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2002 Nissan Xterra

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2002 Nissan Xterra Review

The Xterra is more suited for off-roading than running errands.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The Nissan Xterra is a midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was created to appeal to younger buyers. It has enhanced off-roading ability and built on a truck platform. It was introduced in 2000 as a compact SUV as a direct face-off with the competition that consisted of SUVs that were not more suited to city driving than off-roading. In 2002, Nissan added a supercharged V-6 engine, restyled the front end, and modified the interior. It is available in two trims, the base XE or the SE.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 3.3-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Nissan Xterra XE, Nissan Xterra SE

What's New

The 2002 Nissan Xterra got a new available supercharged, V-6 engine and the hood was raised and bulged to accommodate the larger engine. It also got restyled headlights and a new front fascia. For the interior, the SUV got new climate controls, cloth fabrics, and a larger glove box. Nissan made alterations to the list of standard and optional features.

Exterior

The standard exterior features for the 2002 Nissan Xterra XE include: 15-inch steel wheels, speed-sensitive windshield wipers, rear defogger, and rear wiper, painted bumpers, rear liftgate door, skid plates, roof rack, and privacy glass. S/C models got remote keyless entry, power mirrors, and power windows. The SE trim replaces the 15-inch steel wheels with 16-inch alloy wheels and the speed-sensitive wipers with variable intermittent wipers. It also adds tube running boards, remote keyless entry, and power windows, and power mirrors. The XE trim equipped with the V-6 engine and 4WD can get the optional Enthusiast Package which includes fog lights, ceiling tie clamps, front tow hooks, a limited-slip differential, and manually-locking hubs.

The exterior of the Xterra screams rugged. Its raised hood has a power bulge to house the larger supercharged V-6 engine. The aluminum roof rack is thick and rounded with black airfoil and it matches the step rails. The large grille and front bumper covers big radiator vents and the front of the SUV has round headlights and recessed fog lights. You may have some trouble reaching the roof rack because there is no handles to grab when you step up on the tall rear bumper. You will need to buy a separate cover for the gear basket at the front of the roof rack.

Interior

The interior features of the Xterra XE include: cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, split-folding rear bench seat, air conditioning, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo system, power steering, 12V power outlets, The SE trim and S/C versions of the XE get a leather-trimmed tilting steering wheel with integrated cruise and audio controls, leather trim on the shift knob, a six-speaker in-dash six-CD stereo system. For the XE models with the V-6 engine and 4WD, you can get the optional Enthusiast Package that includes a first aid kit.

The 2002 Nissan Xterra has a new instrument panel that has three round gauges that are reminiscent of airplane cockpit gauges, which are gray in the XE and blue in the SE. The deep-set gauges can be hard to read until you turn on the headlights. All of the controls are laid out nicely. Unfortunately, the dashboard is replete with low-quality plastic. The front seats are uncomfortable and taller drivers will find that legroom behind the wheel is not ample enough. Headroom is generous in the front and rear, but legroom in the rear seats is minimal. The rear seat is hard and not wide enough to seat three adults. Entry to the rear compartment is difficult because of the high step-in and narrow doors.

Performance & Handling

The 2002 Nissan Xterra XE is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 143 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. All other models are equipped with a standard 3.3-liter, V-6 engine that makes 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. This V-6 engine is optional for the XE. You can also get the supercharged 3.3-liter V-6 that makes 210 horsepower and 231 lb-ft of torque. All engines can be mated with a standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed automatic. It has standard rear-wheel drive or optional part-time 4WD.

The four-cylinder and V-6 engines produce lethargic acceleration, but the supercharged V-6 feels peppier. The steering is vague on-center, but the Xterra grips the road decently in cornering. All models give a rough ride, but the supercharged SE absorbs bumps well with the new 17-inch tires. This SUV is based on a truck platform and it drives and rides like a truck. It gives its best performance off-road, allowing you to traverse the open plains with ease.

Safety

Standard safety features for the 2002 Nissan Xterra includes: four-wheel ABS, dual front airbags, rear child door safety locks, ventilated front disc/rear drum brakes, child seat anchors, and electronic Brake force distribution. The SE trim adds fog lights and an anti-theft alarm system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Xterra two stars for rollover protection.

EPA Fuel Economy

Nissan Xterra XE: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Xterra XE S/C: 14/18 mpg city/highway
Nissan Xterra SE: 15/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Xterra SE S/C: 14/18 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Roomy interior
  • Rugged looks
  • Off-road capability

You Won't Like

  • Meager acceleration
  • Uncomfortable front seats
  • Poor on-road acceleration and steering
  • Cheap interior materials
  • Weak four-cylinder and V-6 engines

Sum Up

The Xterra is more suited for off-roading than running errands.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Mazda Tribute

See the New 2015 Xterra.

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