What's New for 2007
The Nissan Xterra gets a few minor upgrades for 2007. Mud guards are now standard on all 4X4 models, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sunglasses holder are now standard on Off-Road models, and body side moldings are now standard on SE models.
The Nissan Xterra is a lot like that friend you had in high school who knew from age 5 exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. This vehicle has never struggled to find its niche; from the start, its mission has always been clear. The Xterra is an SUV for buyers who like the crunch of gravel under their tires, a purpose-built fun machine for those who seek their thrills in the great outdoors.
From the inside out, the 2007 Nissan Xterra is primed and ready for when the paved road ends. It offers up to 9.5 inches of ground clearance, and underbody components are neatly contained above the frame. Low gearing helps the ute shine when the agenda calls for rock-crawling, and the rear differential can be locked at the push of a button. Electronic Hill Descent checks speed when tackling steep descents, and a Hill Start Assist system keeps you from rolling backward should you need to stop while ascending a slope.
On-pavement handling is agreeable, if not overly refined. This is a vehicle that won't leave you jostled, sore and irritated after a long road trip. The Xterra's rack-and-pinion steering is dialed in to the road, and its 4.0-liter V6 is fast and responsive.
If off-roading is merely something you glimpse on ESPN as you switch channels in search of Oprah, then you'll want to pass on the Xterra; you'd be better served by a car-based SUV like the Honda CR-V, which offers superior on-road comfort. But if you're an urban adventurer looking for a ride that holds its own both on and off pavement, you'd be hard-pressed to find a choice that delivers more than the 2007 Nissan Xterra.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Buyers of the five-passenger Nissan Xterra midsize SUV have a choice of four trim levels -- X, S, SE and Off-Road. The first three are offered in both two- and four-wheel drive, while the Off-Road is offered in four-wheel drive only. The base X offers amenities like air-conditioning and a CD player. The S adds cruise control, remote keyless entry and full power accessories. The Off-Road model includes high-performance gas shocks, off-road tires on alloy wheels, 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 nine-speaker 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with MP3 capability, an auxiliary jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls. A host of packages are also available that allow upgrades like satellite radio and step rails.
Powertrains and Performance
All Nissan Xterra models feature a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet 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 antilock disc brakes fortified with brake assist. Side-impact airbags (for front occupants) and full-length side curtain airbags are optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the 2007 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. In IIHS tests, the Xterra earned an "Acceptable" rating -- the second highest -- for frontal crash protection.
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 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 1 gallon in size.
With more than enough power under the hood, the 2007 Nissan Xterra offers brisk performance on the street. Solid steering feel and a lack of excessive body roll make for a confident feel on pavement. Yes, its truck chassis still doesn't deliver the sharp handling that a car-based platform would, but it's an acceptable trade-off, given its above-average off-road prowess. Off-road, the low-end grunt, generous ground clearance and ample wheel articulation allow the Xterra to negotiate some serious terrain, such as rutted and rock-strewn trails.