Along with the S/C option, Nissan tweaked the Xterra for 2002. A new grille with round headlights in a matte gray surround gave the face some character, as did the "power-bulge" hood treatment. This more aggressive styling update worked well with the standard roof rack (with equipment bin), flared wheelwells, and asymmetric tailgate. Nissan added an off-road options package that year, including manually locking hubs, tow hooks, and a limited-slip rear differential. For 2003, traction control was available on the SE trim level, and side curtain airbags were now optional throughout the line. Nothing of note changed for 2004, as Nissan had a new Xterra in the wings for 2005.

Reliability ratings for the Xterra are generally good. The 2001 model has had troubles with the exhaust-gas recirculation system and, on the 3.3-liter, problems with the distributor. Issues with the fuel pump connectors have been noted; If they fail, the vehicle becomes inoperable. Owners have also complained about supercharger rattle. According to Nissan's service instructions, this may be partly due to owners using non-premium fuel, which could prompt the engine control unit to put the supercharger into fail-safe mode, causing the rattle. Finally, Xterra owners have carped about poor fuel economy (around 14 mpg with the supercharger) and a trucklike ride. Well, it is a truck-based 'ute, designed for rough roads and hard living. Know that going in.


2000-2004 Nissan Xterra
Body type Four-door SUV
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Dual front
Engines 2.4L/143-hp DOHC I-4; 3.3L/170-hp SOHC V-6; 3.3L/180-hp SOHC V-6 (2002-on); 3.3L/210-hp SOHC supercharged V-6
Brakes, f/r Disc/drum, ABS
Price range, trade in/retail (KBB) $1750/$3980 (2000 RWD XE); $8600/$13,035 (2004 SC 4WD)
Recalls Too many to list; see www.intellichoice.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass Four stars/four stars