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2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

4dr XE 4WD V6 Auto

Starting at | Starting at 15 MPG City - 19 MPG Highway

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  • $21,749 original MSRP
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2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

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2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

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2000 Nissan Xterra

Source: New Car Test Drive

by Sam Moses

Back-to-basics SUV: Functional, tough and affordable.

Base Price $17,349
As Tested $24,556

It's ironic how things sometimes come full circle. For the last few years, the direction of SUV design has been toward car-like comfort and handling. But now, Nissan boasts that the main virtue of the new Xterra is that it travels back to SUV roots. Meaning, it's more truck-like. The marketing euphemism is "rugged." Considering the target market, rugged is good.

But reasonably priced is better. Intended buyers include kayakers, skiers, mountain bikers, climbers and windsurfers, people who have been known to place the spiritual value of outdoor recreation over the material rewards of career. Scheduling your career around, say, fresh powder isn't the quickest way to financial wealth so car payments need to be kept in check.

Model Lineup

There are two Xterra models, XE and SE, and three option packages: Sport, Power and Utility.

The base $17,349 4x2 XE comes with the 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. You can't get four-wheel drive with the four-banger. The optional 3.3-liter V6 raises the XE to $18,499, or $20,499 for the 4x4 XE.

The $22,549 two-wheel-drive SE comes standard with the V6. The 4x4 SE lists for $24,549. A four-speed automatic adds $1,000.

The base XE offers ruggedness, but not much else. All the really neat stuff is in the option packages and accessories: By adding packages you could create an XE virtually the same as an SE. But this quickly raises the price. A $999 XE Utility Package is needed for the roof rack, tubular step rails, first-aid kit, big tires, rear wipers and other goodies. Alloy wheels are $599. The SE comes with this stuff, but accessories such as the slick two-bike rack, the neoprene seat covers and tow hitch cost extra.

Walkaround

It was surprising how much attention our Xterra attracted. But maybe not, considering the test took place in and around Hood River, Oregon, a small town offering so much environment that it that draws kayakers, windsurfers, hikers, climbers, both Alpine and Nordic skiers, mountain bikers, fishermen and even cowboys. And on this week, coincidentally, it drew the XTERRA America Tour, an off-road triathlon series sponsored by Nissan to expose the Xterra. Actually, the triathlon came before the truck. Nissan liked the name-borne of earth, terrain, adventure-so they licensed the rights to use it. Lots of people walked around our Aztec Red machine (and even more would have noticed, had it been Solar Yellow). Nearly all of them thought it was cool.

The Xterra does have a rugged visual distinction. The thick tubular aluminum roof rack with black airfoil, matching step rails, stout fender flares, handsome alloy wheels, beefy charcoal grille and wraparound front bumper with big radiator vents and recessed halogen fog lights, vertical handles on the trailing edge of the rear doors, and finally the two-tiered roof with a tall square back having a bulge in the tailgate for the first aid kit. If they had crawled underneath, they would have seen the skid plates (standard) under the engine and fuel tank.

Our own walkaround included a step up -- and fall back. The tall, flat rear bumper with gripped surface makes a perfect stand for reaching the roof rack, but it's difficult to get up on, because there is no grab handle. If you're tall enough, you can hang onto the rear corner of the rack from the side of the vehicle and swing yourself up, but only rock climbers will love it. Kayakers will hate it. In the same vein: the optional removable plastic gear basket at the front of the rack is an excellent idea (think of sloppy ski or hiking boots), but there's no net to cover it -- that's another accessory you have to buy.

Interior Features

The cabin is relatively, appropriately, spartan. Blessedly simple switchgear: rotary knobs, not tiny buttons and digital displays, and no more of them than you need. The air conditioning is super, the six-speaker CD satisfying. The horn is tinny but strong -- it gets the job done, and makes a no-frills statement.

The manually adjusted driver's seating position feels right, in relation to the correctly sized leather-wrapped steering wheel (tilt is an option), which contains thumb buttons for cruise control. The cloth-only bucket seats fit well and provide good lumbar support; we made one five-hour freeway run with no aches. We also took Xterra windsurfing, and missed the cool accessory seat covers made of wetsuit material.

The roof is raised over the rear seats to allow for their elevation, which is good because with a nice view through the windshield, back-seat passengers might not notice how little legroom exists -- an inch less than the smaller Toyota RAV4. Because it's built on the Frontier pickup truck platform, Xterra's engineers must have been challenged to squeeze everything in, while providing the good 65.6 cubic feet of cargo space. When the 50-50 rear seatbacks are folded down, the seat bottoms must be removed. So, depending on circumstance, you either leave them in your garage or they become loose cargo of their own. At least they are featherweight. Nice cabin details (some standard, some optional) include solid cupholders, two power outlets, side window demisters and rear heat ducts, smart storage crannies, as many as 10 cargo hooks on floor and ceiling, and a strap on the tailgate to close it from the inside.

Driving Impressions

Thanks to high-tech sound insulation in places not normally insulated, Xterra is very quiet at freeway speeds, although with the throttle floored the SOHC six gets pretty loud. And, despite the airfoil's deflection of wind from the luggage rack, the interior hisses in the wind. The vehicle also sways at gusts, and leans in curves, not surprising given its height and boxiness: The Xterra is taller (and longer) than a Jeep Cherokee. That big vertical rear window provides excellent visibility, but it gathers dust and dirt like crazy. The rear wiper/washer is an option, but it really is not an option.

The Xterra is very nimble at slower speeds, feeling lighter than its 4,130 pounds, which may be its friendliest trait. A close second is the straight-line ride, on the backs of 10 individually tuned dual-rate rubber chassis mounts--no harshness at all here. At the same time, the Frontier's ladder chassis is certainly strong. But the suspension takes bumps--including a great job on washboard gravel roads--much better than it takes dips, which deliver a drop-out-from-under-you feeling. And the side-to-side sway is serious over rutted and potholed dirt roads.

The front suspension is double wishbone, the rear has leaf springs with a solid axle, and the power steering is by recirculating ball. The steering lacks on-center feel. Driving in a straight line, you can (not that you would) twitch the steering wheel back and forth in an arc as much as 30 degrees, and you get no real direction change, only a quick little rocking. In a real circumstance on a curvy road, the effect is a slightly floaty, lagging turn-in. Of course, this might be tuned into the steering by design; this delayed response might actually be a comfort zone, to some.

Power-wise, the 170-horspower six, with 200 foot-pounds of torque at 2800 rpm, is, well, at 16 city and 19 highway miles per gallon, you might expect more acceleration, most noticeably on freeway on-ramps. It makes us wonder if the 16-valve DOHC four, with 143 horses and a five-speed pulling about 600 fewer pounds, and rated at 19 and 24 mpg, might not offer more value.

But the four-speed automatic transmission gets high marks, shifting up and down with complete smoothness, and its electronic calibration avoids hunting on hills. The four-wheel anti-lock brakes felt fine, although we thought that there might be discs at the rear, and they're still drums.

Final Word

Irony brought us in, irony takes us out. Nissan built the Xterra because outdoor gearheads need racks, baskets, water-resistant seatcovers, first-aid kits. All of which are available in the aftermarket--cheaper and just as functional as Xterra accessories. (Well, maybe roof-mounted gear baskets with airfoils aren't buyable, but that's what plastic milk cartons are for.) But if you want a basic rugged SUV that's not cushy, tiny, expensive or a Cherokee, one that has the cachet of new and different yet is proven under the skin, then it's definitely worth exploring to see how much you can get of what you need, without defeating that low-cost purpose. Or, if the value to you is in being cool, go for it.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Opt
Variable Inter. Wipers Opt
Printable Version

2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Nissan Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

7-year/100,000 mile limited warranty. Only Nissan models less than 6 years old and under 80,000 miles qualify for the Nissan Certified Pre-Owned program. The CARFAX® Vehicle History Report ensures your vehicle has a clean title history.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 model years or newer & less than 80,000 miles.
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 167 point comprehensive Certified Pre-Owned Inspection and reconditioning. Inspection includes OEM service bulletins and recalls, diagnostic trouble codes, powertrain/chassis, body frame, road test, interior and body exterior.
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes for the duration of the 7 year/100,000 mile limited warranty from the original in-service date of the vehicle.
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty No/Yes with the purchase of the CPO Wrap Coverage at time of sale. Fee to transfer is estimated to be $50
Warranty Deductible $50 per claim

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

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2000 Nissan Xterra Sport Utility

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