Stout 4.0-liter V6 is a rugged best-pick; standard six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic.
The Nissan Xterra is mourning one of its few rivals now that the Toyota FJ Cruiser is pushing daisies. With a base price below $25,000, the Xterra an affordable piece of sporting gear directly aimed at an active audience. Designed on a modified Titan full-size pickup chassis, this tough-as-nails five-passenger trail traveler received significant inside/outside updating for the 2009 model year, which is typical for this class of vehicle, and continues relatively unchanged for 2015 in base X and S models. Both trims can be had with four-wheel-drive and all but the PRO-4X can be had in two-wheel-drive. Power comes from a stout 261-horse 4.0-liter V6 with a six-speed manual transmission (four-wheel-drive models only) or five-speed automatic to handle the shifting chores. Since the seven-passenger Pathfinder is no longer built on a similar platform, the Xterra is Nissan’s only body-on-frame wagon workhorse, with the exception of the enormous Armada. The Xterra caters to an outdoorsy demographic and the option packages are driven by lifestyle. For example, there’s an available eight-speaker Rockford Fosgate-brand stereo with subwoofer. And for cliff-scaling adventurers, mountain bikers and risk-takers in general, the Xterra’s available Utility Package includes a first aid kit to patch up its hazard-craving trail-battered owners and companions.