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Nissan Xterra SE V6 4WD (2000)

SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Nissan Full Line Video footage (8:30)

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 25,549
     Price As Tested                                    $ 26,069
     Engine Type              SOHC 12-valve 3.3 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 200 cid/3275 cc
     Horsepower                                   170 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               200 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  104.3"/70.4"/178.0"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4157 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.4 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P265/70R15 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                 55 percent          
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/19/18          
     0-60 MPH                                       11.0 seconds
     Maximum cargo volume (seats down)             65.6 (cu.ft.)
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds

     * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

(The year 2000 has brought a lot of "hybrid" SUVs like the Xterra to the market place states Bob Hagin. His son Matt agreed and stayed busy playing with all the "widgets" the new Nissan Xterra offered.)

MATT - Another new model has rolled out and into the Nissan 2000 line up. Variety has been a common thing among auto makers lately and Nissan is up there with the best of them. The Xterra we tried was the top-line SE with four-wheel-drive and a limited slip differential in the rear for maximum traction. In essence , it is a Nissan Frontier pick-up with room for five and lots of built-in toys. Unlike the unibody Nissan Pathfinder, the Xterra's body rides on a full ladder frame. This makes the Xterra a true off-roader but not a monster like some of the others. Some "refined" SUVs are just tall sedans with four-wheel-drive and not suitable for climbing craggy mountain sides.

BOB - Most people don't go off-road with fancy SUVs and the roughest duty those machines see is to have their four-wheel-drive systems engaged going on snow-covered or icy roads. But the Xterra was built with rough-duty in mind. It's something of a rough-rider and the machine was designed to take advantage of almost every square inch of the interior and the exterior too. I liked the raised rear roof line; it felt less claustrophobic while riding in the rear seat. I like the handy roof rack. It's a sturdy design made of tubular steel with a wind deflector up in front and it has a detachable cargo box up there too. There's a couple of skid plates mounted underneath to protect the undercarriage while the driver's banging around off-road. And for fishermen and other owners who might have to bring grubby stuff inside, Nissan offers washable and waterproof seat covers. The Xterra is like a safari vest with a motor, four-wheel drive and wheels.

MATT - Nissan really cut loose with tricky gadgets. There are a couple of 12-volt outlets for on-demand power for computers and it has lots of little pockets for cell phones and other handy items. The tubular running boards match the roof rack and they make entry and exit easier. Another item I like on an SUV is an automatic locking front hub system. It saves having to pull over every time road conditions change in bad weather to lock or unlock the front hubs. On the 4X4 Xterra, this operation can be done by flipping a short, floor-mounted lever while traveling at highway speeds. Under the hood, it looks a lot like its bigger brother, the Pathfinder. The Xterra we had carried the same 3.3 liter V6 that's been a Nissan standby for years. It still utilizes single cams on each aluminum head with two-valves per cylinder and mounts them on a sturdy iron block. It's getting a bit long in the tooth now and to keep up with the competition, Nissan needs to up the horsepower. It's only 170 but the torque is good at 200 pound-feet and that's plenty for towing. The limit on our tester was a whopping 5000 pounds which makes it more than suitable for towing the average power boat on a trailer.

BOB - The Xterra comes standard with a four cylinder 2.4 liter twin-cam with 16-valves. It puts out 143 horses and only come as a two-wheel drive. No automatic or SE trim is offered on the four-banger but the V6 models can be had a five-speed stick-shift or a four-speed automatic. The independent front suspension is conventional "A" arms on coil springs with a solid rear axle and leaf springs. Our Xterra had anti-sway bars on both ends to keep body roll at a minimum if the driver is moved to "spirited" driving on pavement. I'd like to see Nissan step up to the plate and put disc brake on the rear, at least as an option. Nissan has really designed the Xterra with the outdoorsman in mind. There are some built-in pouches for up to 30 pounds of wet clothes or even a wetsuit. This sounds like the perfect beach cruiser for kids.

MATT - It's also a great camping wagon, Dad. A family can get away from it all and get back to nature in an Xterra.

BOB - I'll pass on that, Matt. My idea of getting back to nature is watching TV documentaries on the wilds of Alaska or maybe one on somebody scaling Half Dome in Yosemite.