2003 Nissan Xterra Review

Pros & Cons

  • Rugged looks and the off-road capability to match, lots of room inside.
  • Poor on-road ride and steering, four-cylinder and normally aspirated V6 lack power.
List Price Estimate
$1,981 - $3,719

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A truck-based compact-ute for those who actually plan to use it like it's featured in Nissan's TV commercials.

2003 Highlights

Though the Xterra was updated just last year, Nissan has made further changes for 2003. Mechanically, the V6 has received a slight increase in power, and a stability control system (Nissan's VDC) will be a new option. Also for 2003, Xterra XE V6 models come with standard 16-inch alloy wheels and tubular step rails, and four new exterior colors are available, including Atomic Orange and Camouflage (limited and late availability). Inside, a driver seat-height and lumbar adjuster has been added to V6 models and a new roof headliner net (on nonsunroof models) and luggage side net have also been added, along with new metal ceiling tie-down hooks. A "rugged" leather package is now offered for the SE trim. Other refinements include a 300-watt rating for the Rockford Fosgate-powered eight-speaker audio system, an available tire-pressure monitoring system and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. A heavy-duty alternator and dual 12-volt power outlets located in the engine compartment are also standard on SE trim.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Nissan Xterra.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

One of the best SUVs
xterra_ep,08/22/2012
Exceent SUV, if you take a little care of it: First of all change to Bilsteins - it will change your driving experience 180 degrees. Second, if you over 100K change timing belt, all other belts; watter pump, termostat. Third, make sure your brakes are good. Now you have a fantastic car - you have to invest a bit - but then you have a true 4x4 that will go anywhere, will start any time, and will drive and feel like brand new. Or much better than many brand new cars, suvs in the $20K range. My wife wants me to change my car to twice more expensive and more cool - I love this SUV - I put some sweat to it and it is perfect now! Love it!
Best vehicle I've ever owned
masterelrond,09/10/2011
Last year, I got a job that required a long commute, and had to get rid of my 2003 Xterra. I really miss that SUV, by far the best vehicle I've ever owned. The only maintenance that was ever required was the scheduled maintenance, I never had a single problem with it that required fixing. It drove smooth, and was surprisingly quiet for an SUV. The V6 engine was very powerful, as we towed and carried many loads across the US without even straining it, there was always more power than we needed. By the time I traded it in after 7 years of driving, the paint was still perfect, the suspension was perfect, the engine was perfect, and the interior looked brand new. I really miss that Xterra. :(
Best car for everything!!
Bobby,10/01/2015
XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
In all honesty it is one of the best all around cars you can buy, and cheap too! The acceleration is not bad for what it is, the teams is fantastic!! I beat on mine all the time and if you do nessesitys to maintain it will hold up forever! Mine has 220,000 miles and runs strong, only repairs are on the clutch and breaks, very solid, pretty safe is you drive normally, surprisingly hard to flip! Reliable fun, relatively safe and 25+ mpg!!
Mountain Goat
tommy2cat,08/30/2011
I love this vehicle. Exterior silver w/brush guards, roof rack w/tray. Interior rare black leather interior w/heated seats. Kids love visibility from tiered second row. Rear compartment provides plenty of storage for baseball equipment, etc. Added Bilstein shocks to smooth ride. Adding catback & CAI to address substandard fuel economy & provide boost to slightly underpowered 3.3 liter engine. An issue, not a problem. Currently 20/17 mpg w/conservative use. Handles blizzards with confidence. Climbed NYC snowbank to create parking spot! Nissan should consider turbo diesel engine for this tree-climbing Billy Goat. Love it

Features & Specs

See all Used 2003 Nissan Xterra features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover2 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 2003 Nissan Xterra

Used 2003 Nissan Xterra Overview

The Used 2003 Nissan Xterra is offered in the following submodels: Xterra SUV. Available styles include SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A), SE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A), SE S/C 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl S/C 4A), XE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A), XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 4A), SE S/C Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl S/C 4A), XE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5M), XE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5M), and XE I4 Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Nissan Xterra?

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Which used 2003 Nissan Xterras are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2003 Nissan Xterras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Xterra for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $10,399.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 5 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $11,733.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Xterra for sale - 12 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $22,820.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 11 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $8,002.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 Nissan Xterra?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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