Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,700 – $27,500*

2005 Nissan Xterra

2006 Nissan Xterra

2005 Nissan Xterra

2005 Nissan Xterra

  • Acceleration
  • Passenger room
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls
  • Steering feel

Xterra is slightly smaller than most in the midsize SUV class, hence the somewhat tight interior space. Its off-road orientation accounts for sub par ride comfort, and its backwoods-ready character means there are few luxury touches. Indeed, it’s that rugged demeanor, cargo versatility, and youthful appeal that makes it an interesting pick at this price level.


Nissan redesigned the least-expensive of its three midsize SUVs for 2005. More powerful and slightly larger than the 2000-2004 Xterra, the ’05 shared a platform with Nissan’s Pathfinder, though with a solid rear axle vs. Pathfinder’s independent rear suspension. Both were based on a smaller version of the company’s Armada large-SUV platform. Xterra seated five; no 3rd-row seat was offered. The only engine was a 265-hp V6. S, Off-Road, and SE models were offered. S and Off-Road versions were available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic; the SE came with automatic only. All offered rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive that should not be left engaged on dry pavement but includes low-range gearing. Antilock 4-wheel disc brakes were standard. An antiskid system was optional on S, standard on Off-Road and SE. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows were optional on all. Off-Road models had all-terrain tires, Bilstein-brand shock absorbers, and underbody skid plates. Four-wheel-drive Off-Roads had a locking rear differential. Versions with automatic transmission had Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. SEs had 17-inch wheels; the others had 16s. A roof rack was standard.

Yearly Updates

2006 Xterra
An entry level X model was added to the Xterra lineup.
2007 Xterra
Xterra carried over unchanged.
2008 Xterra
The 2008 Nissan Xterra added a few new available features, including a wireless cell phone link.
2009 Xterra
The 2009 Xterra received slightly freshened styling.
2010 Xterra
The 2010 Nissan Xterra was largely unchanged.
2011 Xterra
The 2011 Nissan Xterra underwent a model reorganization, as the PRO-4X replaced the Off-Road and the SE was discontinued.
2012 Xterra
For 2012, the Nissan Xterra lost its SE trim level, and the Off-Road model was renamed the PRO-4X. Also, a navigation system was no longer offered.
2013 Xterra
The Xterra received few changes for 2013, but all models dropped their base prices and added equipment.
2014 Xterra
The optional navigation system with NissanConnect was updated with additional features including audio streaming. New standard features included a hands-free cell-phone link, steering wheel radio controls, and a sunglasses holder on the headliner. Pro-4X models now had heated front seats. There were also revised HVAC controls and new wheel designs.


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

Xterra comes with a 265-horsepower 4.0-liter V6. A 6-speed manual transmission and 5-speed automatic are available.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/241
Engine HP 265
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 284
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic

Road Test

With either transmission Xterra feels strong, from a stop and around town. A Consumer Guide test automatic-transmission 2WD SE clocked a commendable 7.1 sec 0-60 mph. The automatic transmission reacts quickly enough to throttle inputs, but passing at highway speeds can be a bit labored with either transmission.

Xterra is lighter than Pathfinder, and predictably more frugal. Our test automatic-transmission 4WD SE averaged 18.2 mpg in mostly highway driving, and 15.8 mpg with more city work. Our test 2WD SE averaged 16.8 mpg in mixed driving that included gas-eating performance runs.

A firm suspension and short wheelbase make for a choppy ride on all but the smoothest roads. The ride is a bit more comfortable with the 16-inch tires versus the SE’s less forgiving 17-inchers.

Handling is on par for the class, with fast corners inducing marked body lean. The steering is typical as well, feeling slow in parking and quick direction changes, while a turning circle confounds close-quarters maneuverability.

Noise levels are fairly modest at highway speed, but the gruff-sounding engine is fairly loud at full throttle. Wind rush is also pronounced over 55 mph. There’s marked road rumble, too, especially from Off-Road’s aggressive-tread tires.

Inside, a simple, handy control layout simplifies driving. The simple interior decor matches Xterra’s utilitarian aims, but there’s too much hard plastic.

Up front there’s plenty of head and leg room, though some tall drivers may feel too close to steering wheel. The seats are comfortable, but need more side bolstering to hold passengers in place through turns. Rear roof styling and wide windshield pillars hamper outward visibility.

Passengers will find plenty of headroom in back, but just adequate toe and leg space. And the seat cushions are too flat for best comfort on long trips. Xterra’s tall ride height and narrow door bottoms make entry/exit unusually tough.

Already good cargo space becomes generous with rear seats folded. The available fold-flat right-front seat allows carrying objects up to 9 ft long.


Model Tested: 2005 Nissan Xterra 4WD SE with Automatic Transmission

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 - 5
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 6

Total: 51


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 178.7 72.8 74.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
65.7 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 39.3 2.4 34.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Xterra 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: Air bag warning light may illuminate signaling failure of the system due to water intrusion in the front crash zone sensor and a campaign was issued to vehicle owners in salt states. (2005-09)
Cold-starting problems
Description: In very cold weather (10 degrees F or below) following a cold soak, the starter may not work after a short trip requiring replacement of the intelligent power distribution module. (2003-06)
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 noise
Description: Noise from the 3.0L engine, especially when started cold, due to a faulty timing belt tensioner. (2000-04)
Engine noise
Description: Chirping noise, especially on startup, on 4.0L V6 due to drive belt slippage requiring revised belt and tensioner. (2005-07)
Engine noise
Description: A buzzing or whining sound from the front of the 4.0L V6 engine is likely due to the timing chain(s) which should be replaced along with its tensioner(s). (2005-07)
Description: On trucks with manual seats, the seat back may not move fore and aft, due to separation of the linkage, which must be replaced. (2005)
Vehicle noise
Description: A tapping noise (like a pencil on a table) may come from under the dash due to debris in the heater core which must be flushed out. (2007-09)
Vehicle noise
Description: A buzzing or whining sound from the front of the 4.0L V6 engine is likely due to the timing chain(s) which should be replaced along with its tensioner(s). (2005-07)
Vehicle noise
Description: A buzzing or whining sound from the front of the 4.0L V6 engine is likely due to the timing chain(s) which should be replaced along with its tensioner(s). (2005-07)
Description: The power windows may quit working if the battery is disconnected or if the window fuse blows requiring reprogramming the windows. (2005-08)
Description: The auto-up feature may not work if the battery was disconnected or the power window is cycled numerous times without going fully up or down and must be reinitialized. (2007-09)
Electrical problem
Description: The electrical system could be damaged or even start a fire due to a short if trailer wiring is connected wrong. The company was updating earlier models with revised body control module and wiring harness, but only on vehicles that entered the shop so it is important to check that this service was performed. (2005)

Recall History

2005-09 Xterra in certain states
Description: A mixture of snow/water and salt can enter into the front crash zone sensor housing. It may rust and result in a signal interruption. If this happens, the red air bag warning light will illuminate. This issue could result in the non-deployment of the driver and passenger front air bags in a crash. Dealers will replace the front CZS with a counter measured sensor.
2005-2006 Xterra
Description: The intelligent power distribution module (IPDM) assembly contains an engine control module (ECM) relay that has a diode for electrical current noise reduction. The ECM relay may allow silicon vapor to form and, over time, this could cause engine stalling increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the ECM relay inside the IPDM assembly. This service will be performed free of charge.
2006-08 Xterra
Description: The fuel gauge may inaccurately display that the vehicle still has some fuel, typically about one quarter tank, when the fuel tank is empty. This could cause the vehicle to run out of gas and stall on the highway, which could cause a crash. Dealers will replace the fuel sender unit inside the fuel tank with a new improved sender card.
2008 Xterra
Description: The antilock brake system/vehicle dynamic control (ABS/VDC) actuator may have been manufactured incorrectly, decreasing brake effectiveness. Dealers will replace the ABS/VDC actuator with a new one.
2008 Xterra
Description: The tire information label lists an incorrect vehicle capacity weight, according to Federal regulations. Nissan will mail a correct tire information label and installation instructions to owners of the affected vehicles.
2010 Xterra
Description: On some of the potentially affected vehicles, the fasteners securing the passenger front air bag module and the steering shaft positioning bracket may not have been tightened to the proper torque specification. In the event of a crash, the passenger front air bag deployment trajectory might be affected. The fasteners could possibly come out of the steering column positioning bracket increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will inspect the steering column and the passenger front air bag fasteners and any missing fasteners will be replaced and all loose fasteners will be retightened to the proper torque specifications free of charge.
2012 Xterra
Description: Weak bolts connecting the engine oil filter and cooler to the engine may break and cause an oil leak, causing the engine to seize.
2012 Xterra
Description: Front wheel hubs may not meet hardness specifications and may prematurely wear and crack.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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