The 2014 Nissan Xterra looks and performs with some machismo, but body-on-frame SUVs don't always do the best job of protecting their passengers in accidents.
However, the Xterra is well-represented in terms of safety equipment. Front active head restraints, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, and side-curtain airbags are all standard, and Xterras with automatic transmission get Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist--two electronic aids that may enhance stability. PRO-4X models also come with a rearview camera system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't recently tested the Xterra, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives it a mix of ratings. The Xterra earns a top 'good' in frontal and side impact tests, but calls it only 'acceptable' for roof strength and 'marginal' for rear-impact safety. And that roof-strength rating is a bit worrisome considering the Xterra's tall center of mass and its ability to perform on precarious terrain.