What's Old (School) Is New Again
This isn't the first time Motor Trend has been impressed with the Xterra. In fact, it received Sport/Utility of the Year honors in 2000, when the SUV first made its debut. Back then, the staff had to cut through the Gen-X-focused ad campaign to get to the genuine merits of the 'ute. One arena where it shined then, and still does, is off the beaten path. "In low-range, the lightweight 4x4 easily scampered up steep sandy hills that left the heavier vehicles struggling, and, try as we might, we couldn't get it stuck." Sounds familiar.

Another aspect that impressed the editors was value. Six years ago, the entry-level, four-cylinder-powered XE started at $17,869, and the V-6 could be bought for $19,019 Fully loaded models topped out at $26,148. For 2006, Nissan hasn't lost sight of its priorities: Motor Trend's near-topline Xterra was $28,980, only $2832 more than the 2000 model, and the new base model is only $2931 more than the 2000's six-cylinder.