Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,300 – $8,100*

2000 Nissan Xterra XE 4WD

2001 Nissan Xterra SE

2000 Nissan Xterra interior

2000 Nissan Xterra SE

2001 Nissan Xterra SE

  • Cargo room
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Ride/handling
  • Wind noise

Though less pleasant for everyday driving than the CR-V and RAV4, an Xterra offers truck toughness and off-road ability, along with V6 power. A V6 Xterra costs less than one of those less roomy 4-cylinder competitors.


Priced against compact models, Nissan’s new midsize sport-utility vehicle was based on the Frontier pickup truck. Designed to appeal to young buyers, who favor function and a rugged appearance over comfort amenities, Xterras came with rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive. The Xterra lineup began with a base XE model, with a 4-cylinder engine, manual transmission, and 2-wheel drive. XE V6 and top-line SE models got a 3.3-liter V6, also used in Nissan’s more upscale Pathfinder SUV. Those came with either a manual or automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD. Xterra’s 4WD system was not for use on dry pavement. Standard features on all models included antilock brakes, air conditioning, and engine/transmission skid plates. SE models added a manual sunroof.

Yearly Updates

2001 Xterra
Only minor revisions were evident on Nissan’s junior midsize SUV for 2001, especially at the instrument cluster. The SE got standard 16-inch wheels and tires, replacing 15-inch rubber, and its new sound system included an in-dash 5-disc CD changer as well as steering-wheel audio controls.
2002 Xterra
New for 2002 was an available supercharged V6 engine and a 4WD XE V6 off-road Enthusiast Package that eliminated the side step rails and added a limited-slip differential, manual locking hubs, and front tow hooks. All ’02 Xterras had a “power-bulge” hood and a revised dashboard.
2003 Xterra
Curtain side airbags were newly available for any Xterra. An antiskid system was optional for automatic-transmission 4WD V6 models and included traction control and a tire-pressure monitor. Also for ’03, V6s added standard driver-seat height and lumbar adjustments, and SE models offered a new “Rugged Leather” package option with suedelike interior accents.
2004 Xterra
For 2004, certain Xterra models get larger wheels.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Base XE editions held a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that developed 143 horsepower, teamed only with a 5-speed manual transmission. XE V6 and SE versions held a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 170 hp, available with either the manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. Only 2-wheel drive was available with the base XE, but others could be 2WD or 4WD. Xterras got an available supercharged V6 for 2002.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 143
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 154
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/200
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Supercharged ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/201
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 246
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Nissan intended the Xterra to be backpack-functional and contemporary cool, yet in some ways it’s rather stodgy. Acceleration is plodding with the 4 cylinder, but adequate with the V6. The automatic transmission works well, as do the brakes. An automatic 2WD SE reached 60 mph in 9.6 seconds. Even in 2WD form, the suspension is stiff enough to cause notable jiggle on bumpy pavements, though it won’t pummel a person’s kidneys. Cornering grip is decent for a high, narrow SUV, but steering is vague on-center. Compared to the nimble Honda CR-V, an Xterra feels rather ponderous. Fuel economy is midsize-level, not compact-frugal. One new 2WD V6 averaged 17.2 mpg; another just 14.6 mpg in harder driving, while a 4WD SE S/C averaged just 13.4 mpg with the supercharged V6.

While it doesn’t match a CR-V or Toyota RAV4 in convenient all-surface 4WD, an Xterra–which has a Low range–is designed to lead those rivals in off-road capability. An Xterra eagerly tackles difficult mountain trails, but its V6 drones under hard throttle, and a nagging wind whistle from the roof rack adds to intrusive noise levels. Nissan’s no-frills approach is evident in utilitarian cabin furnishings.

Most interior trim panels are noticeably thin, as is the door glass, though seat fabrics look durable. The simple dashboard works well, though lanky drivers might crave more rearward seat travel and using the “umbrella handle” parking brake is an old-fashioned chore. Lowish front bucket seats promise good head room for tall occupants, but impel a slightly legs-out posture. Rear head room is terrific, because the kicked-up roofline allows the bench seat to stand higher. Sadly, three grownups won’t fit easily in back. Rear leg room is minimal unless front seats are pushed forward, and the back bench is hard. Step-in is high, and rear door bottoms are so narrow that entry/exit is a real squeeze. Cargo space beats a CR-V or RAV4 with the rear seat up.


Model Tested: 2002 Nissan Xterra SE w/4WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 5

Total: 43


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 178.0 70.4 69.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
65.6 19.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.5 41.4 32.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2000 Xterra 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 78
Injury 76
Theft 76

Trouble Spots

Dashboard lights
Description: The check-engine light comes on due to a poor electrical ground between the intake manifold and cylinder head on V 6 engines. (2000)
Engine knock
Description: Some vehicles with the V6 engine may have a knocking noise just above idle speed. It is not a mechanical problem, but is caused by a noisy purge valve in the emission control system and upgraded replacement parts are available. (1999-02)
Engine misfire
Description: Poor idle quality when coasting with the clutch depressed was being corrected by reprogramming the powertrain-control module. (2000)
Engine noise
Description: Ticking noise may be due to crack in exhaust manifold between cylinders 1 and 3. (2000)
Audio system
Description: Popping and crackling noises in the audio system are often due to cell phones plugged into the cigarette lighter. Using a different power source or moving the phone often helps. (2000)
Vehicle noise
Description: Clunking or hammering noise under the floor can be traced to a loose torsion bar anchor at the crossmember. Spacer washers were being installed under warranty. (2000)
Check-engine light
Description: Poor electrical ground on V6 might cause check-engine light and multiple trouble codes. (2000)
Check-engine light
Description: Rough idle and/or check-engine light illumination may be caused by water in the distributor. A replacement with a better drain is offered. (2000)

Recall History

Description: Fuel pump terminal on fuel-sending unit of vehicles in certain states may develop crack in plastic molding; if corrosion and breakage occur, fuel pump could stop operating, causing engine to stop running without warning or be unable to start.
2000 w/automatic
Description: Shift-cable lock plate may be too brittle and could break, so transmission would not shift out of “Park” position and gear indicated may differ from gear that is actually engaged.
Description: Fuel-tank shutter valves may be faulty on certain vehicles, resulting in possible fuel leakage. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002 Supercharger
Description: Under certain conditions, on vehicles equipped with a supercharger, faulty airflow meters may have been installed, resulting in the illumination of the malfunction indicator lamp and decreased engine speed. Dealer will inspect and reprogram affected meters.
Description: Certain cars may have faulty clock-spring connectors, resulting in airbag nondeployment. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-2004 Xterra vehicles manufactured from July 9, 2001, through January 6, 2005.
Description: Over time corrosion may form in the lower steering column joint and limit movement of the joint which may create excessive load on the lower steering column shaft. If the vehicle continues to be driven in this condition, it may lead to cracking of the shaft during low speed maneuvers that require large steering inputs. The shaft may break which could result in loss of steering control during these low speed maneuvers increasing the risk of a crash. The steering column shaft and joint will be replaced with a shaft of a different design. This service will be performed free of charge.
2004 w/tow hitch
Description: Attachment bolts may not have been tightened properly, which could cause hitch to loosen or separate from vehicle.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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