2013 Nissan Xterra Expert Review

3.3 Overall Score
Performance 3.4 Comfort 3.2 Styling 3.4 Value 3.0

Editor's Overview

The 2013 Nissan Xterra is an SUV built to go where fewer modern SUVs tread: Off road. While more sport utility vehicles focus on refined road manners and creature comforts, the Xterra makes no apologies for its utilitarian, adventure-minded character. It doesn't sip gas or have heated seats, but the Xterra is livable on highways and happier still in the muck.

You'll Like The 2013 Nissan Xterra If...

If you're looking for a tough off-roader with the spirit of the old Jeep CJ but that is far more reliable, the 2013 Nissan Xterra is a good partner. The Xterra's sturdy frame and 4-wheel-drive system (4WD) will please weekend warriors, while its versatile interior and adept suspension make it a livable daily driver.

You May Not Like The 2013 Nissan Xterra If...

If your idea of off-roading is driving up snow-covered pavement to the local ski resort, a more fuel-efficient and comfortable crossover, such as the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 or Mitsubishi Outlander, should suit you just fine.

What's New

While most Xterra models see little change for 2013, prices on all have dropped, with Xterra S trims decreasing by over $2,600. Top-line PRO-4X models gain a hands-free infotainment system with navigation and rear-view monitor, while S models get an updated audio system.

Interior Features

In addition to its ability to secure a wide range of gear, the 2013 Xterra's roomy cabin easily accommodates people. The tall roof and theater-style raised rear seats provide good headroom and an impressive view of the great outdoors. The Xterra's seats are comfortable and supportive. Buttons and knobs are easy to use, but the dash itself is rather plain and utilitarian. The steering wheel tilts but does not telescope, which can make it difficult for drivers to find a perfect fit. The 3-passenger second row folds flat in a 60/40 split, and PRO-4X models benefit from a fold-flat front passenger seat that makes it easy to carry long items like surfboards.

Exterior Features

With its boxy shape, swollen fender flares and roof rails that could double for industrial piping, the Xterra is the image of rough and tough. Those roof rails and built-in storage box have defined the Xterra ever since it debuted in the year 2000, giving this SUV practicality and a visual punch. Also still present is the asymmetrical rear window. A skid plate protects the Xterra's lower radiator from bruises, and PRO-4X models have additional skid-plate protection around the oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case. Those top-trim models also have fog lights and roof-mounted off-road lights. Standard wheels across the board are 16 inches in size.

Driving Impressions

With its generous ground clearance, commanding ride height and big tires, you might think this off-roader would be a handful on the highway and in the city. To our pleasant surprise, the Xterra holds its own in the civilized world. Its freeway ride is reasonable and on par with most mid-size pickups. The Xterra's 4.0-liter V6 engine is strong and provides the power needed to pass slower vehicles or claw up dirt trails. The Xterra is no wannabe when the pavement ends; it easily tamed whatever terrain we threw at it, from muddy ruts and fallen logs to streams and creek beds. The Xterra always proved capable and, most importantly, never left us worrying about getting stuck in the muck.

Pricing Notes

All 2013 Nissan Xterra models have dropped in price from the previous year. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base X model with 2-wheel drive starts at $23,785. Xterra S models start at $25,695, while PRO-4X models have a starting MSRP of $30,285 and top out around $2,000 more with leather seating and an automatic transmission. At its starting price, the Xterra is over $4,000 less than a base 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser and about $3,000 less than a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the Nissan Xterra. The Xterra's resale value has traditionally been far below that of the Wrangler and FJ Cruiser, which are the best in their segments in the Kelley Blue Book 2013 Best Resale Value Awards.

Notable Equipment

The 2013 Nissan Xterra comes in three trims: X, S, and PRO-4X. Xterra X models are the least expensive and most basic. They have a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, cruise control and power windows and door locks, but lack power mirrors and a USB audio input. Stepping up to the Xterra S trim brings much more, including the rear cargo-management system, driver's-seat lumbar support, and upgraded audio system with 4.3-inch color display and auxiliary inputs for USB devices like an iPod. Top-line PRO-4X models have 4-wheel-drive, locking differential, Rockford Fosgate sound system and a navigation/infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity.

Notable Options

The main package option on the 2013 Xterra includes leather seating for the PRO-4X model. Accessories include a tent that blooms from the rear of the Xterra, a tow hitch and a pet divider for carrying Fido in the rear compartment.

Favorite Features


The 2013 Xterra gains some much-needed technology with this 5.8-inch color touchscreen system that includes a navigation system, streaming audio, backup camera and real-time information, such as traffic and weather conditions.


The Xterra is good at hauling stuff, from surfboards and bikes to man's best friend. With 10 cargo hooks, a fold-flat front passenger seat, Utili-track cargo system and available accessories that include a pet divider and hatch tent, versatility is the name of game.

Under the Hood

All 2013 Nissan Xterras use a 4.0-liter V6 engine that makes 261 horsepower and a robust 281 lb-ft of torque that helps with pulling and off-the-line acceleration. Xterra X and S trims are rear-wheel drive, with 4-wheel drive available as an option. PRO-4X models come standard with 4-wheel drive. Transmission choices are a 5-speed automatic (the only choice on X trim, and optional on S and PRO-4X models) or 6-speed manual on 4-wheel drive S and PRO-4X models. Towing capacity for the 2013 Xterra is rated at a respectable 5,000 pounds. The Xterra runs on regular gasoline, but fuel economy is not a strong point.

4.0-liter V6

261 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm

281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg (2WD, automatic), 16/20 mpg (4WD, manual), 15/20 mpg (4WD, automatic)

Editors' Notes

The 2013 Nissan Xterra is a survivor among a dying breed: The body-on-frame SUV. With their rugged foundations, such SUVs excel in off-road situations, usually at the expense of on-road comfort. While it may not have the following of Jeep's venerable Wrangler, the Xterra is a respectable off-roader with an attraction all its own. If you want an SUV that serves as a comfortable commuter or has the latest safety and tech features, look instead to a road-oriented crossover like the Honda CRV, Ford Escape or Kia Sorento. But if you're among the hardy types who desire a rugged, few-frills SUV that's happy in the rough, the Nissan Xterra is an appealing option with a starting price that undercuts the 5-passenger Wrangler Unlimited and Toyota's FJ Cruiser.

Road Test Video Reviews

2013 Nissan Xterra Owner Reviews

28 Reviews
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Very low maintenance. Lots of storage area! Very safe for grandchildren!

2013 Nissan Xterra X

Hello I have loved the performance of my car for a very long time but recently I became a grandma and began loving my car even more. I feel extremely safe and driving him around in my car. I've had no problems at all with my car. I keep up with all my oil changes and check my tires on a regular basis. I'm a CNA so I have a lot of storage in the backseat and in the rear section of my car for what I need to carry for my career. I also travel a lot so I also have a lot of room for baggage. There's also a rack above for when I use it for moving furniture or whatever. The value of my car has remained good. So if I would decide to ever sell it I could still sell it for a good price which is great!

- Rebecca V

Nissan xterra’s are awesome.

2013 Nissan Xterra

I love my Nissan xterra pro4x. It has been 100% reliable and no mechanical issues thus far which is great considering I have driven across country 4 times. It is a smooth, comfortable ride with plenty of interior room. The only downside to this vehicle for me is that the gas mileage is not great, about 15-17 miles per gallon. Other than that, the vehicle has decent get up and go, a nice stereo and I love the gsp system. A true SUV when all the others have been turned into crossovers.

- Rebecca D

Safest car I have ever had.

2013 Nissan Xterra

This car has been remarkable. I have had no issues with it in 4 years. It has been hit 3 times from the back and has held up to keep my family safe. The only replacements have been for new back bumpers and a new tires. Otherwise, it is easy to clean, maintenance and travel with. We often take it to the mountains and it feels really safe driving in snow, ice, hail and rain. I haven't felt safer in any other car I have had.

- Alyssa F

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