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11 Best Old-School SUVs


2015 Nissan Xterra
Base-price range: $24,520 – $32,500

Nissan’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler is a midsize-class, four-door SUV that shares its basic design with the Japanese maker’s Frontier pickup truck. Unlike the Wrangler, you can order an Xterra with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The 4WD system has an electronic transfer case, but it’s also part-time, meaning it can’t be left engaged on dry pavement. The sole engine is a 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 unit that pairs with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, which bests the Wrangler by 1,500–3,000 pounds. All 4WD Xterras are quite capable off-road, but those with true wanderlust will want to pick the rugged PRO-4X model. It includes roof-mounted off-road lights, 10 cargo area utility hooks, and is available with a plastic-coated cargo floor that can be easily hosed off when dirty. An electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, and available hill start assist allow the Xterra PRO-4X to tackle most any off-road situation. Its built-in navigation system will ensure you don’t get too lost. If you don’t need heavy-duty hardware, other Xterra models will give you a similar look at a cheaper price. This is a surprisingly good value for the money and is worth a look if you want an SUV but are on a budget. Just make sure you have some money left over for gas as EPA city/highway combined fuel economy ratings are 17-18 mpg.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]