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Avg. Price Paid:$17,138 - $21,055
Original MSRP: $25,480 - $31,690
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2012 Nissan Xterra Review

Review Last Updated: 10/10/13

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

Most reviewers say the 2012 Nissan Xterra is an excellent off-road SUV, though its good performance off-road is combined with a truck-like on-road ride and poor fuel economy.

Test drivers think the 2012 Nissan Xterra is a great off-road vehicle, though it can’t match the Jeep Wrangler. With a truck-based platform, the Xterra’s on-road performance isn’t as smooth as crossovers in the class like the Honda CR-V and GMC Terrain, but most critics like that its on-road ride is surprisingly pleasant for a rugged SUV. As an off-road vehicle, there are a few more sacrifices buyers must make. Fuel economy is poor, and gets even worse with the Xterra’s optional four-wheel drive. The interior is also far from luxurious, but that shouldn’t matter for shoppers who plan on getting the Xterra dirty and need an interior that is easy to clean.

While the Xterra isn’t perfect, test drivers like it for what it is: a more-than-competent off-road vehicle that can survive in the real world.

Other Off-Road SUVs to Consider

If your heart is set on an off-road SUV, also consider the Jeep Wrangler. It’s the SUV reviewers compare the Xterra with most often, and they say the Wrangler is by far the better option. Available in two- or four-door body styles, the Wrangler is an American icon that reviewers say is an even stronger off-roader than the Xterra. This year, the Wrangler has a new Pentastar engine, and test drivers say it’s even better than before because the Wrangler is more capable both on- and off-road.

Though the GMC Terrain doesn’t have the off-road chops the Xterra has, it is a better choice for commuting to work and picking up the kids from soccer practice. With the Terrain, shoppers will also get good cargo space, comfortable rear seats and a truck-like exterior.

Details: Nissan Xterra

The 2012 Xterra comes in several trims: X, S and PRO-4X. All come in either two- or four-wheel drive, with the exception of the PRO-4X, which is only available with 4WD. Changes for 2012 are very minor. There are two new exterior colors: metallic blue and brilliant silver. See the full list of 2012 Nissan Xterra specs.

  • "The … Nissan Xterra may lack the funky styling and unique features of its off-roading competitors, but it's the easiest to live with on those days when you're not rock-crawling and mud-splashing." -- Edmunds
  • "Xterra is slightly smaller than most in the midsize-SUV class, hence the somewhat-tight interior space. Its off-road orientation accounts for subpar ride comfort, and its backwoods-ready avoidance of luxury touches makes it seem relatively unrefined. Indeed, its main appeal is that rugged demeanor, cargo versatility, and youthful attitude." -- Consumer Guide
  • "If your idea of rugged adventuring is driving over snow-covered roads to reach the local ski resort, a Subaru Forester or Dodge Journey may be a more comfortable choice and offer better fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Xterra's rough ride, dated interior, low gas mileage, and poor emissions ratings leave much to be desired." -- CNET

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