Back in the year 2000, Nissan hit on a real turn of the century idea. They saw a need for something a bit more rugged than the expensive, deep plush carpeted sport utes on the market. A lot of young folks like to think of themselves as active outdoor types, or at least wanted to look like them, and they needed a vehicle that could take them there.
So, take the dependable Frontier pickup, rip off the body and replace it with a tough looking cabin with all the necessary equipment to take you into the boonies and bring you back. They figured Jeep had had that market to itself for too long.
Never mind that it wasn’t as capable as a Jeep, it looked better and with wind-up windows and an available manual gearbox, it felt like the kind of penalty box of a vehicle that makes you feel like you’re not a complete couch potato.
And it sold like hotcakes. And the new one still does. Only mildly restyled over the years, it still comes with a wonderful Nissan 4-liter V6 pumping out 261 horsepower.
It has skidplates, 17-inch wheels, water resistant upholstery and a loud stereo. That guarantees it will spend at least part of its life with a surfboard or canoe strapped to the roof rack.
As a truck, it’s very good, solid and unflappable. As an off-roader, it is among the best of the crowd right behind the Jeep Wrangler, and that’s high praise indeed.
Priced at around $30,000, our off-road equipped model came with relatively useless roof lights, but don’t they look cool? Mileage isn’t great at 15 city and 20 highway. But who cares when you are styling your way to the lake with the gang.
You can get a tougher off-roader, or a prettier one. But there’s something about the Xterra that feels right…or more importantly…looks right.