When Xterra debuted as a 2000 model, it rewrote the book on compact sport utility vehicles, with its "everything you need, nothing you don't" approach offering an all thrills, no frills alternative to the traditional vehicles in class. In 2002, Xterra added a supercharged version of its powerful V6 engine and refined front end styling – raising the bar yet again against the competition. For 2003, all 3.3-liter normally aspirated V6 engine-equipped Xterra models receive an additional 10 horsepower (an increase to 180 hp) and two additional lb-ft of torque (now 202 lb-ft). In addition, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System is available on Xterra for the first time, helping keep Xterra fresh and its reputation for innovation in class firmly intact.
Also for 2003, all Xterra XE V6 models come with standard 16-inch alloy wheels and tubular step rails, and four new exterior colors are available: Canteen, Granite, Atomic Orange (limited availability) and Camouflage (limited and late availability). Other refinements include an enhanced 300-watt maximum rating for the Rockford Fosgate®-powered 8-speaker audio system with subwoofer, available tire pressure monitor system and standard Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) system.
“Simply stated, Xterra just keeps getting stronger,” said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “The 2003 model is still a pure go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle, especially if there's excitement and adventure involved.”
All 2003 Xterras feature a tough, rugged front end styling and large round headlights with a thick surrounding frame and a front fascia with the Nissan flying “V” grille and round fog lights. The raised “power bulge” hood center section clears the way for the supercharged V6 and lends a muscular, powerful look echoed by the signature Xterra front fenders with large flares. Supercharged SE models offer 17-inch wheels with off-road 265/65R17 tires, while 16-inch wheels with beefy 265/70R16 tires are available on XE and SE Xterras.
XE models feature black trim around the headlights and grille, with a silver roof rack, step rails, wheels and front lower fascia. SE models come with a dark titanium-colored finish on all exterior trim, accessories and wheels.
Optional on the SE Model is a factory-installed supercharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. This engine, shared with the Frontier S/C compact truck, produces 210 horsepower and 246 of torque. It uses a Roots-type blower developed in conjunction with Eaton Corporate and is warranted by Nissan.
Supercharged Xterras are available in 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive with 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Final drive ratios on supercharged Xterras are optimized to correspond with tire and engine changes.
Two other engine choices are offered again in 2003: the popular 180-horsepower (an increase of 10 horsepower) SOHC 3.3-liter V6 and a 143-horsepower DOHC 2.4-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder. A 5-speed manual transmission is available in 4-cylinder and V6 models, with a 4-speed automatic transmission available on V6 models. Xterras equipped with the 4-cylinder are 2-wheel drive only, while V6 Xterras are available in 2- or 4-wheel drive.
For 2003, a heavy-duty alternator and dual 12-volt power outlets located in the engine compartment are standard on SE and added to the Sport Package.
Xterra continues to feature a double-wishbone front suspension and dual leaf-spring rear, with stabilizer bars front and rear. Power-assisted recirculating ball type steering and 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) are also standard on all models.
New Interior Features and Amenities
The Xterra interior, revised in 2002, receives a number of further enhancements for 2003. Driver's seat height and lumbar support adjuster has been added to V6 models and a new roof headliner net (on non-sunroof models) and luggage side net have also been added, along with new metal ceiling tie-down hooks. A new Rugged Leather Package adds suede-like door fabric inserts (SE model only).
The redesigned instrument panel with three “cockpit-style” round gauges continues in 2003, along with other enhancements added last year: a new console with side map pocket, a 25-percent larger glove compartment, a map light with integrated compass (SE), pullout rear cup holders and four interior power points. The optional Rockford Fosgate®-powered audio system with subwoofer (8 speakers total) has been boosted to 300 watts from 210 watts in 2002.
Enhanced safety features include curtain side-impact supplemental air bags, available as a stand-alone option. Other safety features include standard dual stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and rear child seat anchors, called LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for CHildren).
Models and Options
The 2003 Xterra is offered in three 4x2 models – XE, XE-V6 and SE-V6, in two 4x4 models – XE-V6 and SE-V6. The Supercharged V6 is available with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive SE models.
A number of optional packages and equipment are available, including Utility, Power and Sport Packages, SE Sunroof Package, XE Audio, Dynamic Control Package and Rugged Leather Package. Also offered are the curtain side-impact supplemental air bags.
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