The base Xterra is known as the X trim, aimed at people who want a rugged midsize SUV. It comes standard, like all Xterras, with a 4.0-liter V6 good for 270 horsepower. The X gets a standard five-speed automatic and rear wheel drive. Four-wheel drive with a low-speed transfer case is available.
Amenities include power windows, locks and cruise control, 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, split-folding rear seat and folding front passenger's seatback and a six-speaker audio system. The S adds a height-adjustable driver's seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, wipe-down cargo area and offers a six-speed manual with four-wheel drive models. The off-road ready Pro-4X comes standard with four-wheel drive, along with a six-speed manual, electronic locking rear differential, hill holder clutch, hill descent control, 16-inch alloy wheels with off-road tires, skid plates, Bluetooth, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with AUX input, satellite radio and a six-disc CD changer.
The Jeep Liberty has many similar off-road abilities and is available with more luxury features, but it has a weaker powertrain and the interior is cramped and poorly made. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is even more capable off road and offers a removable top for open-air fun, but gets expensive and doesn't stay composed on the road. The Toyota 4Runner has more space and available features with good off-road ability, but it costs much more and is cumbersome to drive on the road. And a Land Rover LR2 is more refined on road and has decent off-road ability, but it costs much more and isn't as rugged looking as the Nissan.
The Xterra is definitely a good buy for those who need something to match their high-adventure lifestyle and want an SUV that definitely won't leave them stranded. There are far better choices for people who want to pose in town and look active, and even some off-road minded competitors offer comfort features and better availability of modern features like Bluetooth and satellite radio, but as a package the Xterra is tough to beat if you also need your SUV to be tough.