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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Good," frontal-offset and side impact
Four stars, front impact; five stars, side impact; three stars, rollover rating
All Xterras come equipped with stability control and antilock disc brakes
The 2009 Nissan Xterra increases its safety rating with the addition of standard curtain side-impact airbags and a new rollover sensor.
The 2009 Nissan Xterra earns the highest possible rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): "good," for frontal offset impacts and for side-impact protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government agency responsible for issuing crash safety ratings, gives the Nissan 2009 Xterra four out of a possible five stars for occupant protection during front impacts, while the Xterra receives a full five stars for side impact occupant protection. The one lagging score is the rollover rating, where the Xterra scores only three out of five stars.
Some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, including the one by Cars.com, note that "despite the fact that the Xterra has active head restraints—which are designed to decrease the chance of whiplash in a rear-end collision—the SUV received a Poor overall score in an IIHS rear crash test."
The 2009 Nissan Xterra comes equipped with all the expected safety features, along with some extras for the off-road bunch. Kelley Blue Book notes that "the Xterra Off Road model includes electronic Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist.” And Edmunds reviewers state that "all Xterras come equipped with stability control and antilock disc brakes.” Other standard safety features as listed by Cars.com include "electronic brake-force distribution, an electronic stability system and active head restraints for the front seats."
Car and Driver, in particular, raves about the "unimpeded view from commanding driving position" offered by the 2009 Nissan Xterra. However, ConsumerGuide claims "visibility is hampered by the rear roof styling and wide-base windshield wipers.”
With the addition of standard curtain side-impact airbags, the 2009 Nissan Xterra has a competitive feature set.