NEW FOR 2015:

– S adds new display audio system with NissanConnect Apps
– New colour: Solar Flare Yellow

For 15 years, Nissan has provided off-road and outdoor enthusiasts with the perfect mode of transportation, the Xterra. But that ride is about to come to an end, as 2015 marks the final year of production for this compact truck-based SUV. Blame high gas prices, a dated design, and a change in buying tastes of the public for crossovers like the uber-popular Rogue and Pathfinder.

Before production wraps up in Mississippi, the Xterra introduces two changes. The S model receives Nissan’s corporate display audio system with a 5.0-inch screen, NissanConnect Mobile Apps with text-messaging assistant and Bluetooth streaming audio. The PRO-4X gains a (bright) new colour: Solar Flare Yellow. It’s a nice tip of the hat, as yellow was previously a part of the Xterra colour pallet in previous years.

Riding on the F-Alpha platform that underpins everything from the Titan half-ton pickup and full-size Armada SUV, to the Frontier midsize truck, the Xterra is as tough as they come. All trims use a 4.0-litre V6 engine that develops 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque; the S trim receives a five-speed automatic as standard, while the PRO-4X gets a six-speed manual as standard. The PRO-4X’s optional automatic is a five-speed unit, but gets an off-road oriented final-drive ratio, plus hill-descent control and hill-start assist.

Despite its age and the fact that the design has gone a decade since its last full redesign, the Xterra remains a reasonably well thought out vehicle for those with an outdoorsy lifestyle. Useful details including an available flat-folding front seat, wipe-down cargo bay with pickup-inspired latch-down points, hidden storage, and a roof rack that’ll hold up to 150 lb of mountain bikes, surf boards, and other gear. And yes, you can still get an integrated first-aid kit.

Nevertheless, it’s a time trip back to 2005 in terms of the driving experience. The Xterra’s handling is decidedly truck-like, and the ride is choppy due in part to the short wheelbase and live, leaf-sprung rear axle. This is especially so with the PRO-4X, which features off-road Bilstein shocks.

Features on the S include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, tubular roof rack with covered gear box, crossbars and air dam, tubular step rails, rear bumper steps, front tow hook, heated mirrors, privacy glass, tire pressure monitoring system, power windows with auto-down driver’s side, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control, illuminated steering wheel controls, ancillary gauges (voltage, oil pressure), overhead console storage, tilt steering column, sun visors with vanity mirrors, four 12-volt power outlets, variable intermittent wipers, rear wiper, cargo channel system with tie-downs, under-floor cargo bay storage, eight-way manually adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, four-way manually adjustable front passenger’s seat, cloth upholstery, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and 5.0-inch six-speaker display audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3, satellite radio, aux-in jack, USB port, NissanConnect apps, text-messaging assistant, and Bluetooth.

The PRO-4X deletes five-speed automatic and adds close-ratio six-speed manual. Adds machine-finished alloy wheels with off-road tires, electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, automatic headlights, roof-rack-mounted off-road lights, skid plates, black side mouldings, fog lights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with exterior temperature display and compass, cargo net, first aid kit, leather upholstery, heated front seats, flat-folding front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with contrast stitching, white-faced instruments, embroidered floor mats, 380-watt Rockford Fosgate nine-speaker audio system, 5.8-inch navigation display system, and reverse camera.

When ordered with the automatic transmission, the PRO-4X also includes transmission cooler, hill descent control, and hill start assist.

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