2012 Nissan Xterra Photo

2012 Nissan Xterra - Performance Review

 Get email updates
What will I get by subscribing to email updates?

At The Car Connection we are continually striving to get you timely, relevant information about the vehicle you are interested in. Our email updates will notify you whenever we have new information on this vehicle.

For example:

  • new car reviews for this model by our editors
  • news including price changes, new models, or recall info
  • new incentives and rebates that are being offered for this vehicle

Our goal is to keep you informed as you research!
Interested in purchasing?Browse Used Listings
/ 10
On Performance
On Performance
Strong six-cylinder power and great off-road capability are granted with the Nissan Xterra; on-road handling is decent.
7.0 out of 10
Browse Nissan Xterra inventory in your area.


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

There's only one engine offered in the Xterra, and it's a strong one. It's a 4.0-liter version of the company's mainstay six; in this application, it puts out 261 horsepower, which give the relatively lightweight Xterra considerable zip off the line. With either the five-speed automatic or the standard six-speed manual, the drivetrain has a well-sorted feel, set up ideally for the kind of low-speed grunt work its owners probably have in mind. We're particularly inclined toward the automatic here, since its gears are spaced a bit better to take advantage of the engine's adequate passing power.

Sophisticated isn't what you'd call the Xterra's suspension, but it's built with rugged driving in mind. It's an independent setup in front, with leaf springs and a solid rear axle in back, which creates dueling personalities. The Xterra rides quite smoothly most of the time, though it does have a split personality, showing a harsh and pitchy side on the bumpiest roads. 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.



Strong six-cylinder power and great off-road capability are granted with the Nissan Xterra; on-road handling is decent.

« Prev: Interior / Exterior Next: Comfort and Quality »
Other Choices Read More
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area

How does the
TCC Rating work?
The TCC Rating is a clear numeric rating value based on a 10-point scale that reflects the overall opinion of our automotive experts on any vehicle and rolls up ratings we give each vehicle across sub-categories you care about like performance, safety, styling and more.

Our rating also has simple color-coded “Stop” (red), “Caution” (orange),
or “Go” (green) messages along with the numerical score so you can easily understand where we stand at a glance.

Our automotive experts then also collect and show you what other websites say about these different aspects of any vehicle. We do this leg work for you to simplify your research process.

Learn more about how we rate and review cars here.

More From High Gear Media

© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC. Send us feedback.