Review: 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X – Perfecting the Traditional SUV

2013 nissan xterra pro-4x colorado

Nissan Xterra was first introduced to the American market in 2000.  Back then it was all about simplicity, utility, and 4×4 capability.  Since then the Xterra saw a refresh in 2002 and a second generation SUV for the 2005 model year.  The 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X is entering its ninth year mostly unchanged.  Of course, the PRO-4X off-roading package, which was introduced in 2011, is a welcome addition.  Nissan has kept the Xterra laser focused to its original idea.  Read on to find out what other tweaks Nissan added to the 2013 model.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Nissan Xterra PPO-4X $30,490 $31,925 261 / 281
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: LEASE IT! 15 / 20 Combined 17 Combined 15.3

First Impressions

I applaud Nissan for keeping the Xterra simple and utilitarian.  This SUV has what you need and nothing more.  Driver’s seat is manually adjustable – no little buttons or bulky electric motors here.  The off-roading purpose of this SUV is clear, even without the PRO-4X badge on the rear.  It sits tall on beefy BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires.  It has no clearance robbing running boards, and there are those serious off-road lights up on the roof.

2013 nissan xterra pro-4x profile articulation


The 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X is all about business from the outside and the inside.  It has a very unique profile with large squared off wheel arches and a stadium like step in the roofline.  This is not a large SUV, but there is plenty of room on the inside.  For the 2013 model year, the Xterra gets new “PRO-4X” embroidery on the seats and an updated Nissan navigation system with rear-view camera.


The original 2000 Nissan Xterra had a choice between a 143 horsepower 4-cylinder and a 170 hp 3.3-liter V6. The second generation saw the introduction of the 4.0-liter V6 with 261 horsepower and segment leading 281 lb-ft of torque.  This is a huge power improvement over the original.  The test vehicle had a 5-speed automatic transmission, but you can still get a 6-speed manual.  Thanks for that – Nissan!  The Xterra is rated to tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs, which is not too shabby.  However, this big V6 is showing its age and turns out to be relatively hungry.  Poor fuel economy is Xterra’s achilles heel.

2013 nissan xterra pro-4x engine v6


The Bilstein off-road shocks work exceptionally well over rough and  bumpy terrain, and also happen to offer a smooth on-road ride.  I was surprised how quiet and smooth the Xterra is on the highway at 75 MPH.  You would have no problem driving for an extended period of time to find your favorite off-road playground.  I took it to the same off-road trail where we test all of the SUVs and trucks.  I noticed that the PRO-4X soaked up the rocky sections with ease.  It also has very good articulation.  I took it all the way to the top of the washed out trail, and I never needed the added protection of skid plates underneath.  This truck has great ground clearance.


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Nissan Xterra $22,940 15/20 261/281
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited $25,995  16/20 285/260
2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser $26,880  16/20 260/271

Nissan took a very aggressive action and sliced the starting price of the 2013 Xterra by $2,540 to $22,940.  It’s difficult to argue with this price.  The PRO-4X model starts at $29,440 and adds all the off-road goodies: 2-speed Hi/Lo transfer case, electronically locking rear differential, hill descent control, and hill start assist.  I used all these bits on my little off-road adventure and I can say they work well and did not let me down in tough situations.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Nissan Xterra Pro-4x a Lease It!  I really like this traditional off-road SUV, but I cannot give the highest Buy It! rating due to its poor fuel economy.  I averaged 15.3 MPG over a week of driving (including the off-road adventure).  I know there is a price to pay for the awesome off-road ability, but I average 19.2 MPG in the 2013 Wrangler Unlimited (also including the off-road trail run, although I went half-way in the Jeep).  If do not drive much and can live with poor economy, then this is a Buy It.  I am crossing all my fingers and toes in hopes Nissan brings a diesel version of the Xterra to United States.  That would be unstoppable.

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Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.