2011 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X

I had never heard of this particular trim level of the Xterra, the PRO-4X, but it turns out that it's new for 2011, replacing last year's Off-Road trim. That makes sense, because one glance at our test vehicle was all it took to know that this is the one that's maximized for off-roading. Specifically, the PRO-4X offers the following equipment, as described in the Xterra media kit:

Roof-Mounted Off-Road Lights in the air dam, silver headlight inner color, black bodyside molding, fold-down front passenger seat with backboard, unique gray/red cloth seat fabric, sunglasses holder (overhead console), PRO-4X badge on tailgate and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Unique PRO-4X performance equipment includes P265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A off-road tires, rugged 16-inch wheels, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist (automatic transmission only), electronic locking rear differential, high performance Bilstein gas-filled shocks and oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case skid plates.

For 2011, the Xterra SE has been dropped, leaving three simplified trim levels: Xterra X, offered only with the 5-speed automatic; Xterra S, offered with either the 5-speed auto or a 6-speed manual; and Xterra PRO-4X, also available with either gearbox. The only available option is the PRO-4X leather package, which our test vehicle had and which gets you some quite comfortable front buckets with black leather and red stitching.

It was fun and refreshing to get into a traditional 4x4 SUV. The Xterra is an old fashioned SUV that's been updated reasonably well. The Xterra has far better steering feel and body control than it did when it debuted back in the 1990s. It's not a crossover and doesn't pretend to be; it's trying to be a rugged, outdoorsy vehicle and I think it pulls it off quite well. It's affordable, it's reasonably satisfying to drive. The engine is adequate; there's nothing special about it, nor should there be, really.

The Xterra looks very appealing both inside and out. The integrated footstep in the rear bumper, the plastic rear cargo compartment liner, and the substantial roof rack with integrated driving lights are all tools for someone who actually uses this SUV as an SUV. Good for them, I say.

It's a simple, honest, 4x4 for people who still want that.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

I agree with Joe that this SUV does not pretend to be anything more than the outdoorsy vehicle that it is. I do feel though the suspension is a bit too roly-poly when driving quickly and cornering. Then again, part of the fun of off-roading is being bounced around.
- Kelly Murphy, Creative Director

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