The 2001 Nissan Xterra, which debuted as an all-new model in Nissan’s sport utility lineup for the 2000 model year, is described by Bruce Campbell, director of design, Nissan Design International, Inc. (NDI), as a “return to the soul of the sport utility vehicle.”
Editors of Motor Trend magazine recognized the “soul” of the Xterra and named it the “2000 Sport/Utility of the Year.” The Xterra earned the award based on its category-breaking combination of design, value, utility and fun-to-drive performance. Xterra has also won many other awards, including the North American Truck of the Year and as an Automobile All-Stars, among over 14 different awards given to Xterra in 2000.
The affordable, mid-size SUV is based on the Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup platform and is available in both 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive, with a choice of V6 and 4-cylinder engines.
“As the popularity of sport utility vehicles has exploded, the category has been both diversified and diluted,” said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “One part of our back-to-basics business plan has been to reexamine product categories where Nissan has both heritage and strength. The Xterra is a return to the basic concept, size, ruggedness and affordability of the original Nissan Pathfinder – a vehicle that helped popularize SUVs in the first place.”
The Xterra name was chosen to help distinguish it from the slightly larger, more elegant and sophisticated current-generation Nissan Pathfinder. “Xterra” is intended to reinforce the connection to the earth (terrain) and the adventurous lifestyle of its target buyers. It suggests images of activity, energy and excitement.
“It is What it Does”
Xterra is built on the Frontier 4x4’s 104.3-inch wheelbase and truck-style ladder frame chassis – it is longer, wider and taller than vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee and Toyota RAV4.
At the same time, pricing is in line with many mini-SUVs. Xterra has a base price of $17,999 due in part to its functional design, shared platform and its U.S.-based design, engineering and assembly.
Xterra is built at Nissan North America Manufacturing Smyrna & Decherd Tennessee Plant, Nissan’s award-winning Smyrna, Tenn.-based facility. “Xterra was created for a new generation of younger, active buyers, so affordability was a key requirement from its very inception,” said Kirrane. “We hope these outdoor enthusiasts will think of Xterra as part of their gear – as tough, reliable and dependable as the other quality equipment they use. Xterra is a vehicle that will help them enjoy their outdoor passions to the fullest, and then get them home safely again.”
Numerous unique elements have been built into the design of the Xterra and its accessories to enhance the vehicle’s functionality – including interior ceiling hooks, floor tie-downs and clips, and an interior bike rack.
“In simplest terms, Xterra is designed to be a tough, mobile place for stuff,” said Kirrane.
A Unique Body, A Solid Foundation
Xterra’s body emphasizes its tough, rugged, muscular look. The front view is anchored by a large, black-finished grille and bumper and rough, angular surface edges. The A-pillars and front doors are common to Frontier.
The side view features angular, stamped fender flares, which create its “broad shoulder” appearance. The raised roof line over the rear passenger and cargo area provides ample headroom inside for stadium-style rear seating and also gives Xterra its distinctive profile. Rear door handles are located in the C-pillars for a cleaner look. The standard tubular roof rack and tubular step rails (SE, available on XE) are functional, rugged and create a visual “exoskeleton” for the vehicle.
The standard roof rack is rated to carry heavy loads up to 125 pounds and is constructed of lightweight aluminum and powder-coated for extra durability.
A special removable front gear basket can carry up to 30 pounds of wet or dirty gear (secured by an accessory net), and the aerodynamic, adjustable cross bars are available with a range of accessory attachments – a number of them created by Yakima® – to help configure complex loads.
In the rear, Xterra utilizes angular rear glass, black privacy glass and an asymmetrical “backpack pod,” which is accessible with the tailgate lifted and can hold a Nissan first aid kit (standard on SE, optional on XE).
Underneath, Xterra’s pure, all-terrain utility is reinforced by its tough 4x4 truck chassis – full frame (rather than unibody), double-wishbone front suspension and solid rear axle with leaf springs and stabilizer bars front and rear. Xterra is available in 2-wheel drive or part-time shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive with 2-speed transfer case. Engine and fuel tank skid plates are standard on all models.
Two engines are available: a powerful 170-horsepower SOHC 3.3-liter V6 and Nissan’s proven 143-horsepower DOHC 2.4-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder. Both engines are available with 100,000 mile platinum spark plugs. Xterra models equipped with the 4-cylinder engine come with a standard 5-speed manual transmission, while V6-equipped models offer a choice of 5-speed manual or electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmissions.
Power-assisted steering and 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) are standard on all models. For 2001, the SE is shod with bigger wheels and tires – 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels (up from 15-inch) and P255/65R16 all-season radials. XE models continue with bright styled-steel or 4-spoke machined-aluminum alloy wheels and P235/70R15 or P265/70R15 all-season radials.
Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds for the 4-cylinder/2-wheel drive model and up to a full 5,000 pounds for V6 models with an automatic transmission.
Despite its truck-like ruggedness, Xterra has been designed to provide a comfortable on-road ride, with responsive handling and a quiet interior.
A Place for Stuff – Plenty of It
The interior of the new Nissan Xterra, also designed at NDI, clearly puts the “utility” back in sport utility vehicle. It is spacious without ornamentation, functional without frills.
2001 Xterras feature a new dashboard design around the instrument cluster for easier visibility, day or night. Standard on SE models is a new AM/FM stereo with 6-disc in-dash CD changer and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
Xterra offers seating for five adults, with front bucket seats and stadium-style 50/50 split rear fold-down bench seating for added versatility and a great view for rear seat passengers. The rear seat cushions are removable, providing a large, flat cargo area with the rear seat folded down. Storage pockets are included – on the back of the front passenger seat and on the seat’s upper left side – an ideal “shirt pocket” for holding sunglasses, wallet or cellular phone. There are also small storage bins in the cargo area.
Xterra offers a variety of available equipment ranging from front and rear auxiliary 12-volt power points and retractable cargo cover to up to 10 ceiling and floor tie down hooks, nets and dual interior bike racks. Other Xterra accessories include nose masks, exterior bike racks, water-resistant seat covers, a pet guard divider, sporty carbon fiber trim pieces and rack attachments for skis, snowboards, kayaks, bikes, as well as a safari basket.
Audio systems range from the base XE’s six-speaker 100-watt AM/FM/CD system (replacing the previous 60-watt cassette system) and optional 100-watt AM/FM/cassette/CD, to the AM/FM with 6-disc in-dash CD changer with steering wheel audio controls.
A Choice of Models
The 2001 Xterra is available in five engine/drive/trim configurations to meet the needs and desires of a range of buyers. The base XE model Xterra 4x2 comes standard with a 143-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual overdrive transmission and a variety of standard features, including air conditioning and ABS.
Optional is a Utility Package, with front and rear auxiliary power points, ceiling tie clips, first aid kit, P265/70R15 tires (V6 models only), rear wiper, retractable cargo cover, tilt wheel, tubular step rails and variable intermittent front wipers.
The next step up is the Xterra 4x2 and 4x4 V6, standard with the 170-horsepower SOHC V6 and an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Available packages include the Power Package, Utility Package and Sport Package.
SE models, available in 4x2 and 4x4, come standard with the V6 and the Power, Utility and Sport Packages. Optional is an automatic transmission.
New colors on Xterra for 2001 include Gold Rush, Just Blue and a unique Mineral Blue, which will only be available on 1500 units, as well as the return of Solar Yellow to the color palate.