As with all winners of Truck of the Year, the 2006 Xterra earns an automatic invite into the Truck Trend garage. This is the second time the Xterra has won the award, the first being in 2000.
Although it looks similar to its predecessor, the Xterra launched in early 2005 is all-new in every other way. The exterior is broader and taller, which translates to more leg, shoulder, and headroom. Using a shortened version of the F-Alpha platform (Pathfinder, Titan, et al.), the wheelbase has grown by two inches but the overall length has increased by just 0.7 inch.
Previous-generation Xterras had a variety of engines from which to choose, none ever the perfect answer. Now there's just one: the 4.0-liter, 60-degree V-6--and it's exactly what this rig needs. This powerplant cranks out 55 more horses and 38 pound-feet more torque than the old supercharged V-6. Four-wheel-drive models get a secondary engine mapping that adjusts throttle response when in 4-Lo. A six-speed manual is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional; ours has the latter.
We opted for the Off-Road model, which gets underbody armor, foglamps, knobbier tires, and 9.5 inches of ground clearance, priced at $27,655 to start. Options included the 380-watt Rockford Fosgate AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system that's also wired for satellite radio ($900), the Protection Package (all-season floormats, emergency kit, and wheel locks for $160), carpeted floormats ($110), in-cabin microfilter ($60), splash guards ($110), and an auto-dimming mirror with compass ($230), bringing the total to $29,225. You can get a base 2WD Xterra for $20,655, and most of the standard features on the 4x4 are optional on the 2WD version.