- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Xterra became an image vehicle for Nissan when it first rolled onto the streets and trails of America. It symbolized a free-spirited attitude of the adventurous, and became the vehicle of choice for kayakers, rock climbers and bicycle riders. The Xterra’s personality hasn’t changed. It has, however, grown.

The new Xterra has been stretched a few inches both in wheelbase and interior room. The rear seat area gets the lion’s share of that increase with more legroom for rear passengers. There is also an increase to the overall length of the vehicle.

While the increase in size mainly benefits the rear-seat passengers, this larger size also aids in making the front-seat occupants more comfortable. As a driver, I was able to find a very comfortable position even with a passenger seated directly behind me. It is a complement to the design of a compact vehicle of any style.

Additional features expand the usefulness of the Xterra. One addition I particularly appreciated is the rail-type tie-down system. This is a more compact version of the system introduced on the Titan pickup truck. However here it is smaller and not movable. There are also extra metal tie-down loops mounted on the rear headliner panel. Because these are fastened right to the steel structure of the roof, they will withstand up to 150 pounds of force. They appear plenty strong enough to handle most anchoring jobs.

The interior is as well designed as the structure. Taking cues from the Armada and Pathfinder, the Xterra offers comfort for your adventures.

Do not become dismayed by the Xterra’s finer attributes. This Nissan becomes much more capable as it becomes more comfortable. While the four-wheel-drive version is more refined, it increases its ability to get you to the back country. Added to the many features that has made Xterra a practical choice, are a Hill Descent and Brake Roll Back systems. The Hill Descent aids in slowing the vehicle to a crawl while descending a steep hill. The system works only in four-wheel-drive mode and under extremely slow conditions. The hill brake system senses that you have stopped on an incline and retains brake force upon startup. This keeps the vehicle from rolling down hill in the few seconds when you move your foot from brake to accelerator.

A new 4.0-liter V-6 engine is the power source for Xterra, giving it a very healthy 265 horsepower and 284 foot-pounds of torque.The electronically operated transfer case makes switching from two-wheel drive to four-wheel high and four-wheel low extremely easy task.

Adding to the safety functions are an anti-locking brake system, traction control and a available stability control that aids the drive in retaining control in the rare occurrence of a skid.

The updated Xterra is more contemporary and more capable, making it an attractive vehicle for those who enjoy off-the-paved-road adventures.

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