Shopping for a new Nissan Xterra?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Offers brisk performance on the street
Stiff suspension tuning isn't ideal for a long road trip
Insatiable appetite for all things dirty and boulder-strewn
Kelley Blue Book
Impressions of the overall performance on the 2008 Nissan Xterra vary widely depending on the type of driving you are doing. The 2008 Nissan Xterra is a supremely capable off-road machine, but some of its driving characteristics when returning to the rest of civilization are hardly civilized.
The 2008 Nissan Xterra doesn't offer much in the way of engine choices, as Edmunds notes "all Nissan Xterra models feature a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque," which they say are "generous figures for this class." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate a strong appreciation for the capabilities of the V-6 that rests under the hood of the Nissan Xterra, and Cars.com reviewers write that it "is a strong performer" that "can accelerate the Xterra with surprising quickness." ConsumerGuide agrees that low-speed performance is commendable, but they find that "passing at highway speeds can be a bit labored."
The singular V-6 that powers all of the Nissan 2008 Xterras is coupled with a pair of transmission options. Edmunds says that, "on all models except the SE, a six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional," while on the SE, "the automatic is standard and the manual is optional." Most reviewers are impressed with the transmissions available on the Nissan Xterra, and Motor Trend, in particular, raves about the "exceptional" gearing in the manual that, "when combined with the clutch defeat and locking differential" in the Off-Road trim, "is almost unstoppable." Cars.com adds, "the automatic is also impressive," and finds that it "exhibits negligible lag."
In addition to the transmission options, ConsumerGuide writes that "S, S, and SE offer rear-wheel drive or part-time 4-wheel drive," while the "Off-Road models are 4WD only." Several features included with the stability control system--Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist--use electronics to help maintain poise on precarious situations. Physically, the 2008 Nissan Xterra has very impressive off-road credentials, with 9.5 inches of ground clearance and an approach angle of more than 33 degrees.
The 2008 Nissan Xterra is thirsty, but not anything out of the ordinary for its class. The EPA estimates that the 2008 Nissan Xterra will return 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway as a 2WD automatic, while the numbers change to 16/20 mpg as a 2WD manual, 14/20 mpg in 4WD mode with the automatic, and 16/20 mpg in 4WD mode with a manual transmission.
For all of the exceptional capabilities of the Nissan's 2008 Xterra, some complaints are bound to surface when a vehicle that is designed to be taken off-road moves onto the pavement. ConsumerGuide notices that the "Xterra's off-road-ready suspension and short wheelbase make the ride choppy except on the smoothest roads," and "there's some truck-like bounding over even moderate humps and ruts." Aside from ride quality, however, the Nissan Xterra exhibits "solid steering feel and a lack of excessive body roll," according to Edmunds reviewers, who add that the rough ride is "an acceptable trade-off given the Xterra's above-average ability off-road."
For other driving impressions, Kelley Blue Book offers that their experience in the Nissan Xterra shows it "handles even higher-speed sweeping turns as calmly and confidently as a solid sedan." Unfortunately, one more ding against the Nissan Xterra appears when you try to end your drive, as Car and Driver writes that the Xterra has a "mushy brake pedal," and ConsumerGuide says "stopping control is unexceptional."
The 2008 Nissan Xterra is perfectly at home off-road, but on-road driving performance suffers as a result.