2008 Nissan Xterra Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Nissan Xterra If...

The 2008 Nissan Xterra is ideally suited for the active adventurer highlighted in so many Xterra commercials. An affordable price tag allows just about anyone to own this tough Nissan SUV, and a civilized ride makes it easy to live with in day-to-day driving.

You May Not Like The 2008 Nissan Xterra If...

If you're looking for economy over power, the Xterra's new V6 won't impress you. The Xterra's ride, though not rough, is a far cry from the car-like comfort provided by the Honda CR-V and Toyota Highlander.

What's New

The Xterra's standard equipment list grows larger, starting with the base X trim which receives power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry and cruise control. The S trim gains step rails, a first aid kit and a cargo net.

Interior Features

The Xterra's long wheelbase and tall height create ample headroom and legroom for every passenger, front and back. Rear 60/40-split seats combine with a fold-flat front passenger seat to create enough room for lengthy outdoor gear (or tall floor lamps). A clean and purposeful interior features dual stacked glove compartments, multiple 12-volt outlets and a versatile cargo area.

Exterior Features

With a tubular roof rack, stepped roof and bump on its back, the Xterra looks as if it were born to be a long way from pavement. The 2008 Nissan Xterra appears to sit on the road with a comforting sense of security, thanks in large part to its long wheelbase and short overhangs, as well as its wide, pronounced fender flares. Its "angled strut grille" serves as the new face for many of Nissan's trucks and SUVs. The bin at the front of the roof rack features a latchable cover, and the rear bumper includes integrated side steps for easier access to the roof.

Driving Impressions

Around town and on the highway, the 2008 Nissan Xterra rides and handles impressively; it tracks straight, rides smooth and handles even higher-speed sweeping turns as calmly and confidently as a solid sedan. Its impressive V6 powerplant, a modified version of the engines found in the company's 350Z and G35, quietly delivers power whenever you need it. The Xterra performed admirably in our off-road tests, negotiating soggy access roads and fording streams deep enough to think twice about crossing. And judging from our off-road experience in another Xterra sibling, the Nissan Frontier pickup, the Xterra would likely traverse large boulders just as well.

Pricing Notes

The Xterra's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $22,000 for the X trim level, then jumps to around $27,000 for the four-wheel-drive Off Road edition and to more than $33,000 for a fully-loaded SE. The Fair Purchase Price page shows the typical transaction price paid for the Xterra in your area, so be sure to give it a look before you begin negotiations. Also be sure to check the Incentives tab to see what deals Nissan may be offering. Over a five-year period, Kelley Blue Book projects the four-wheel-drive Xterra's residual value to be about average, significantly stronger than the Jeep Liberty and Kia Sorento, but well below the Jeep Wrangler.

Notable Equipment

Features on the base Xterra include a 4.0-liter V6, six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes with Electronic Brake force Distribution, stability control, roof gear basket, single CD sound system, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and an Easy Clean cargo area surface with multiple heavy-duty hooks and Utili-track Cargo Channel System. Standard safety equipment includes front airbags, front-seat active head restraints and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Notable Options

Options, offered as parts of various trim levels or available individually, include a five-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 380-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with MP3-compatible in-dash six-disc changer, XM Satellite Radio, fold-flat front passenger seat, front side airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags. The Xterra Off Road model includes electronic Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, additional skid plates and unique blue seat cloth (Off Road model features vary by 4x2 or 4x4, and manual or automatic transmission).

Favorite Features

Versatile Cargo Area
In addition to no-carpet and Easy Clean surfaces, the Xterra's cargo area features a total of 10 cargo hooks in the sides, ceiling and in the adjustable Utili-track Cargo Channel System in the floor.

Side Steps
Integrated into the body of the vehicle, the Xterra's side steps make it easy to access and secure cargo at the rear of the roof.

Under the Hood

The Xterra's V6 pulls as strongly on the highway as it does climbing rocks and dirt mounds. Ample torque translates into ample towing ability, but all that power comes at a price, and you'll pay it at the pump.

4.0-liter V6
261 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
281 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/20 (2WD, manual), 15/20 (2WD, automatic), 16/20 (4WD, manual), 14/20 (4WD, automatic)

Editors' Notes

Many SUVs have grown into giant luxury barges incapable of tackling little more than snow-covered pavement, which is why off-road devotees and weekend warriors love the 2008 Nissan Xterra. Nissan's most affordable SUV is renowned for its rugged body-on-frame construction, powerful standard V6 engine and insatiable appetite for all things dirty and boulder-strewn. Although it now faces tough competition from Jeep's Wrangler four-door, the Xterra remains an attractive prospect. Innovative features, such as a built-in first aid kit, adjustable cargo-hold track system and a roof-mounted drying rack, are geared toward those with active lifestyles, while the Xterra's civilized interior and comfortable ride make it perfectly suitable as a daily driver.

Road Test Video Reviews

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Owner Reviews


51 Reviews

65% 25% 8% 2% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

Great car for kids and dogs - I don't worry about spills or messes.

Love that it is an SUV - I like being up off the ground. It's easy to get my kids in and out of without having to be bent down or squatting. I also love that the back is tough plastic so it is easy to clean out without worrying about ruining carpet. I wish it was more tech friendly - given it is older, but I wish I had a satellite radio and even perhaps remote start - would be helpful with kiddos.

- Annell M

Good, Reliable family vehicle

My Xterra has been very reliable. It has only had one leak from a heater hose which I diagnosed and repaired myself in about 30 minutes. The gas mileage isn't great at about 18 MPG but it is a larger vehicle. It safely and comfortably fits me, my wife, and two children. Tires can be expensive but that can be said for any SUV or light truck.

- Nate H

Very spacious, excellent for travel.

My xterra has been the best vehicle I have ever owned. It's been very low cost to maintain and low on maintenance. The only issue I have had is the price of gas. It's not quite as gas economical as I would prefer but the overall package is worth the extra fuel cost. I love my xterra and I would definitely buy another one.

- J S