A compact SUV produced by Japanese automaker Nissan launched for the first time in 2000. It is built on Nissan F-Alpha truck platform. The car is basically named after the XTERRA off-road triathlon race series that was sponsored by Nissan until 2006.
The Xterra was launched in North American market in 2000. It was marketed there with a slogan saying “Everything you need, nothing you don’t.” Nissan designed the Xterra with an aim to target the adventurous and outdoor enthusiasts, though the fan base of Xterra consists of people from all ages, incomes, lifestyles and genders. In many commercial ads, the vehicle is driven through mud, unloading mountain bikes from the back or packing up surfing equipment.
Prior to Xterra, Nissan already produced some SUVs including Nissan Mistral (Japan) and Nissan Terrano (Europe), a 2-ddor compact SUV (1993-2006).
The raised roofline and the hump-backed rear gate are the two designing features that are retained throughout Xterra life. The raised roofline offers stadium seating, while the hump provides space for a first aid kit. Keeping their design tradition alive, Nissan mounted the rear door handles on the C pillar similar to the 1986 Nissan Pathfinder.
The Xterra debuted in the United States as an entry-level SUV before the launch of Nissan Rogue in 2008. As for price, the Nissan Xterra ranked between the Rogue and the Murano. It is a step below to the Rogue for its size.
In China, an SUV named the Nissan Paladin is produced by Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile Co., Ltd. The Paladin shares its chassis and running gears with the first generation Xterra, however, it uses a 2.5-L diesel engine combined with a 5-speed manual transmission. Its front end resembles a locally built Pickup.
First Generation (WD22; 2000-2004)
The first generation Xterra was launched in 2000. There were three models produced during the first two year of its production, including a luxury SE and two XE models. The base XE model featured a 143 hp (107 kW) KA24DE I4 engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission as well as steel wheels. No step rails and roof rack was offered.
A range of optional packages were available for the high performance XE that added 170 hp 3.3-L CG33E V6 engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission along with other features like roof rack, side step-rails and carpeted floor-mats.
The premium SE trim had all the standard features of XE along with several other optional features. The distinctive feature between the two was the presence of a flip-up sunroof and ‘SE’ badging on the rear of the premium SE model. A lot of optional features were available at dealerships including: mudflaps, cargo liners, and in-cabin ventilation microfilters.
In 2002, the Xterra was revised and changes were made in dashboard and center console. Its powerplant was also enhanced along with front end styling. The previous 3.3-L VG33E V6 engine was upgraded to 180 hp (134 kW). A supercharged VG33ER with a 210 hp (157) was taken from the Nissan Frontier (2001) achieving torque of 246 lb-ft (334 Nm) with the automatic and 231 lb-ft (313 Nm) with a 5-speed manual transmission.
The revised work on Xterra front end was skillfully grafted on to untouched bodywork. More options were introduced such as side-curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system in 2003.
Second Generation (N50; 2005–Present)
The second generation Xterra was completely revised and introduced in 2005. It was based on the Nissan F-Alpha platform that it shared with Nissan Titan and Frontier. This redesigned model is larger in all dimensions than the previous one. A rear differential locker is offered on an off-road model. It is powered by a 4.0-L CQ40DE engine with variable valve timing and delivers 265 hp (198 kW).
A facelift model was introduced in 2009 that came with additional options and color choices. The SE models received leather seats and roof mounted lights on all off-road models. In 2008, the unibody based Nissan Rogue replaced the Nissan Xterra in Mexico. The Xterra was discontinued in Mexico because Nissan’s intentions of freeing capacity at its Smyrna plant for 2009 Suzuki Equator. Both X-Trail and Xterra are now sold in the markets outside the United States and Canada, despite the fact that X-Trail was marketed in Canada in 2005-06 together with Xterra. But the Nissan Rogue took the place of X-Trail in Canada in 2006.