2011 Nissan Xterra Photo
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On Performance
$10,999 - $23,999
On Performance
Excellent off-road ability comes somewhat at the expense of on-road handling in the 2011 Xterra, but powertrain performance is strong.
7.0 out of 10
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

The 4.0L V-6 pulls strong at all altitudes and in virtually any gear
Four Wheeler

a real two-speed transfer case, though it is operated by a simple electronic switch rather than a manual gear selector
Motor Trend

Steering is direct and decently weighted
Winding Road

The Xterra jumps off the line enthusiastically, with the V6 pulling consistently up to its 6,250-rpm redline.

five-speed automatic transmission's hesitance to downshift on demand

The 2011 Xterra comes with a very torquey engine—a 261-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6, mated to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission—and either combination is well-suited for off-roading or truck-caliber hauling. The smooth-shifting automatic transmission works particularly well with the engine, providing strong performance at low speeds but only adequate passing power.

The Xterra is built on the Frontier pickup's platform, with a solid axle and leaf springs in back but a multilink setup in front for more responsive handling; overall, it's by no means nimble, but it does better on the road than its tall appearance might suggest.

All four Xterra models are available in four-wheel drive, and all but the Off-Road edition are available with rear-wheel drive. The Xterra makes a lot of sense as a 4x4, as it offers 9.5 inches of ground clearance and an approach angle of more than 33 degrees. The available four-wheel-drive system is a part-time, off-road-oriented setup, with high and low ranges. Additionally, several features that are included with the optional stability control system, such as Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, use electronics to help maintain poise in precarious situations.


Excellent off-road ability comes somewhat at the expense of on-road handling in the 2011 Xterra, but powertrain performance is strong.

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