Consumer Reviews

Own this vehicle? How would you rate it?

My Rating

Braking
Fuel Economy
Interior Comfort
Acceleration
Dependability
Handling
Ride Quality
Overall Rating

My Review

Type your review and click the Submit button
0 of 600 character limit


Customer Review


Be the first to review this 2002 Nissan Xterra.


Expert Reviews ( 1 )

2002 Nissan Xterra
Sam Moses

Introduction
Nissan's Xterra is, well, it's cool. It's cool to have a basket for your wetsuits on the roof rack. It's cool to have an interior mountain bike rack. It's cool to be rugged. It's cool that it's retro at the same time that it's a trendsetter. And now it's cool to have a supercharged engine, a new option for 2002.

With its special blend of style and function, the Xterra has been a huge success ever since Nissan launched this compact sport-utility in 2000. The Xterra concept has prevailed beyond Nissan's expectations and hopes; heck, it's still just catching on, and for 2002 it has a more powerful engine, an updated interior and a restyled front end with new headlights and a bulging hood. Model Lineup
Two Xterra models are available: XE and SE. Three engines are available: a four-cylinder, a V6, and a new supercharged V6. For V6 models, there's a choice of two- or four-wheel drive.

The base 4x2 XE ($17,999) comes with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. Nissan's 2.4-liter double overhead-cam four-cylinder unit is rated at 143 horsepower. Four-wheel drive is not available with the four-cylinder engine. Standard equipment includes a tubular roof rack with removable gear basket, air conditioning, a 100-watt audio system with a CD player, anti-lock brakes and a full-size spare tire.

XE V6 ($19,199) models come with a 3.3-liter single overhead-cam V6 that produces 170 horsepower.

SE ($23,199) models come standard with the V6 engine and such equipment as fog lamps, tubular step rails, upgraded seats, cruise control, an in-dash 6-CD changer, first aid kit, power windows, locks and mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry and larger (16-inch) wheels and tires.

A supercharged V6 engine that produces 210 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque is available with either trim package. Even larger, 17-inch wheels and tires come along with the supercharged engine on SE S/C ($24,499) versions.

XE and SE come standard with a five-speed manual, and a four-speed automatic is available ($1000). Four-wheel drive is available ($2000). Walkaround
To make room for its supercharged engine, the 2002 Nissan Xterra needed a new raised hood with a power bulge. But Nissan didn't stop there. The California design team crafted new round headlights and a new front fascia to give the sport-utility an even more rugged and muscular look. Essentially, the 2002 Xterra got a new front clip. This new look is enhanced by the availability of three new colors: Shock Blue, Sedona and Molten Lava.

The Xterra has visual distinction that says rugged. For 2002, bigger tires add to this. SE comes standard with 265/70R16 tires on alloy wheels, while the supercharged model gets 17-inch alloys with 265/65R17 BF Goodrich off-road tires.

Rugged is carried through with a thick tubular aluminum roof rack with black airfoil; matching step rails; stout fender flares; handsome alloy wheels; beefy grille and front bumper with big radiator vents and recessed halogen fog lights; vertical handles on the trailing edge of the rear doors; a two-tiered roof with a tall square back having a bulge in the tailgate for the first aid kit; and, if you crawl under the vehicle, you'll see skid plates under the engine and fuel tank.

The tall, flat rear bumper with gripped surface makes a perfect stand for reaching the roof rack, but it's difficult to get up on, because there is no grab handle. If you're tall enough, you can hang onto the rear corner of the rack from the side of the vehicle and swing yourself up, but only rock climbers will love it. Considering the vehicle's hype about function, this is a significant if small oversight. Nissan says the Pathfinder is similar, and nobody ever complained. Maybe not, but Pathfinder owners carry groceries more often than kayaks.

In the same vein, the optional removable plastic gear basket at the front of the rack is an excellent idea (think of sloppy ski or hiking boots), but there's no net to cover it-that's another accessory you have to buy. Interior
For 2002, the Xterra gets a new instrument panel with a three-gauge, cockpit-style instrument cluster. A large new console is outfitted with map pocket, power ports and push-out cup holders. The XE has gray gauges while the SE's are bluish. Also new are the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning controls. The glove box is 25 percent larger.

The long-criticized, dash-mounted, pull-and-twist parking brake has been replaced with a foot-operated pedal system. This is a big improvement, though we'd still prefer a traditional hand-brake lever. The manual shift lever is on the tall size.

For 2002, the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The bucket seats fit well and provide good lumbar support. The fabric appears durable and resistant to stains.

The console layout is tidy and handsome, appropriately spartan. A CD changer holds six CDs, which can be selected with the six radio station buttons. There are two cool buttons for the four-way flashers and rear window defogger, rectangular and totally flat on the face of the aluminum-looking panel. The heater controls are three big switches with wings. There are front and rear auxiliary DC outlets in addition to the cigarette lighter, and big fixed cupholders front and rear. Cruise control and radio controls are located on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, with wide spokes located at 3, 9, 5 and 7 o'clock. The whole padded center is the horn, the best and safest operation because of quick access. The horn is tinny but strong, a no-frills statement.

We took the Xterra windsurfing, and missed the cool accessory seat covers made of wetsuit material. Other nice available cabin details include the side window demisters and rear heat ducts, smart storage crannies, as many as 10 cargo hooks on floor and ceiling, and a strap on the tailgate to close it from the inside.

Rear seating is not the most comfortable. There's not much side support. Rear-seat passengers can slide their feet under the front seats, but it's a little tight, an inch less than the smaller Toyota RAV4. There's lots of headroom, though. The roof is raised over the rear seats to allow for their elevation, providing a nice view through the windshield.

Because it's built on the Frontier pickup truck platform, Xterra's engineers must have been challenged to squeeze everything in, while providing lots of good cargo space (65.6 cubic feet with the seats folded down, 44.5 cubic feet with the seats up).

The 50-50 rear seatbacks fold down fairly flat, but the seat bottoms must be removed. So, depending on circumstance, you either leave them in your garage or they become loose cargo of their own. At least they're featherweight. Driving Impressions
The 2002 Xterra feels tighter than last year's model. It feels smoother and more refined than before. Thanks to high-tech sound insulation in places not normally insulated, the 2002 Nissan Xterra is quiet at freeway speeds. However, floor the throttle and the single-cam V6 gets pretty loud. And the luggage rack hisses in the wind.

The Xterra sways at gusts and leans in curves, not surprising given its height and boxy shape. That big vertical rear window provides excellent visibility, but it gathers dust and dirt like crazy. The rear wiper/washer is optional on the XE, but should be considered standard equipment for anyone who drives in anything less than perfect conditions on a dry road.

The Xterra is nimble at slower speeds, feeling lighter than its 4130 pounds. The steering is very nice. At higher speeds there is a slight lag in the steering from the on-center position, but the straight-line ride is very nice.

The suspension takes bumps well; it sometimes has a bit more trouble with dips, which can be felt in the pit of your stomach similar to the feeling from a fast-stopping elevator. The suspension does a great job on washboard gravel roads. In corners, there's less sway than you might expect given the high center of gravity, but the head toss is significant over rutted and potholed dirt roads.

The front suspension is double wishbone; the rear is leaf springs with a solid axle. Power steering is by recirculating ball. The chassis rides on the backs of 10 individually tuned dual-rate rubber chassis mounts, so there's no harshness there at all. At the same time, the ladder chassis from the Frontier is certainly strong. The Xterra rides much better than the Frontier pickup.

Get the optional limited-slip rear differential if you drive off road for the increased traction it provides.

The naturally aspirated 170-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 is challenged to smartly drag the 4WD Xterra's body weight of 4130 pounds.

The 210-horsepower supercharged V6 benefits from an Eaton supercharger designed specifically for Nissan's 3.3-liter V6. Unlike a turbocharger, the supercharger delivers its power the moment the driver pushes on the throttle. It delivers strong torque (246 pounds-feet of torque at 2800 rpm), though it doesn't turn the Xterra into a rocket. Acceleration is accompanied by that supercharger whine, which some people like and others don't. For 2002, Nissan has taken measured to reduce noise from the supercharger: a hood insulator was added, a thicker windshield is used, and a baffle was installed in the front fender well on supercharged models.

We haven't tested an Xterra with the little twin-cam 143-horsepower four-cylinder engine, but guess that it must be downright burdened. Maximum torque of 154 foot-pounds for the four-cylinder engine comes at 4000 rpm versus peak torque of 200 foot-pounds for the V6 at just 2800 rpm-and lower is better for accelerating up steep hills or pulling away from an intersection.

Nissan's four-speed automatic transmission shifts up and down very smoothly, and its electronic calibration avoids hunting on hills-as long as you're not in overdrive.

The four-wheel antilock brakes are big enough, although rear disc brakes would be a welcome upgrade from the rear drum brakes. The drums are understandable, however, because the Xterra is built on the Frontier platform, and the pickup is perfectly fine with rear drums. Summary
With its recently upgraded exterior and interior and with an available supercharged V6 engine, the 2002 Nissan Xterra is much more than a solid contender among compact sport-utility vehicles. It's downright cool.

Model as tested
XE V6 4x4 ($22,199)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Smyrna, Tennessee
Destination charge
540
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
17999
Price as tested
25037
Options as tested
Utility Package ($999) includes additional power outlet, ceiling tie-down hoods, first aid kit, cargo cover, tilt steering wheel, step rails, variable intermittent wipers, 16-inch alloy wheels and 265/70 aspect tires; Power Package ($1299) includes speed control, reading lights, dual power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless remote entry, cloth trim door panels, alarm system

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
XE ($17,999); XE V6 ($19,199); SE ($23,199); XE S/C ($22,799); SE S/C ($24,499)
Safety equipment (standard)
4-wheel ABS, dual airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, side-door beams, front and rear crumple zones, hood buckling creases, child-safety rear door locks standard
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
3.3-liter SOHC 12v V6
Transmissions
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
automatic transmission, air conditioning, assist grips, cargo tie-down hooks, full carpeting, center console, electric rear window defroster, black rear privacy glass, cargo area light, luggage rack w cross bars, dual manual mirrors, AM/FM/CD w six speakers, front bucket seats, rear 50/50 split fold down bench, skid plates (fuel tank and engine), front and rear stabilizer bars, power steering, cargo area storage bins, tachometer, dual tripmeters, cloth upholstery, styled steel wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
3.3-liter SOHC 12v V6
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
170 @ 4800
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
15/19
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/drum with ABS
Suspension, front
double-wishbone
Tires
P265/70R15 all-season
Suspension, rear
leaf springs, solid axle

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.6/52/41.4
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.8/51.9/32.8

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
65.6
Wheelbase
104.3
Length/width/height
178/78.7/74
Turning circle
35.4
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
5000
Track, front/rear
60.0/59.3
Ground clearance
9.2
Curb weight
4130


Vehicle History Report

Get answers to buy with confidence
  • Check for accidents
  • Confirm the reported mileage
  • Purchase multiple reports and save

Car Buying and Selling Resources





Rough Trade-In - Rough Trade-in values reflect a vehicle in rough condition. Meaning a vehicle with significant mechanical defects requiring repairs in order to restore reasonable running condition. Paint, body and wheel surfaces have considerable damage to their finish, which may include dull or faded (oxidized) paint, small to medium size dents, frame damage, rust or obvious signs of previous repairs. Interior reflects above average wear with inoperable equipment, damaged or missing trim and heavily soiled /permanent imperfections on the headliner, carpet, and upholstery. Vehicle may have a branded title and un-true mileage. Vehicle will need substantial reconditioning and repair to be made ready for resale. Some existing issues may be difficult to restore. Because individual vehicle condition varies greatly, users of NADAguides.com may need to make independent adjustments for actual vehicle condition.

Average Trade-In - The Average Trade-In values on nadaguides.com are meant to reflect a vehicle in average condition. A vehicle that is mechanically sound but may require some repairs/servicing to pass all necessary inspections; Paint, body and wheel surfaces have moderate imperfections and an average finish and shine which can be improved with restorative repair; Interior reflects some soiling and wear in relation to vehicle age, with all equipment operable or requiring minimal effort to make operable; Clean title history; Vehicle will need a fair degree of reconditioning to be made ready for resale. Because individual vehicle condition varies greatly, users of nadaguides.com may need to make independent adjustments for actual vehicle condition.

Clean Trade-In - Clean Trade-In values reflect a vehicle in clean condition. This means a vehicle with no mechanical defects and passes all necessary inspections with ease. Paint, body and wheels have minor surface scratching with a high gloss finish and shine. Interior reflects minimal soiling and wear with all equipment in complete working order. Vehicle has a clean title history. Vehicle will need minimal reconditioning to be made ready for resale. Because individual vehicle condition varies greatly, users of NADAguides.com may need to make independent adjustments for actual vehicle condition.

Clean Retail - Clean Retail values reflect a vehicle in clean condition. This means a vehicle with no mechanical defects and passes all necessary inspections with ease. Paint, body and wheels have minor surface scratching with a high gloss finish and shine. Interior reflects minimal soiling and wear with all equipment in complete working order. Vehicle has a clean title history. Because individual vehicle condition varies greatly, users of NADAguides.com may need to make independent adjustments for actual vehicle condition. Note: Vehicles with low mileage that are in exceptionally good condition and/or include a manufacturer certification can be worth a significantly higher value than the Clean Retail price shown.