Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X

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Images: Author

For some automakers, reinventing the wheel seems to be a common theme for certain model lines in order to remain competitive. For Nissan and its Xterra sport ute, the wheel works just fine.

Aside from a mid-decade styling makeover and switch to the Nissan’s new truck-based F-Alpha platform, Xterra has continued to prove itself worthy in the contemporary “daily driven offroader” segment that includes the likes of 4Runner and Liberty.

Nissan gives Xterra most of the modern amenities found across its utility and truck line of vehicles while not abandoning a rugged architecture for the full-out adventurists in the world.

One can take Xterra to participate in a traditional “9-to-5” lifestyle but at a moment’s notice star in its own unique adventure series filmed by HeroHD camera users.

Xterra arrives in one of three packages – X, S, or PRO-4X – and all 2012 Xterra models are powered by Nissan’s VQ-Series 4.0-liter V-6 engine rated at 261hp and 281 lb. ft. of torque. This is backed by either a six-speed manual gearbox (S 4×4 and PRO-4X 4×4 only) or five-speed automatic tranny with choice of either two- or four-wheel drive running gear.

Modern amenities include Bluetooth hands-free phone system, XM satellite radio and rockin’ Rockford Fosgate audio system.

Nissan insists Xterra remains true to its original mission statement: Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

I recently tested the PRO-4X model and would have to agree with Nissan. Xterra offers a pleasant driving experience and knows its way around the woods like a Boy Scout.

Around town one can certainly tell the vehicle was designed with unpaved roads in mind as things can get a bit bouncy at times but Xterra remains in control and never misbehaves.

Drivers fortunate enough to find themselves off the beaten path will take advantage of the fully boxed frame supporting front independent double wishbone suspension with coil springs, high performance Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differential, electronically-controlled transfer case, hill start assist, hill descent control and 16-inch machined alloy offroad wheels with BFGoodrich rugged trail tires.

And a first-aid kit.

Xterra includes a full complement of safety technology including airbags all around as well as four wheel ABS with vented disc brakes all around, vehicle dynamic (stability) control and of course tire pressure monitoring system.

Interior materials are rugged and easily cleanable should you bring the outdoors in and seating is comfortable for five adults with rear seating in raised theater-style for improved line of sight.

Driver happy, passengers happy (unless they all want to drive and you don’t want to share).

Pricing for the 2012 Nissan Xterra begins at $24,890 for a base X 4×2 model with our PRO-4X 4WD (our tester came with the automatic) coming in at just under 32 grand. And of course it came with the roof rails and gear basket as well as fog lights, roof-mounted offroad lights, rear side bumper steps, splash guards, and tow hook.

Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

And despite the next-generation Pathfinder going to a unibody chassis, reports have it that Xterra will remain true to its F-Alpha roots.