2013 Nissan Xterra Review

Pros & Cons

  • Serious off-road prowess
  • innovative cargo features
  • most livable truck in its class.
  • Unimpressive interior design and materials
  • poor fuel economy relative to similarly priced crossovers.
List Price Estimate
$8,906 - $11,357

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Even though the 2013 Nissan Xterra doesn't have the funky styling or legendary brand name of its off-road-ready SUV competitors, it's still plenty capable in the dirt and a lot easier to live with in everyday driving.

Vehicle overview

Even as most consumers move away from old-school truck-based SUVs, there's still a place for rugged go-anywhere models like the 2013 Nissan Xterra. While it's true that the midsize Xterra isn't the most refined vehicle on the road, there's no denying its suitability for its intended purpose.

With its solid body-on-frame design, available four-wheel-drive system, stout suspension and room for four passengers and their gear, the Xterra is ideal for people who use their vehicles for a lot of outdoor recreation. Whether it's rock climbing, skiing or fishing at the lake, the Xterra will almost certainly get you and your equipment there without breaking a sweat.

There are downsides, of course. For purely urban use, the Xterra's somewhat truckish ride and handling are liabilities. So is its interior, which is pretty underwhelming even with the minor updates this year. Then there's the Xterra's fuel economy, which will likely be in the mid-teens for most people.

That said, the Xterra's two main competitors aren't exactly stellar in these areas either. The 2013 Jeep Wrangler is ultimately more capable off-road than the Xterra and enjoys greater support for aftermarket performance parts, but it's even less comfortable. The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser has distinctive looks on its side, but its small, reverse-opening rear doors reduce practicality.

Meanwhile, buyers simply looking for greater peace of mind in bad weather would be wise to consider any of the latest generation of all-wheel-drive, car-based SUVs. Something like the 2013 Subaru Forester can still handle light-duty trails while also providing better driving manners. That said, if serious off-road capability is high on your list of must-haves, the 2013 Nissan Xterra deserves a look.

2013 Nissan Xterra models

The 2013 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, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cruise control, a 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, a cargo organization system and an upgraded sound system with auxiliary audio input/USB jacks and satellite radio. 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, Bilstein shock absorbers, skid plates and unique 16-inch alloy wheels with upgraded off-road tires. It also has automatic headlights, 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), outside temperature display, a navigation system with rearview camera, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with a six-CD changer 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.

2013 Highlights

The 2013 Nissan Xterra gets a few updates, including a new audio system with auxiliary audio/USB inputs and satellite radio for S models. The top Pro-4X trim level gets automatic headlights, fancier upholstery, an outside temperature display and a navigation system with rearview camera.

Performance & mpg

The 2013 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.

Safety

The 2013 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-road-oriented 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.

Driving

With 261 hp on tap, the 4.0-liter V6 under the hood of the 2013 Nissan Xterra gives it plenty of pick-up in everyday use. The engine also develops plenty of torque, which is an asset when tackling slow-speed off-road obstacles.

The combination of rugged body-on-frame design, generous ground clearance, a long-travel suspension and a low-range transfer case only add to the Xterra's sure-footedness when the pavement ends. On the road, the ride and handling are rather trucklike, especially in Pro-4X models. But we suspect buyers looking for this level of off-road capability will find it more tolerable than the average SUV shopper.

Interior

Like the rest of the vehicle, the interior of the 2013 Nissan Xterra has a rough-n-ready vibe. There are lots of hard plastic surfaces which, in a vehicle like this, are actually something of a positive, as it makes everything easier to clean after a long day on the trail. Everything else shows a similarly practical bent, with straightforward gauges and controls. While everything is perfectly serviceable here, keep in mind that most car-based crossover SUVs will offer nicer accommodations along with a more extensive list of creature comforts.

When it comes to hauling gear instead of people, the Xterra shines with a cargo hold boasting nice touches like built-in storage spots for items like a first aid kit and multiple tie-down points for securing your load. Behind the rear seats there are 35 cubic feet of cargo space, which can be expanded to 66 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. The standard fold-flat front passenger seat on Pro-4X models makes it possible to squeeze in long items with the rear liftgate closed, and oversize or muddy gear can be toted up on top with the beefy roof rack and gear basket.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2013 Nissan Xterra.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2008 Xterra Experience
suzuski,10/03/2013
S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
Bought an 18' runabout w/ trailer so traded-in a 2004 RAV4 for a used (14kmi) Xterra in 2008. Couldn't be happier. Plenty of power and tows very well. Mileage? Average 19mpg with 16 the lowest and 24 the highest. Very practical load carrying. RAV4 very noisy. When I rep laced the tires I didn't care about longevity and asked for the quietest tires available. The Xterra has very little road noise. Interior is basic with little gingerbread, thus no trim to fall off or rattle. I'm a Zen kind of guy and wish to keep things simple. There is only 63000 miles on it but when it comes time to buy a new car I'll seriously consider another Xterra (assuming Nissan stills builds them). Sold the Xterra in August of 2017 and immediately regretted it but after over 8 years of ownership it was time. It had just over 100k miles on it. Excellent exterior finish and the durable interior fabrics were close to new. Even though Nissan no longer produces them I still briefly considered buying a later model, but chose instead to buy a new car of another make. The Xterra was just the right car for me at the time and would buy one again under the same circumstances.
A little package of dynamite!
Little package of dynamite,07/03/2019
S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I received a 2013 Nissan Xterra "Off Road" 4WD as a birthday gift in 2013. It has been by far the best vehicle i have owned! Living in California you will hardly need your 4WD for snow. However i have rental property in South Lake Tahoe which gets lots of snow. Driving this vehicle on a paved road, dirt road or snow was truely enjoyable. This vehicle never let me down when i was on the road. Other than the normal maintenance I never had to spend extra money getting something fixed! A few years ago I moved to Oregon, Off Grid!! My Xterra was wonderful! Then one day on my way into town on a dirt road, apparently I had a rear tire blowout! I rolled my poor Xterra 4 times! I had my seatbelt on as us usual! I came out of that with not even a scratch, but all of the side airbags deployed! Both passenger and driver side! I miss my Xterra greatly! Bought a new 2016 Jeep Renegade but have been so disappointed in it that I am looking for a used Xterra!!
What a pleasant surprise!
77 going on 45,07/17/2018
X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
A senior, 77, looking for the right mix of comfort, convenience, utility & economy with less gadgetry than most; the xTerra turned out to be a perfect combo. A retired vet, my first ever non US car, totally impressed and sorry to say, shame on US car mfgrs.
This is one great car!!
Gary tate,04/06/2016
X 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I'm not sure what happened to the vehicle in the review that went thru the car wash but this is my second XTerra. First one 2001 and I put 165,000 miles on it in 10 years...the only major repair exhaust manifold ($750) and a clutch slave repair ($500) In Nov 2014 because I heard Nissan was going to eliminate the XTerra I bought a new one - v6 6-speed manual transmission. This thing has sports car performance - speed limit in Colorado is 75...you can downshift from 6th to 5th at 75 with no problems. Off-road and in the snow an XTerra competes with the best of them. I now have 32k on it with no repairs, no maintenance other than oil changes. Solid road car which we drive from Denver to Santa Fe and Taos about twice a year including a long trip to Arkansas. Gas mileage where additives are not present (OK, AR, etc) gets 22-24.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2013 Nissan Xterra features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover24.6%

More about the 2013 Nissan Xterra

Used 2013 Nissan Xterra Overview

The Used 2013 Nissan Xterra is offered in the following submodels: Xterra SUV. Available styles include S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), Pro-4X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), X 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), Pro-4X 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M), and S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Nissan Xterra?

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Which used 2013 Nissan Xterras are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2013 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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