2022 Nissan Xterra: The Last Affordable SUV?

Is this the last true affordable 4×4? 

Imthishan Giado

2022 Nissan Xterra

For the full video review – click here 

I’ve got a real soft spot for the Nissan Xterra.

It was one of the first ever SUVs I reviewed for my old mag Car Middle East all the way back in 2010. And while it was far from a refined highway cruiser, with noisy leaf springs and very-average fuel economy, off the beaten track the Xterra proved one mighty little truck. With a gutsy 4.0-litre engine and a sturdy (if slow) five speed auto, it was incredibly capable in the sand, agile, and with typical Nissan reliability.

What of the new one? Well, it’s got all the mod-cons, that’s for sure. Climate control, Carplay, cruise control, comfy leather seats, and every safety system you could ask for. Indeed, it’s a much more comfortable car than the long-in-the-tooth model it’s replaced, and generally all the electronics and infotainment are crisp, clear and easy to use.

What it doesn’t have is that terrific 260bhp 4.0-litre six. In its place is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder good for a much more middling 165bhp, hooked up to a smooth shifting seven speed automatic. It’s a definite step down in power, and the reason for that is very obvious – in other (mainly Chinese and Asian) markets, this car is sold as the Nissan Terra.

In those countries with strict fuel taxation and high energy prices, there’s little need for a big six-cylinder engine. So the four-cylinder must do. But it doesn’t do very well here in a relatively heavy 4WD. On road, it has a wheezy quality, with the transmission working hard to keep it in its miniscule powerband. Offroad, it does have a separate transfer case to its credit. But there’s no sophisticated traction control (just a diff lock on the rear axle) and as you’ll see in the video, it’s a bit of a battle to keep it moving in soft sand.

That engine makes it hard to like what is otherwise a nice throwback sort of automobile. Ostensibly, it’s a competitor to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport, with the same rustic, body-on-frame construction. Great handler? No, but nothing in this segment really is. They’re meant to carry gear and people over rough ground in relative comfort. Interior? Cheap and tough plastics abound, broken up by the occasional piano black surface. Certainly a step above the blocky styling of the old car.

The Xterra is priced well at just AED99,000 for a basic 2WD model (this all-singing, all-dancing version comes in at AED134,000). The fact that it’s selling so well is a sign that Nissan Middle East has once again hit the product bullseye after the all-conquering Patrol. For a lot of people, it has tough SUV looks, good space, capacity and offers seven seats. But for me, it needs to offer a stronger, more rewarding engine to truly satisfy.

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