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2012 Nissan Xterra Review

Reviewers said the 2012 Nissan Xterra offers great off-road capability and a powerful V6 engine, though they noted that its downsides include a basic interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Great off-road capability
  • Powerful V6 engine
  • Simple interior controls
  • Cheap interior materials
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Narrow door openings




Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 7.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.1
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2012 Nissan Xterra Overview

With a standard V6 engine, the 2012 Xterra has plenty of power both on and off the pavement, according to most reviewers. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard and a six-speed manual is available. The base two-wheel drive Xterra gets an estimated 16/22 mpg city/highway, while the four-wheel drive model gets up to 16/20 mpg city/highway. While that’s typical for an off-road SUV, many compact crossovers use significantly less fuel. Despite its off-road nature, the Xterra has good on-road manners and handles well, according to most reviewers. Reviewers agreed that the Nissan Xterra offers strong off-road performance. A PRO-4X model is available, which comes with features like skid plates, an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control and hill start assist to improve the Xterra’s off-road capability.

While test drivers said the 2012 Xterra’s interior has a utilitarian design and lots of hard plastics, some noted that the materials are appropriate for an off-road SUV. Critics offered differing opinions on the Nissan Xterra's five seats. Some found them to be comfortable, while others wished for more padding and bolstering. They agreed that entry and exit are difficult due to the Xterra's height and narrow door openings. The base Xterra comes with remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, three 12-volt power outlets and a six-speaker stereo. Optional features when it was new include Bluetooth, an auxiliary input and satellite radio. Overall, reviewers found the Nissan Xterra's audio and climate controls simple and logically placed. With the rear row folded, the Xterra provides 65.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Reviewers noted that upper trims feature multiple cargo hooks and an uncarpeted cargo floor, which makes it easier to clean.

Other SUVs to Consider

Some reviewers considered the 2012 Jeep Wrangler among the best off-road SUVs available, noting that it can take on any terrain effortlessly. Available in two- or four-door body styles, the Jeep Wrangler also comes standard with four-wheel drive, as well as a standard V6 engine that reviewers said provides plenty of power.

The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser comes with more standard features than the Xterra, which include Bluetooth and a USB port. Additionally, reviewers said the Toyota FJ Cruiser offers impressive performance off the pavement and has especially strong brakes.

Compare the Xterra, Wrangler and FJ Cruiser »

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