Good writers go to heaven, but TTAC writers go everywhere. Justin Berkowitz went to Car & Driver, where he found out some news that will no doubt be welcomed by xtreme outdoor athletes everywhere.
Nissan has revealed its modest refresh of the 2009 Xterra, and it's more offroady outdoorsy than ever. The once iconic, now ironic vehicle is still ready to tackle trails or haul your more traditional domestic possessions. The enlarged 4.0-liter VQ V6 carries over, with 261 hp and 281 lb ft of torque, hooked-up to a five-speed slushbox or a six-speed stick. Only a few comments here, because the refresh really is very modest… First, if there was ever a vehicle ripe for a diesel, it's this one. Plenty of Xterra owners travel long distances to get to their off-road adventures and/or take the rug rats to the water park. Xterra owners are not acceleration addicts (ipso facto) and the diesel clatter (God forbid) would go with the image. Towing? Yes. Towing. Second, as a solid "lifestyle" vehicle with a strong image, the Xterra needs to really trade on that impression. The new [available] roof-mounted off-road lights are a good start, but they need to slam home the go-anywhere, no frills, off-roader style of this truck. That means keeping amenities to a minimum and avoiding the ever-present feature and content bloat.
Today's showrooms teem with vehicles with false pretensions. Four door 'coupes.' Hardtop convertibles. 'Sport' wagons. SUV-schnozzed minivans. Hybrid-powered trucks. At best, most crossbreeds and half-casts are insincere. At worst, they're incestuous counterfeits. In Nissan's case, the Maxima no longer lives up to its 'four door sports car' billing. The Quest is a minivan masquerading as modern art. The Murano is an SUV that doesn't want to get its feet wet. So consider the Xterra Nissan's mea culpa. It does exactly what it says on the tin: it's a truck's truck.
Nissan's new Xterra is based on yet another variant of the company's stout F-Alpha platform, first seen underpinning the massive Titan. As with the previous iteration, the new model is a fantastically buff, well-resolved form– butch without being vulgar. Clipped overhangs and purposefully-vesicated sheetmetal give it the muscular good looks of a gym rat. If the compact SUV segment were an elementary school playground, Xterra would liberate its classmates of lunch money, yet they'd all feel cooler by association.