The navy blue exterior and the graphite interior complement each other well giving it a modern look. The sculpted fenders over both sets of wheels look like they’re on steroids and look out of place. If memory serves, I think this type of fender first appeared on the Nissan Armada (a much larger vehicle) and look appropriate for that vehicle. On the Xterra, they look like high shoulders attached to the sides. I like the dark plastic cladding found at all four corners. They give it a rather clean look while offering protection from scratches and dents. The rear ones have integrated steps for reaching the roof rack which is a nice feature. The tubular roof rack and integrated storage smooth the transition between the windshield and roof adding a bit of ruggedness to the side profile.
As a utility vehicle, the Xterra excels. I was amazed at how much stuff I could stuff in it and having a completely flat floor allowed me to push tall items all the way forward rather than limiting them to only the cargo area. I could totally see this as a vehicle to go camping or to Tahoe having so much storage as well as the 4WD capability. There’s also lots of storage in the door pockets and the rear cargo area can easily hold the gear of two couples for a weekend. As a daily driver, gas mileage was low: for the 350 miles that I drove, I averaged only 17-mpg. At 165 miles, I had already used up half of the 21 gallon tank. The sticker price on $30.7k seems a bit high if you are looking at a 4Runner (about the same price) or Highlander (albeit a bit smaller size).
Overall, I really enjoyed my few days in the Nissan. It’s a comfortable daily commuter with a HVAC system that heats and cools quickly but it is handicapped by poor gas mileage. The EPA ratings are 15 city/20 highway, and I was smack dab in the middle. Thank goodness prices for gas have come down, otherwise tanking up at the height of gas prices would have been an $80-$90 expense each time. If you haul a lot of stuff around consistently, then you should consider this vehicle as it will not disappoint. The rugged interior surfaces will last a long time and take a lot of abuse while the built-in roof rack will be handy for hauling long items. With a rear hatch that swings up and out of the way, loading stuff into the rear was easy. If I had the extra money for a weekend getaway vehicle, I would definitely consider the Xterra (having not yet tested the 4Runner) for its good looks, modern-hassle-free interior, and the flexible storage options.
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