2008 Nissan Xterra Review

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent off-road capabilities, powerful V6, thoughtful cargo-area features.
  • Low-quality interior plastics, soft brake pedal.
List Price Range
$4,700 - $7,299

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2008 Nissan Xterra is perfect for budget-minded SUV buyers who want a high degree of off-road ability but not at the expense of daily driver usability and comfort.

Vehicle overview

The 2008 Nissan Xterra is an SUV that's made to go off-road. That may seem like an obvious statement, but today's SUV shopper faces an ever-expanding mix of traditional truck-based models and car-based crossover versions. The Xterra is all truck, and that makes it very capable when the pavement ends. In short, the Xterra is an SUV for buyers who like the crunch of gravel under their tires.

On four-wheel-drive models, the Xterra's off-road prowess comes thanks to 9.5 inches of ground clearance and underbody components that are neatly tucked above the frame. There's also a rear differential that locks at the push of a button and, as with any true off-roader, ultralow gearing. Electronic Hill Descent control can keep the Xterra's speed in check when moving down those steep hills, and Hill Start Assist keeps you from rolling backward if you come to a stop going up a steep hill.

On the pavement, the 2008 Nissan Xterra is not as refined as the latest crossover SUVs. But its ride is decent enough that using it every day won't try your patience. Even long road trips are feasible and comfortable. The Xterra's rack-and-pinion steering is precise, and its 4.0-liter V6 provides a satisfying amount of power. A soft brake pedal feel is the vehicle's only significant driving weakness.

This isn't to say it's an ideal choice for everybody. If your idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel without room service, the Xterra might not be for you. You'd probably be better off with a car-based crossover SUV like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. And competitors like the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited offer their own set of advantages. But if you crave adventure and need an affordable vehicle that does well on and off the blacktop, the Nissan Xterra is an excellent choice.

2008 Nissan Xterra models

Buyers of the midsize, five-passenger 2008 Nissan Xterra 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 comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, remote keyless entry and a CD player. The S adds alloy wheels, step rails, a multiadjustable driver seat and an easy-to-clean cargo area with enhanced tie-down points.

The Xterra Off-Road model includes high-performance gas shock absorbers, off-road tires on special wheels, skid plates, a locking rear differential and a fold-flat front passenger seat. The SE loses the Off-Road's hard-core equipment but adds 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded interior trim, Bluetooth, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a nine-speaker 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system (with MP3 capability, an auxiliary jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls). Most of the SE's extra equipment can be added to the Off-Road trim as part of the Technology Package.

2008 Highlights

The 2008 Nissan Xterra gets only a few trim upgrades this year. Mechanically, the truck remains unchanged. X models now get standard power features, remote keyless entry and cruise control. There's also a new Technology Package featuring Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio pre-wiring (automatic-transmission models only), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system.

Performance & mpg

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. On all models except the SE, a six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. For the SE, the automatic is standard and the manual is optional. In testing, we've found that a 4WD Xterra can do zero to 60 in a quick 7.6 seconds.

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. Fuel economy for a 4WD 2008 Xterra stands at 16 mpg city, 20 highway. The city mileage estimate drops to 14 mpg when it's equipped with an automatic transmission.


All Xterras come equipped with stability control and antilock disc brakes. Side-impact airbags (for front occupants) and full-length side curtain airbags are optional. Four-wheel-drive Xterras also have Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist.

In government crash testing, the 2008 Nissan Xterra earned four out of five stars for its protection of front occupants in head-on impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a five-star rating for both front and rear outboard occupants. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Xterra earned a "Good" rating -- the highest possible for frontal offset crash protection. In side impact crash tests the Xterra earned a "Good" rating as well; however, that goes down to "Marginal" without the optional side airbags.


With 261 hp under the hood, the 2008 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 doesn't deliver the sharp handling or refined ride that a car-based crossover SUV would, but it's an acceptable trade-off given the Xterra's above-average ability off-road. The Xterra's rugged enthusiasm for conquering trails is due mainly to the engine's low-end grunt, the generous ground clearance and the ample wheel articulation.


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 (on all but the X trim) 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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Nissan Xterra.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
After major disappointment with my previous 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee, I turned to Nissan's Xterra, and will never turn back. In the 5-1/2 years that I've owned mine I've had no trouble other than a cracked in-tire air pressure sensor, but that's it. Drives great, super in snow and weather, dependable, trustworthy and comfortable. I needed something able to get through IA blizzard conditions; this baby does it! Have 113K miles on her (80% highway), and plan on keeping "Bear" for at least double that! No regrets whatsoever; I highly recommend Nissan for quality, performance, strength and durability. Leaves Jeep floundering in the dust, let me tell you that! *Update* It is now 2016, and the Xterra has 146K miles on her. Still going strong at eight years old! Replaced a rear wheel wheel assembly when mine loosened and eventually forced the ABS to kick in all the time, but that's it.
Off road ready, but still stock
Bought certified 2 years ago, Our Xterra has seen dirt, water, and 110 on it's speedometer. We had no problems driving it on light offroad courses, and it's big enough to seat 4 in the back (please dont do it though!) The MPG's aren't too good, but it's good enough for what it is. Surprised at it's speed, though, since it outsprints most family sedans to 60, and the 21+ gallon tank will last you 350-ish miles. Biggest problem are the rear seats. The front ones are soft, and big, but the rear bench feels just like that. a park bench. don't spend more than 4 hours in the back of it, or your back will hurt.
Great Truck
X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M)
I purchased mine in 2009 with 17000 Miles on it. Today I am at 174000 miles and still going strong. Not best fuel economy but with 4wd, that is what you expect. Only repairs have been bad bearings on front. Aside from that all routine maintenance. Just replaced the full suspension recently and the ride is much better now. The older it get, the move vibrations you feel, but mainly over 70 mph. Really vibrates after 80 mph, tried wheel balancing several time, breaks and alignments, but i think it is just its age now. Would recommend the truck, but am hoping they redesign soon before i buy another car. I am looking at 4 runners due to much better fuel economy on 4wd versions.
CA in TX
CA in TX,02/14/2018
S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 6M)
Research SMOD before buying this year model. If it's been taken care of, or has not happened, just put in a new radiator and you should be good to go for quite some time. Timing chain guides start wearing out around 125k and is an expensive endeavor. Never been stranded by this vehicle, and love the abilities. More functional aftermarket stereos are easy to add, giving you some of the newer technology. My technology rating is 5 star because I added a $300 Pioneer head unit and have the best of all those features (Apple CarPlay, hands-free talk, navigation, etc). Down in South Texas, I have no rust. Recently had to do valve cover gaskets and cam position sensor. The heater core hose plastics seem to deteriorate at around 8-10 years. It's easy and inexpensive to fix that if you catch it before it breaks. Vehicle has good power, and is pretty nimble. As of 10/2019 there was a failure on the rear differential. While the vehicle still drove, it was becoming noisy, and the rear axle felt as though it was dragging. Entire assembly was replaced by dealership at a pricey $2900, but it drives like a new car now. At 12 years old now, I think some of these issues come with the territory. Still happy overall with my Xterra and no plans to part with it.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Nissan Xterra features & specs


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
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 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
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Nissan Xterra

Used 2008 Nissan Xterra Overview

The Used 2008 Nissan Xterra is offered in the following submodels: Xterra SUV. Available styles include S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), Off-Road 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), X 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M), Off-Road 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M), S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M), X 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 6M), and S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Nissan Xterra?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Nissan Xterra trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Nissan Xterra S is priced between $4,700 and$7,299 with odometer readings between 126000 and200000 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Nissan Xterras are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Nissan Xterra for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2008 Xterras listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,700 and mileage as low as 126000 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Nissan Xterra.

Can't find a used 2008 Nissan Xterras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Xterra for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $18,688.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 2 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $23,929.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Xterra for sale - 12 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $14,771.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 3 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $8,430.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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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