan Xterra SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Nissan Xterra SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Xterra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 265 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/20 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2006 Nissan Xterra

  • Hard-core all the way down to its fully boxed frame, the spartan 2006 Nissan Xterra should be a good fit for budget-minded buyers seeking maximum utility and off-road capability.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    One of the most powerful V6s in the class, above average off-road capability, solid passenger room, innovative cargo features.

  • Cons

    Still not what we would call refined on the street, lots of hard plastic in the cabin.

  • What's New for 2006

    For 2006, a new entry-level X model debuts, and the Power package is now standard on the S trim. All models get a lighted locking glovebox.

Full 2006 Nissan Xterra Review

What's New for 2006

For 2006, a new entry-level X model debuts, and the Power package is now standard on the S trim. All models get a lighted locking glovebox.


When the Nissan Xterra was introduced as a 2000 model, the strangely styled off-road-oriented sport-ute was priced to compete with car-based SUVs, yet it packed the rugged body-on-frame construction and hefty drivetrain of a larger and more expensive truck-based hauler. Nissan's idea was to build an SUV for younger, more active people who needed the space and versatility of a large vehicle but wanted to look edgy and cool when they pulled up to the lake or off-road trails. While it sold well initially, the first Nissan Xterra did have a few glaring deficiencies. The bare interior was composed mostly of hard plastic panels, the ride was jarring and, with only 170 horsepower on tap, the diminutive V6 barely had enough oats to propel the midsize SUV around town. Nissan attempted to fix these flaws when the Xterra underwent a midcycle redesign in 2002, adding a supercharger to improve performance.

With steady sales and an established image for the Xterra, Nissan didn't want to rock the boat when it redesigned its entry-level SUV for 2005. At first glance, the new model looks very similar to the previous version, yet there isn't a single part carried over from the old platform. The front end has been styled to match the rest of the Nissan truck lineup, but the rest of the exterior looks much more evolutionary than revolutionary. Giant fender flares? Check. Kicked-up roofline? Check. Tubular roof rack and lumpy rear hatch complete with first aid kit? Check and check. The vehicle's overall length is basically unchanged yet the wheelbase has been stretched by 2 inches. This not only netted a tighter look but also improves ramp angles for increased off-road clearance and performance. Speaking of off-road prowess, the Nissan Xterra climbs like a rabid mountain goat thanks to an all-new chassis with fully boxed frame rails and a powerful new heart, a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 265 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. Once again, both a five-speed automatic and a six-speed manual are available.

For safety's sake, four-wheel antilock disc brakes are now standard, and stability control system is offered as an option. Interior features include adjustable tie-down hooks in the cargo area, plenty of storage up front and an optional 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. Safety-conscious buyers will be happy to note that in addition to the optional stability control system, the Xterra also offers front-seat side-impact airbags as well as side curtain airbags that protect both rows of seats. Compared to car-based SUVs like the CR-V or Escape, the Xterra's on-pavement performance is not as refined or comfortable, but if serious off-roading is part of your daily routine, the 2006 Nissan Xterra is one of the better compact SUVs on the market. It also has solid 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 four-door Nissan Xterra is available in four trim levels -- X, S, Off-Road and SE, all of which are offered in both two- and four-wheel drive. The base X comes with basic features like air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel and a CD player. The S adds cruise control and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Off-Road model includes high-performance gas shocks, off-road tires on alloy wheels and skid plates; 4WD versions also get a locking rear differential, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. The SE loses the Off-Road's hard-core equipment but adds upgraded interior trim and a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, MP3 capability and steering wheel-mounted controls.

Powertrains and Performance

All Nissan Xterra models feature a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 265 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, generous figures for this class. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional. Four-wheel-drive versions use a multimode transfer case that offers 2WD and automatic 4WD modes, in addition to low-range gearing, for maximum flexibility in varying conditions.


All Xterras come equipped with stability control and four-wheel antilock disc brakes fortified with EBD and brake assist. Side-impact airbags (for front occupants) and full-length side curtain airbags are optional. In NHTSA testing, the Nissan Xterra earned four out of five stars for its protection of front occupants in head-on impacts. Five stars were awarded for protection of both front and rear occupants in side-impact crashes.

Interior Design and Special Features

Although there's more hard plastic than we'd like, the interior stays true to its function-over-form mission, and the ergonomics are solid. The cargo area is highlighted by an easy-to-clean floor and a total of 10 cargo area utility hooks -- six on the floor/sides and four on the ceiling and sides (floor hooks can carry up to 110 pounds). An adjustable channel system in the cargo floor, similar in design to the system offered on the Titan and Frontier pickups, makes it easier to secure bike racks and other gear. There's also an available built-in first aid kit and space to securely carry jugs up to one gallon in size.

Driving Impressions

With more than enough power under the hood, the Xterra is no longer plagued by sluggish performance on the street. Its truck chassis still doesn't deliver the sharp handling that a car chassis would, but it's an acceptable trade-off, given its above-average off-road prowess. If you never plan on leaving the street, there are certainly better compact SUVs on the market, but if off-highway weekend adventures call your name often, the 2006 Nissan Xterra is now a much more capable and willing participant than ever before.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

112,359 miles and still going

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Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Pros; My 2006 Nissan Xterra Just had a few updates at 112,000 miles, new brakes, rotors, tires Generals, Synthetic oil change, and filter, transmission flush, added external transmission cooler, eliminated radiator transmission cooler. Cons; timing chain guide problems, very expensive $ 1800., Mine did not have this probem, Radiator fails leaks coolant in to transmission ruining transmission, $ 3800 repair. Mine did not have this problem. I added external transmission cooler, and eliminated the possible problem.

Best family trail 4x4

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Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-Road 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M)

If you need 4 or 5 seatbelts and want to fit on 4X4 trails, Xterra is hard to beat. More comfortable (I'm 6'4" and hit my head on Rubicon roll bar) and reliable than Jeep, more usable back seat and better visibility than FJ. A fraction of the cost of a Land Cruiser. Everything you need and nothing you don't. Seriously capable off road, especially with the right tires, lockers, and aftermarket mods. Great dimensions and clearance angles, especially when lifted.

A rolling money pit

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Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

There's a very good reason why this truck has been rated as one of the worst used cars to buy. We bought our 2006 new. Mechanically things were fine for about 40k miles, and after that the truck simply fell apart even with constant maintenance. After warranty expired I replaced: Windshield. Both window lift assemblies and controls. The bearings and control arms on all 4 wheels. The rear differential. Rear lift arms. Alternator. Spark plugs and wires. Catalytic converters. But worst of all was the radiator/transmission cooler failure. That allowed the coolant to mix with the tranny fluid killing the transmission. It is a known problem - so avoid this truck and the heartache it brings.

Couldn't be more pleased

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

This is the best vehicle. So incredibly reliable. Some fun facts: - In 7 years of ownership, I've never taken it to the shop for anything other than the regular oil change and tire rotation. - Front 2 seats are very comfortable. I get many comments on this. - Steering wheel offers some resistance when turning but is OK. - Stylish - Decent gas mileage for the year and type of vehicle - Lots of trunk space, tons when the back seats are down. I can fit a corner piece of furniture in the back standing upright in this thing. - Don't have to slam the doors for them to close - Nice blinker sound - Replacements parts (from minor fender benders & whatnot) are pretty cheap

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great vehicle if you need

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Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I bought my Xterra with 4wd used in 2010, and have since had it for 2 and a half years. It has been a fantastic vehicle in terms of reliability and performance. The problem is the gas mileage. If you do not need to haul heavy things, pull large objects, or you do not frequently encounter bad weather, then I do not suggest this SUV. The back seat is cramped for adults, and the interior lacks a lot to be desired in terms of comfort. Combine those aspects with the very poor mpg, and it makes this SUV difficult to validate. HOWEVER... if you do need such a vehicle, I could not suggest a better one. The reliability is up there with Honda, and off road/ working performance is great.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2006 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I've read a lot of reviews from other people. The repairs on my XTerra are mounting up. Should I bight the bullet and dow out the money. They say I have a cracked radiator which seems common with this model. Power steering fluid leak will cost $1200 to replace unit. Dealership says it can leak into other areas of car. Brake rotare should never wear out in my mind. And now wheel bearing problems. Several years ago, I paid to have the timing chain corrected. Why are all these things happening.

Talk About The 2006 Xterra

2006 Nissan Xterra Discussions See all Started By

My 2006 X needs a new clutch, they say, at 23000 miles. No excessive driving habits. No fluid leakage detected upon visual inspection. What's up with that?...

I own a 2006 Off-Road , the power door locks keep on locking , with car running , car off , while driving ... . Dealer cannot find the problem . They have so far replaced the BCM & driver door ac?...

2006 Xterra Offroad, MSRP 28325 plus step rails, Paid 24575 after Nissan 1000 rebate plus 289 sealant plus 389 dealer prep fee. First tank of gas yielded 17.108 mpg -- mix of city, highway -- more cit...

Read more about the 2006 Nissan Xterra

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 20
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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