2009 Nissan Xterra SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 261 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/20 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Nissan Xterra

  • The 2009 Nissan Xterra makes an excellent choice for the weekend off-road warrior who still needs an SUV civilized enough for the Monday-through-Friday commute.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Serious off-road prowess, powerful V6, innovative cargo features.

  • Cons

    Second-rate interior plastics, mushy brake pedal.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Nissan Xterra returns with a new face-lift for the front end, roof-mounted lights for the Off Road model, various exterior and interior trim enhancements and standard side curtain airbags.

Full 2009 Nissan Xterra Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Nissan Xterra returns with a new face-lift for the front end, roof-mounted lights for the Off Road model, various exterior and interior trim enhancements and standard side curtain airbags.


When the Nissan Xterra debuted nearly a decade ago, this SUV -- named after an off-road triathlon series -- immediately became popular with outdoor-loving Gen Xers. Extreme sports enthusiasts found the Xterra to be the perfect vehicle for snow, surf and all points between. Today, the 2009 Nissan Xterra proudly upholds the reputation built by its predecessor.

Although car-based crossovers have become increasingly popular for tackling highways and boulevards, most have no business going off the beaten path. The truck-based Xterra, on the other hand, thrives under tough conditions with its high ground clearance, lack of protruding underbody parts and off-road machinery and assists. The Xterra's ride might not be as refined as a crossover's, but the Nissan is by no means a bull in a china shop, either. A long commute or road trip keeps occupants comfortable, while precise steering and an abundance of V6 power make for a satisfying driving experience.

Admittedly, few SUV owners take their vehicles off-road, so if you fall into this category, quality on-roaders like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 would be better choices. Other options include the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for its superior trail-blazing prowess or the Toyota FJ Cruiser for its eye-catching style. All said, though, if you need an affordable SUV that is as at home in the wilderness as it is in the city, the 2009 Nissan Xterra is a solid choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Nissan Xterra is a midsize SUV that seats five passengers. It is offered in four trim levels: X, S, Off Road and SE. These models are offered in either two- or four-wheel drive, except for the Off Road, which is only offered in 4WD.

Standard equipment for the Xterra X includes 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player. The S trim level adds alloy wheels, step rails, an eight-way adjustable driver seat, a cargo channel system and a rubberized, easy-to-clean surface on the floor of the cargo area.

The Xterra SE steps up to17-inch alloy wheels and adds even more standard features, including leather seats and trim and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Many of these items can be tacked onto the Off Road version as part of a technology package. The Off Road model includes 17-inch alloy wheels with rugged trail tires, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, skid plates, an electronically locking rear differential, cloth seats specific to this trim level and a fold-down passenger seat.

Like most of Nissan's lineup, options are offered in large packages and not la carte. The optional eight-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system includes a six-CD/MP3 changer, an auxiliary audio jack, Bluetooth and satellite radio. For added off-road functionality, the X Gear package is offered and includes roof rack crossbars, foglights, a first aid kit, a cargo net and a gear basket. Nissan also offers a dockable rear entertainment system and a portable Garmin navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

All 2009 Nissan Xterras are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional five speed automatic (except in the SE, which comes standard with the automatic). We managed to accelerate a 4WD Xterra to 60 mph in a respectable 7.6 seconds.

Four-wheel-drive models offer plenty of traction in varying conditions, thanks to a multimode transfer case with low-range gearing. A 2009 Nissan Xterra 2WD with the manual transmission turns in an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Mileage for 4WD and automatic transmissions varies only slightly.


The 2009 Nissan Xterra is equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Xterra Off Road models also come with hill descent control and hill start assist.

In crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Xterra earned four out of five stars for frontal impact protection and a perfect five out of five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Xterra its highest rating of "Good" for both frontal and side impact protection. Rollover ratings are mediocre, however; the 2009 Nissan Xterra gets a three-star rollover rating from the NHTSA and falls just to the low side of the middle when compared to all SUVs combined.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2009 Nissan Xterra's interior is well designed, with excellent ergonomics. However, the overall impression is marred by the use of subpar hard plastics. The cargo area offers 35 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 66 cubes with the seats folded. All Xterras (except for the base X model) feature cargo areas that have an easy-to-clean floor, as well as sturdy utility hooks mounted to the sides of the floor and ceiling. An innovative, adjustable channel system for securing bike racks and gear is also built into the floor. There are also built-in spaces for an optional first aid kit and a 1-gallon water jug.

Driving Impressions

Thanks to the 2009 Nissan Xterra's powerful V6, performance is sure to satisfy. On the road, the Xterra maneuvers confidently with precise steering, while also keeping body roll in check. With its truck-derived underpinnings, the Xterra offers impressive off-road performance due to its long suspension travel and high ground clearance. The engine further enhances off-road prowess with its prodigious low-end power. The compromises of handling and ride quality in the city are minor, considering the Xterra's versatility.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Happy camper

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

A solid unit that tows like there is nothing behind. Two road trips of 2500 miles and was very pleased with the comfort for a truck that also is a tank off road. Handles much better in snow than my old G Cherokee. I looked at the fj, H3 and others but the visibility on the X was a huge selling point. If you want an "out door" vehicle it's nice to see it. I would recommend and buy again. A good value.

Beast 4x4

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I did my home work compare and test drive a jeep, fj and blazer and i decided to get a xterra. drove it in ohio winter storm with 24 inches of snow off road no problem still lots of power its a beast for a 4x4. i love it hope they have a bigger tires and higher ground clearance.:)

Cool truck, but not great

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I bought this truck and loved it for the first 13,000 miles or so. The RF stereo sounds great, the Bluetooth phone system is great and the potential capability of the truck is excellent. However, at around 13,000 miles, the vibrations and squeaks started making me question the long term quality. There is an odd metallic vibration that comes from the front of the truck when the engine hits about 1750 RPMs when driving. Also, while I don't mind the appearance of the hard plastic interior materials, they do scratch easily. This is mostly a problem in the cargo area, where hauling basic, normal will leave it scratched up after only a couple of times. The roof rack is fantastic, though.

One of the last real

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

The Nissan Xterra is one of the last real SUVs, that is capable of being a daily driver AND going off road on the weekends (try that with a Hyundai Santa Fe or Toyota Rav4). Ride is definitely truck-like (and should be, since it's based on a truck platform), but still gives a quiet and smooth ride on the interstate. The Technology package is awesome, and the Bluetooth and Rockford Fosgate system are great options. I love my X. It's equally suited to long road-trips and deep woods excursions. I wouldn't want anything else.

Great suv for the money

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Overall I'm very pleased with my Xterra SE. Something I haven't seen mentioned here is a recent recall I was told about through a Nissan mailing. The mailing states that there "could be" a bad weld on the torsion bar and to schedule an appointment with the dealership and they'd diagnose and repair at no cost if necessary. The dealer informed me that they needed a special welder to do the repair and they didn't have one there. They are supposed to locate a business nearby that can handle the job and contact me. They also said that Corporate Nissan informed them that this recall is for ALL Xterra's- not some of them. I felt a bit deceived by the mailing at that point. Otherwise, I'm very happy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Mixed review

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Xterra S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Purchased new 2009. Rockford Fosgate sound system above average, nice technology package. Combined gas mileage (20% city, 80% hwy) is 21-22 mpg. Looks nice, rides comfortably, but I'm having hard time adjusting from previous full-size pickup truck. I am 6' tall, and I feel a little closed-in. Short arm rest is more like an elbow rest... it sucks. Test drive was good, but after a month I'm not so happy. 6 cylinder engine seems to have sufficient if not awesome power. Back seats are nice to have, but not much room for rear passengers unless you scoot front seats up. Plastic console dents easily (don't drop anything on it). Vehicle is shorter than some cars. Mixed feelings, but quality vehicle

Talk About The 2009 Xterra

2009 Nissan Xterra Discussions See all Started By

1. Notice of proposed settlement -Lawsuits were filed regarding the 2005-2010 model year Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra, and Nissan Frontier vehicles... lawsuits alleged that these vehicles contain ...

Thank you for your responses ! I live near Nissan Peacock and those two 2009 xterras they have are 2008 models actually ! Not sure about other dealerships (will call them), but Robbins Nissan, another...

Hi Zach. If you are set on leasing your next vehicle, then the Xterra is definitely not for you. Nissan is not currently providing any lease support on the 2009 Xterra. As a result, if you were to ...

Read more about the 2009 Nissan Xterra

Gas Mileage


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