2006 Nissan Xterra

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Change year or car

$20,050

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

SUV

Body style

5

Seating capacity

178.7” x 74.9”

Dimensions

Rear-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

The good:

  • Excellent drivetrains
  • Towing capacity
  • Optional stability system
  • Optional side-impact and side-curtain airbags

The bad:

  • Standard V-6 raises price
  • Stability system delayed for manual transmission
  • So-so fuel economy
  • No moonroof option
  • Challenging ingress
  • Old-style seat folding

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2006 Nissan Xterra trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2024

Notable features

  • RWD or 4WD
  • Standard ABS
  • Folding front passenger seat
  • Easy-to-clean cargo surface
  • Upscale offroad features

2006 Nissan Xterra review: Our expert's take

What is so special about the Nissan Xterra sport-utility vehicle? With dozens of SUVs on the market, why was the 2006 Xterra named last fall as Motor Trend magazine’s SUV of the Year, becoming the first repeat winner of the 8-year-old award?

My take is this: It’s a true SUV.

And by that I mean the Xterra is a sport-ute designed to dig into the mud off-road and roll over fallen logs, shallow streams and boulders of all sizes.

Isn’t that what SUVs are truly meant to do when not passing time on smooth highway surfaces? Yes, according to Motor Trend’s hard-driving SUV testers and yours truly. For rugged duty off the paved path, Xterra looks the part. It has a high-riding, bold front-grille presence that might well stare down a grizzly bear on the trail. Such intimidating ambience is not part of the visual package in, say, a Toyota RAV4.

The Xterra’s flared fenders, sturdy side steps and prominent roof rack (with a nifty latchable lid built in) all but scream off-road warrior.

If you really want to get away from it all — with plenty of gear packed in the back or atop the vehicle — and you don’t mind some rolling and bumping to reach that nobody-around-for-miles outdoor spot, it’d be hard to find a better vehicle than the Xterra.

That’s especially true with the tested 2006 SE-V6 4X4, the top-of-the-line among eight Xterra trim levels. Yet for all its features, the starting price of $27,650 is comparatively reasonable.

Off-road, the SE-V6 with four-wheel-drive and a truck-based platform (fully boxed, all-steel ladder frame) is a trail-tamer par excellence. I could almost feel the Xterra mocking me on our mild off-road ramble… “C’mon! Is that all you got?”

Yes, it is. A mix of behind-the-wheel cowardice and a major reluctance to put dents in a nearly $30,000 Xterra tester kept me off the hard-core off-road trails. But based on my experience, the Xterra would have eaten those up with equal aplomb.

On the pavement, the ride was not what I’d call silky smooth, but certainly smooth enough to make driver and passengers comfortable. The 4-liter, dual-overhead-cam V-6 engine with 265 horsepower and 284 foot-pounds of torque was responsive in all conditions. It was particularly gutsy at higher revs, when asked for some extra juice to pass other vehicles.

Nailing the accelerator for near-maximum power can be a noisy experience, so you might need to continue conversations with back-seat passengers after you complete your pass.

For all its macho exterior presence, the tested Xterra was downright soft and luxurious inside.

Standard interior features included a 380-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system (matched to a six-disc CD changer, nine speakers and MP3 capability), power windows/doors/exterior mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, under-floor cargo storage area, dual cupholders front and rear, overhead sunglasses holder, titanium-accented gauge trim and an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjusters.

Roughing it never felt so good.

Extras on the tester included XM Satellite Radio ($350), body side molding ($110), carpeted floor mats ($110) and a supplemental air bag package that included roof-mounted air bags for protection in side impacts or rollovers and an extra front seat-mounted, side-impact air bag ($700).

That extra bit of safety was on top of a pretty good standard safety package — dual-stage front air bags, active head restraints, front/rear crumple zones and pipe-style steel beams in the side doors.

With seats folded, Xterra’s cargo space is a healthy 65.7 cubic feet. For further convenience, cushions in the 60/40-split rear seating area can be removed.

Rear seats sit a little higher than those in front, something Nissan calls “rear stadium seating,” but the effect is barely noticeable. Ditto on the raised roofline to accompany the higher-riding rear seats. A cargo net and a first aid kit also were part of the package in the tested Xterra.

Gas mileage is a not-so-hot 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the open road.

Bumper to bumper, the Xterra is worthy of its awards. It covers all the bases.

If you’re willing to sacrifice a little highway smoothness in order to tackle some dicey off-road terrain, Xterra is a likely vehicle choice. But if your idea of off-road is the drive-through at Dairy Queen, you might want to look at something different.

NISSAN XTERRA AT A GLANCE
Make/model: 2006 Nissan Xterra SE-V6 4X4

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door, four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle

Base price: $27,650 (as tested, $29,525)

Engine: 4-liter V-6 with 265 horsepower at 5,600 revolutions per minute and 284 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm

EPA fuel economy: 16 miles per gallon city; 21 mpg highway

Transmission: Five-speed automatic with overdrive and special features

Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion with speed-sensitive feature

Brakes: Power-assisted, vented discs on front and rear (with anti-lock and other braking-enhancement features)

Suspension: Independent, double-wishbone on front; rigid leaf on rear

Fuel tank: 21.1 gallons

Passenger volume: 99.8 cubic feet

Maximum cargo volume: 65.7 cubic feet

Curb weight: 4,402 pounds

Track: 61.8 inches on front and rear

Height: 74.9 inches

Length: 178.7 inches

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches

Width: 72.8 inches

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

Tires: P265/65R17 all-season/multi-surface radials

Final assembly point: Smyrna, Tenn.

About the writer:
The Bee’s Mark Glover can be reached at (916) 321-1184 or mglover@sacbee.com.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.1
  • Interior 3.9
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value 4.3
  • Exterior 4.5
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Best SUV in the market

I own a 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-road 4X2 automatic 6 cylinder. I'm the second owner and purchased it with 60k miles on it. I've owned it now for about 14 yrs. and still own it today at 149k miles. I enjoyed it so much that i don't have the heart to get rid of it. I live out in the desert, and this truck has never failed me. The Xterra Facebook group has been a tremendous help and support to anyone interested in joining. But, just like any truck, regular oil change and keeping up with maintenance is essential. It would also help if you are mechanically inclined as some items need to be replaced as the truck gets older. It's been a fun truck to have and inexpensive to own. I would highly recommend it. Just make sure to look under the car to check for excessive rust when purchasing one and check inside the radiator for milky water while the engine is running. Other than that, Happy Driving!

5.0

No Complaints.

This car is one of the best I've seen on the road. I currently own a 2006 at 250k miles and it's still running strong without any major problems. This is an incredible vehicle that not many appreciate which is saddening. It's mainly for offroading but it can also be used for day to day trips. Looks extremely nice on the outside, even better than the Pathfinder Armada.

1.0

Complete Joke

Would be an otherwise great car if something extremely important didn’t brake every other day and cause it to be un-drivable for weeks on end. If it’s not the transmission almost being lost, it’s the radiator going bad and pumping a antifreeze-transmission fluid mix through my whole system, and if it’s not that it’s my brake pedal going out, making it completely un-drivable for nearly a month. Can’t drive it without constant fear of something braking. For only having 103 000 miles on it(got it with 102 000 miles, I barely get to drive the thing), this is a complete joke. If you love dumping more money repairing a xxx unreliable junker then you’d spend on the payments itself, then maybe I’d recommend getting an xterra. Ps. Also gets pretty bad gas mileage compared to similar SUVs.

See all 41 consumer reviews

Safety

Based on the 2006 Nissan Xterra base trim.
Frontal driver
4
Frontal passenger
4
Nhtsa rollover rating
3
Side driver
5
Side rear passenger
5

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Nissan Certified Select
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
60 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Nissan and non-Nissan vehicles less than 10 years old and less than 100,000 miles. (Nissan vehicles less than 6 years from original new car in-service date must have more than 60,000 to qualify for Certified Select.)
Powertrain
6 months/6,000 miles from date of sale
Dealer certification required
84-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

See all 2006 Nissan Xterra articles