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2011 Nissan Xterra Review

Among off-road SUVs, the 2011 Nissan Xterra is considered to be one of the best off-road performers. However, for on-road driving, most reviewers preferred other compact SUVs to the Xterra.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful V6 engine
  • Good off-road abilities
  • Uncomfortable seating
  • Some cheap interior materials
  • Poor fuel economy




Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Nissan Xterra Overview

When it was new, reviewers thought that the 2011 Nissan Xterra was a capable off-road performer, but fell short of other 2011 compact SUVs that offered smoother performance. Most test drivers liked the Xterra’s power and acceleration from a stop, but some thought it labors during highway passing. Reviewers said that since it’s a truck-based SUV, the Xterra’s on-road handling is notably rougher than most used compact SUVs. It exhibits significant body lean, but some test drivers felt that the steering was fairly precise with a tight turning radius. Regarding fuel economy, the Xterra is on the low side for the class.

Inside, the Xterra received high marks from reviewers for its spacious cabin when it was new, but its design and material quality garnered some complaints from reviewers who thought it felt cheap. While the Xterra has plenty of leg- and headroom, auto critics found that the Xterra’s seats were uncomfortable, lacking bolstering in the front and cushioning in the back. Also, some reviewers said that the Xterra’s back seat was cramped given this SUV’s size. Still, test drivers liked the versatile cargo space that has an available washable floor mat.

Keyless entry, cruise control and a six-speaker stereo comes standard on the base Xterra. Higher trims can add equipment that improves the Xterra’s off-road ability, as well as features like Bluetooth, an upgraded stereo and leather upholstery.

See the full 2011 Nissan Xterra specs »

Other SUVs to Consider

If you’re looking at the Xterra, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler is worth checking out as well. Both vehicles get comparable fuel economy, but the Xterra has a more powerful engine. In addition, the Xterra has better performance and interior quality. However, the Wrangler is one of the best off-road SUVs on the market, so if you’re a thrill seeker, the Wrangler should be on your list.

The 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a solid off-road performer with a good safety score. The FJ Cruiser gets better fuel economy than the Xterra, but is slightly less powerful. When it was new, reviewers praised the FJ Cruiser for its off-road handling.

Compare the Xterra to the Wrangler and FJ Cruiser »

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