Are you an adventurer in the market for a rugged and compact SUV with off-road capabilities? Or maybe someone looking for a reliable vehicle for the comfort of your family or friends?
Well, then you’re in the right place since we will be talking about what can be regarded as one of the most reliable compact SUVs around. The Nissan Xterra may have been discontinued after 2015, but it still holds a lot of significance.
Now, while the Xterra may have the qualities of a solid SUV, certain issues have propped up and frustrated drivers. Hence, this article will provide you with knowledge on the best and worst years for Nissan Xterra.
The years are listed as follows:
Best Years For Nissan Xterra
Worst Years For Nissan Xterra
In the next section of the article, I will be exploring these different years in detail, showing why each year warrants the position it has above.
Let us now get straight into it!
List Of The Best Years For The Nissan Xterra: What Years To Buy
This list will be ranked starting with the best out of all these positive years and will look at the features that warrant the models’ number. Since this has been made after thorough research, you can be assured of the validity of this list.
Let us now begin!
#1 Best Year: 2015 Nissan Xterra
The 2015 model of the Nissan Xterra was the final year of production for this vehicle, and Nissan had updated or modified most pre-existing issues when this version was manufactured.
With this model, you get three different trim styles, including the Xterra Pro 4x, Xterra X, and the Xterra S. All these styles carry 261 hp, which is more than enough reliability for any off-road venture you may want to undertake.
The vehicle’s technology is stellar for contemporary times; with a Bluetooth hands-free system, multimedia system, USB connection, and more, you can be guaranteed that all your miscellaneous needs are met as well.
Finally, the car’s black and classic gray aesthetics are very appealing, and the interior design perfectly complements the requirements of long-distance or off-road trips. This includes expansive storage space and more.
In all, you really can’t go wrong with this version of the Xterra.
#2 Best Year: 2013 Nissan Xterra
The 2013 Nissan Xterra model carries most of the qualities stated of the 2015 model of the Xterra. It provides solid reliability, the same horsepower level, and is comfortable for off-road adventures.
The only real shortcoming of this model is that it may be technologically outdated compared to the 2015 model. The technological features mentioned above allow drivers to create a perfect atmosphere that cannot be recreated in the 2013 version.
Asides from that, there are a couple of complaints of engine cooling issues as well, but these issues arise very late on in usage and aren’t serious enough to warrant a return or structural repair.
#3 Best Year: 2012 Nissan Xterra
The 2012 Nissan Xterra carries all of the qualities of the mid-generation refresh that followed the 2009 version. Its truck-based construction with abundant ground clearance capabilities also gives the Xterra an edge in performance in the dirt and snow.
With this model, you get three different trim styles, including the Xterra Pro 4x, Xterra X, and the Xterra S. You also have a choice between the rear and four-wheel drive, but all these versions produce an identical hp of 261 and 281 lb-ft of torque.
However, complaints surrounding radiator leaks and technological out datedness hold this version back.
#4 Best Year: 2011 Nissan Xterra
The 2011 Nissan Xterra model is also a solid, low-budget option for off-roaders and adventurers. The vehicle is a throwback with its body-on-frame ute and simple layout.
The 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque are connected to a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The car’s ruggedness makes it a great pick for off-roaders, and its reliability stretches to 200,000 miles.
However, the 2011 Xterra has a very inefficient fuel economy. This, coupled with radiator leaks, holds it back from the top spots.
#5 Best Year: 2009 Nissan Xterra
What lands 2009 a spot in this list is just how revolutionary this version was to the second generation of the Xterra vehicle.
This second-generation was launched following the 2005 version and contained certain aesthetic and mechanical issues which warranted a mid-generation refresh for the 2009 version.
This refresh kept the strong areas of the second-gen, namely: a V6 single choice engine with 261 horsepower- and restructured it to remove the issues of the previous generations. It set the foundations for the two versions mentioned above.
However, it also misses out on the top two spots because it is significantly outdated relative to the other two models and has certain mechanical issues such as engine cooling and service brakes.
#6 Best Year: 2004 Nissan Xterra
This 2004 Nisan Xterra was the last, and arguably the best, version of the first generation of Xterra vehicles. A version from the first generation is a necessary inclusion since it embodies a simple SUV that has very few issues due to its solid and simple build.
The mid-generation refresh after 2002 means that this particular version has stronger horsepower at 180. This is accompanied by a steady output of 143 hp for the four-cylinder engine.
The 2004 version also has improved aesthetics compared to the older versions; rounded headlights and other interior modifications make it an aesthetically pleasing pick for an older or cheaper version of the vehicle.
However, it pales significantly compared to the other picks here, owing to its performance and datedness. Still, the lack of issues ensure, and its historical significance for Nissan warrant it a place instead of the post-2005 versions.
List Of The Worst Years For The Nissan Xterra: What Years To Avoid
Now, we will be focusing on the worst years for the Nissan Xterra; this will include those years with significant issues and complaints and will follow the same order as the one followed above.
Without further ado, let us begin!
#1 Worst Year: 2005 Nissan Xterra
Judging solely by consumer complaints, this 2005 Nissan Xterra model is by far the most problematic launched by the company, with over 400 complaints and several recalls.
One of the major issues with this model was a radiator defect which caused the engine coolant to mix with transmission fluid, causing a transmission failure.
This usually happened after the 100,000-mile mark and primarily impacted versions from 2005 onwards.
In addition to this, there were complaints of jolting when trying to shift gear, and certain users couldn’t even get out of the first gear, which created issues.
There are also issues with the timing chain wearing prematurely, which lay bare with this particular version. In addition, there was an official recall issued by Nissan to fix the problem of faulty fuel sending, which also led to many backlashes.
#2 Worst Year: 2006 Nissan Xterra
Many of the first second-generation Xterra (2005) problems carried on into its successor. The radiator defect has led to hundreds of complaints and forced customers into spending a lot on radiator displacement.
In addition, the issue of timing chains wearing out prematurely has not been fixed either in this version.
In effect, all the issues of the 2005 model are inherited by the 2006 Nissan Xterra model, and it shows how Nissan took time to truly adapt to the second generation of its vehicles.
However, the only reason this model doesn’t receive the top spot here is that Nissan still acted on some of the issues provided by the previous model, leading this version to be somewhat still more reliable than the 2005 Xterra.
#3 Worst Year: 2007 Nissan Xterra
The 2007 Nissan Xterra model also inherited most of the issues of its previous iterations. The design flaws of Nissan’s second-generation had become so glaring that this version received the “Avoid like the Plague” stamp by CarComplaints.com.
The coolant leak into the transmission system continued and is dubbed as the “Strawberry Milkshake of Death” (SMOD), owing to the pink color of the mixed liquid. It is a major internal design flaw that was only fixed after the 2009 mid-generation refresh.
In addition to that, this version also had the problem of vibrations with increased acceleration, which caused several users discomfort.
Again, despite being a general mess, this version was still an improvement on the even messier versions, which it had succeeded. The faulty timing chain became less prominent with this model, and the fuel sending unit became more stable.
#4 Worst Year: 2008 Nissan Xterra
Being the last version of the second generation before the mid-generation refresh, this vehicle is not advised because the future version significantly builds upon its flaws.
The 2008 Nissan Xterra, yet again, inherited the structural issues of its predecessors with only minute improvements in the timing chain reliability and interior design.
The radiator leak persists while the faulty fuel injector and engine misfires have also been issues of complaint about owners.
#5 Worst Year: 2001 Nissan Xterra
The 2001 Nissan Xterra is the second year of production for the Xterra. Common issues with this edition include clogged EGR and faulty time chains. Its datedness means that there is very little possibility of finding a clean version on the market.
Finally, being a part of the first generation means that it pales in comparison to the performance quality of other Xterra vehicles after 2005.
However, it still receives the 5th position here since it is a vehicle good for its time and a very good low-budget option in the modern-day as well.
#6 Worst Year: 2000 Nissan Xterra
It may feel unfair to add the 2000 Nissan Xterra model to this list, considering that this was the first debut edition of the Xterra.
Still, it is important to include this version to highlight the initial faults and, consequently, the improvements Xterra made in future years. Firstly, it is the weakest of all the models, but that is fair considering that it’s also the oldest.
Capping at 170 hp, this model captures the simplicity of the first generation Xterra model without the manufacturing and systemic improvements which followed the mid-generation refresh after 2000.
Hence, many manufacturing errors can be found, and most importantly, its datedness means that it’s very difficult to find a clean version of this model. Hence, while it may serve a nostalgic purpose, this model provides very little modern-day.
What Are The Most Common Problems With The Nissan Xterra?
With an analysis of the best and worst years out of the way, we can now focus on some of the common issues present in all Xterra versions. This section will prove a productive use of your time if you’re serious about buying.
Without further ado, let us begin!
1. Radiator Leak aAd Transmission Failure
This one issue is common with all the initial versions of the second generation of the Xterra (2005-2008) but may persist further. The SMOD (Strawberry Milk Of Death) is a satirical way to refer to this endemic design issue of the Xterra.
The leaks may continue irrespective of whether the cap is screwed tightly, and excessive leakage will lead to overheating or transmission failure. If spotted quickly, the leakage can be stopped by repairing the lower intake manifold.
Transmission failure is mainly a result of this radiator leak. The engine coolant mixes with the transmission fluid, creating a light pink liquid that corrodes transmission and causes it to slip. This requires major repairs, which can be very costly.
2. Faulty Fuel Injector
The fuel injector failure mainly affected first-generation versions of the Xterra (2000-2004) and may cause several drivability issues and engine misfires.
There is an overall decrease in engine performance, increasing vibrations and hesitancy when accelerating, and engine misfires which result from faulty fuel injectors.
It is imperative to repair the faulty part before it corrodes different connectors in the engine.
3. Timing Chain Problems
This is another notorious issue found in the models from 2005 onwards.
Before the particular component of the timing chain stops working, drivers may notice rattling or whining sounds which increase with acceleration; this indicates the timing chain needs immediate repair.
If this repair is not done, the issue may lead to acceleration problems and engine failure in the worst-case scenario.
4. Faultiness In Fuel Level Sensor
Once again, this issue is prevalent among the earlier versions of the second generation. When the level sensor fails, it begins to show erratic and irrational fuel level readings, which may also cause the check engine light to illuminate.
This may also lead to engine stalling in the worst-case scenario, creating the conditions for road accidents. Hence, it is imperative to replace the level sensor immediately once the problem indicates itself.
5. Clogging In The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valves
This issue is common to all versions but is particular to the earlier versions of the first generation of this vehicle. The clogging of the EGR values by Carbon may lead to engine misfires when speeding up.
However, repairs to this issue are quite simple and cheap; the consumer should simply clean the valve passage at preset intervals.
Related: Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How Many Miles Is Too Much For A Nissan Xterra?
The answer to this question is bound to appeal greatly to any prospective reader. The Xterra can go up to 200,000 miles on average and, depending on the average usage level, can survive the consumer for 13-15 years.
Depending on the rate at which oil is changed and the general upkeep of the vehicle, it can also last up to 230,000 miles, which is quite a large number for any vehicle.
Of course, this all depends on the level of maintenance and repair of the vehicle and the diligence with which it is handled; however, it also shows the reliability of this SUV.
Q2. Why Was Nissan Xterra Discontinued?
The Xterra was discontinued after the production of the 2015 model. Officially, the company cited declining sales and a poor fuel economy as the primary reasons for the discontinuation.
The body on frame model of the Xterra lost popularity in favor of unibody car-based crossover SUVs.
Secondly, the poor fuel economy of the Xterra contrasted with tighter environmental regulations meant that it just wasn’t profitable enough to continue production.
Q3. Are Nissan Xterras Good Off-Road Vehicles?
The Xterra is known for its great off-road capabilities. Taking the 2015 version to be the best possible model, the 4.0 V6 engine can go up to 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, coupled with a towing capacity of 5000 pounds and hauling capacity of 920 pounds.
This, along with its five-speed automatic transmission and its rugged-looking, comfortable interior, makes the Xterra a very reliable off-road vehicle.
It may be less agile than SUVs built on the platform of regular cars. However, it still provides a solid level of comfort alongside a high level of reliability regarding off-road adventurism and traveling.
Q4. Are Nissan Xterras Good In Snow?
It is a known fact that the Xterras, while being a very good pick for the summers, are also perfect when it comes to dashing through the snow in the chilling winters.
The vehicle’s resilience in the snow is especially the case with models of the second generation after 2009. The Xterra Pro 4X, in particular, has a very impressive ground clearance that is particularly beneficial when driving through deep snow.
This version will also be equipped with larger tires, skid plates, hill descent control, and standard electronic locking rear differential, all of which are components that will help greatly in traveling through the snow.
Q5. Are Nissan Xterras Good On Gas?
The Xterra is not the best in its gas mileage, which hovers from 16 to 19mpg. For four-wheelers who tend to go off-road, the number lingers more to the 16mpg mark.
Hence, we can see that the Xterra is not particularly fuel-efficient, and so the vehicle can be seen as a gas hog in some circumstances.
However, this mileage can be made flexible if the rider minds their speed and uses high-quality gas alongside other common-sense activities; all of these can help the rider economize on gas mileage.
However, it is still an undeniable fact that the SUV is not particularly the best for this particular feature, and other Nissan vehicles do much better when it comes to mileage.
However, since this is an SUV for off-roaders, it makes sense that it won’t have the best mileage.
With all that said and done, I have concluded this article by sharing best and worst years for Nissan Xterra. The Xterra is a reliable compact SUV with its ups and downs in its brief existence.
In general, however, it constitutes a low-budget SUV that provides reliable performance to the average enthusiast or rider. It is a good experience owing to its comfortable and rugged features, and it has done its best to adapt to technological improvements.
However, there are several internal design flaws that necessitate diligent maintenance on the part of the consumer. The Xterra is a great vehicle to have, especially for adventurists.
However, one can get the best out of it only if one is careful about the usage of the vehicle as well. It may not be the best luxury vehicle, but it provides a lot of pragmatic use for the average off-roader adventurer.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to create an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.