2012 Nissan Xterra SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Nissan Xterra SUV

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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 2012 Nissan Xterra

  • Even though the 2012 Nissan Xterra doesn't have the funky styling or legendary brand name of its off-road-ready SUV competitors, it's equally capable in the dirt and a lot easier to live with in everyday driving.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Serious off-road prowess; innovative cargo features; most livable truck in its class.

  • Cons

    Unimpressive interior design and materials; poor fuel economy relative to similarly priced crossovers.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Nissan Xterra is unchanged.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2011 nissan xterra pro-4x review

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

I bought my Xterra strictly for it's offroad capabilities and here is my opinion after 36k miles: I bought a manual tranny model cause I was unsure if Nissan fixed the automatic tranny problem. First gear on the 6 speed is pretty good ratio wise for crawling around technical rocky terrain, I live in NV where that is most of the terrain. The stock tires were terrible offroad and should not be used in hard wheeling conditions. My Xterra would climb like a billy goat, but performed terribly in snow and mud as it wouldn't allow wheel spin to get through such. I blew up the front axle when I pulled the fuse to allow me to actually get the front wheels spinning in snow. Towing is sketchy!!!

Great suv

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

Great SUV!!! I have the 2011 Xterra S Black. I put a NISMO cold air intake on it and it sounds fantastic! It feels safe with all the features and how high you sit up. The only complaint is that it gets 19mpg at best and there is no AUX port????

Great suv

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

I've had a number of different SUV brands over the years, this by far is the best. It is a "true" SUV not a crossover, lots of space & just generally a great fun car to drive. Very reliable, have driven back & forth down South a few times w/o any problems whatsoever. It was a year old when purchased.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Solid truck, lacks features, it

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

I bought the 2011 Xterra about 6 months ago. Its a very solid truck, tons of power, great torque, havent had the time to get down in the snow but it seems to carry itself well through all other weather situations. It definitely lacks some features for a 2011 model, suck as an AV input or a USB input. The stereo system isnt as bad as people say, just change the head unit and it sounds fine. Interior could use some better materials, but its a Utility / Off Road built truck, its good for what its built for. Get a Pathfinder if you want luxury.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

My wife and i love

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

I'm 60 years old and have owned lots of other vehicles this is the best/ It can "Do It All". Great in the mountains / rides and handles great /tows our boat no problem/ lots of room/fun to drive /we go everywhere in it. Only regret is I did not buy one years ago. we have 2011 xterra S 2wd and it goes every where we want to go /I can only imagine what a 4x4 is like.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Traditional midsize suv

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Xterra

If you like the traditional SUV then you will love the 2011 Pro-4X. 4.0 liter V6 is high output engine is more than enough power. Great ride with they Bilstein performance shocks. Good looking tires (had the car a month - do not know how the tires will wear yet). Traditional SUV exterior styling. Leather seats are super comfortable. Rockford Fosgate head unit sounds great. The auxillary interface is nice. The IPOD interface is also a major plus. Nice big side back windows. Looked at a new FJ and used H3 but decided agains because the size and or lack of windows.

Gas Mileage


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

Full 2012 Nissan Xterra Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan Xterra is unchanged.


When it really comes down to it, the 2012 Nissan Xterra is an SUV best suited for active folks whose idea of a good time involves getting off the beaten path. With its beefy, body-on-frame construction, available four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, gobs of ground clearance and mulelike load-carrying capacity, the Xterra makes a great companion for weekend adventurers.

The Xterra is also easier to live with during the week than its few remaining old-school SUV competitors. That's because the Xterra, with its traditional four-door design, is decidedly more practical in daily driving than the Toyota FJ Cruiser (big blind spots and goofy rear-opening access doors) and the Jeep Wrangler (noisier, rougher riding and generally less refined).

Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there are a few downsides to all this brawn, including the Xterra's trucklike ride and handling dynamics, poor fuel economy and no-frills interior. If all you really need is an SUV that can handle light-duty trails, a small or midsize crossover like a Kia Sorento or Subaru Forester will likely suit you much better given their superior comfort, feature content and fuel efficiency. But if you want to keep it rugged, old-school and reasonably practical, the long-running Xterra will certainly satisfy.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Nissan Xterra is a four-door, five-passenger SUV that's offered in three trim levels. Entry-level X and midrange S models are both available with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, while the off-road-oriented Pro-4X is four-wheel drive only.

The X comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels; rear privacy glass; roof rack side rails; keyless entry; air-conditioning; cloth upholstery; a 60/40 split-folding rear seat; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; tilt-only steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo.

Stepping up to the S gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road tires, a driver seat with adjustable height and lumbar, a first aid kit and a cargo organization system. Four-wheel-drive S models also get a roof rack with crossbars and a gear basket.

The Pro-4X adds a number of off-road-ready features including an electronic locking rear differential, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, skid plates and unique 16-inch alloy wheels with upgraded off-road tires, plus foglights and roof-mounted off-road driving lights. Inside upgrades include distinctive cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, white-face gauges, an auto-dimming rearview mirror (with built-in compass), Bluetooth and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with a six-CD changer, auxiliary audio input jack, steering-wheel audio controls and satellite radio (automatic transmission models only). The Pro-4X Leather package adds leather upholstery and a passenger seatback map pocket, but deletes the flat-folding front passenger seat.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Nissan Xterra is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. Two-wheel-drive X and S models can only be had with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the four-wheel-drive S and Pro-4X have a choice between the automatic and a six-speed manual. Rear-wheel drive is standard (except on the Pro-4X), and a four-wheel-drive system with a multimode low-range transfer case is available as an option.

In Edmunds performance testing, an Xterra 4x4 with an automatic transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds. The rear-wheel-drive Xterra returns an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Adding four-wheel drive lowers those numbers to 15/20/17.


The 2012 Nissan Xterra is equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Pro-4X models also come with hill-descent control and hill-start assist. In Edmunds brake testing, an Xterra Pro-4X came to a stop from 60 mph in 131 feet -- an average result for an off-roading SUV.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Xterra its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side impact tests and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof strength test.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Nissan Xterra is as no-nonsense on the inside as it is on the outside. The styling is relatively plain and there are lots of low-budget hard plastics to be found, but gauges and controls are easy to see and use. While the same can be said for other off-road-oriented SUVs, it bears mentioning that car-based compact crossovers offer noticeably nicer and more well-equipped cabins.

Of course, the Xterra has always been more about function than form, as seen in details like an easy-to-clean cargo floor with multiple tie-down points and available accessories that make it possible to secure bikes and other gear inside and out. If it turns out that the 35 cubic feet behind the rear seats or 66 cubic feet with them folded down isn't enough cargo room for you, the standard roof rack and gear basket up top stand ready to handle the overflow. Designated storage spaces for a first aid kit and water jug are nice details.

Driving Impressions

The powerful V6 under the hood of the 2012 Nissan Xterra produces more than enough oomph for daily driving. The engine's good low-end power also makes it well-suited to off-road excursions.

The Xterra's truck-based construction, abundant ground clearance, long-travel suspension and low-range transfer case give it impressive performance in the dirt, though the Jeep Wrangler still has a bit of an edge here. On the pavement, ride and handling are certainly truckish, though most buyers will likely consider that to be a fair trade-off for the Xterra's ability to keep on going even after the asphalt ends.

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