in 2012 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $17,295 - $21,580
Original MSRP: $25,480 - $31,690
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2012 Nissan Xterra Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Most reviewers praise the Nissan Xterra for offering plenty of room and a lot of utilitarian features, though it does have an inexpensive feel and look. The base model is pretty basic inside, making it a good option for people with rugged lifestyles.

  • “The overall look is marred somewhat by a rather dull design and the predominant use of hard plastics. But the latter aren't really any worse than what's seen in its off-roading competitors. Should you be less interested in off-roading, any number of compact crossover models feature more comfortable and better-appointed cabins." -- Edmunds  
  • "The interior decor matches Xterra's utilitarian aims, perhaps too much. The dashboard is awash in hard plastic panels that look especially cut-rate. One test model suffered rattling front-door windows and an irritating squeak from the cargo area." -- Consumer Guide


Most test drivers give the 2012 Xterra high marks for ample front and rear legroom, but the praise pretty much ends there. Some find the seats uncomfortable, others find entry and exit difficult and some say rear visibility is poor. Leather-appointed seats are standard on the highest trim only. 

  • "(Front seat) Xterra has good headroom and legroom, though some tall drivers may feel too close to the steering wheel. The seats need more side bolstering to hold passengers in place through turns. They could also use a bit more padding for optimal long-distance comfort. Visibility is hampered by the rear roof styling and wide-base windshield pillars. Step-in is high without the available running boards. … (Rear seat) The rear seat has plenty of headroom and adequate foot space. Legroom is tight with the front seats set far back. The seat cushions are too flat for best comfort. Xterra's tall ride height and narrow door bottoms make entry and exit particularly difficult." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It requires extra effort to climb in the tall Xterra, and the side steps are too narrow to be helpful to those with large shoe sizes, especially when slippery. Narrow rear door openings also hamper entry -- and exit.” -- MSN

Interior Features

Overall, reviewers find the Xterra's controls simple and logically placed. However, those who want a colorful, slick cabin should look elsewhere because the Xterra isn’t fancy. The Jeep Grand Cherokee boasts a higher-quality cabin. The Xterra comes standard with remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, three 12-volt power outlets and a tilt steering column. Optional features include Bluetooth, an auxiliary input jack and satellite radio.

  • "The Xterra's interior controls are easy to use and reach." -- Edmunds
  • "Inside the 2012 Nissan Xterra is a world quite opposite the vehicle's rugged exterior. The tall roof makes for an open and airy cabin, while theater-style raised rear seats allow back-seat passengers an equally good view of the trail ahead. The Xterra's seats are comfortable and supportive, and the dash and instruments are logically arranged with large knobs that are easy to reach and operate while bouncing along unpaved roads." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Though high-set, the audio controls are easy to reach. The climate controls are slightly recessed into the center dashboard stack but aren't difficult to decipher. The steering-wheel cruise and radio controls have tiny black markings on a gray background, rendering them nearly unreadable in most lighting conditions. They have no nighttime back lighting either, so the controls are practically useless unless you've memorized their functions." -- Consumer Guide


Versatile cargo capacity is where the Xterra shines: It provides 65.7 cubic feet with the second row folded down and 36.3 cubic feet with all seats in use. The Xterra also provides more cargo features than most SUVs, including luggage side nets, ceiling hooks, side hooks and under-floor storage in the cargo area. All but the base model also include an Easy Clean cargo area and an Utili-track Cargo Channel System. The Xterra also has a lockable compartment on the roof. There are steps on the rear bumper that make it easier to reach the roof compartment.

  • "All Xterras (except for the base X model) feature cargo areas that have an easy-to-clean floor, as well as sturdy utility hooks mounted to the sides of the floor and ceiling. An innovative channel-type locating system for securing bike racks and gear is also built into the floor." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2012 Nissan Xterra

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