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2003 Nissan Xterra Overview

The 2003 Nissan Xterra is no pretender. It looks like an SUV and acts like an SUV, in an era when such vehicles are becoming increasingly emasculated and suburbanized. The compact SUV built on a truck frame seeks lovers of an active lifestyle need something that can take the surfer across sandy beaches, the mountain biker up unpaved inclines, or the skier through a snowstorm. For 2003, the Xterra adds more options to improve performance in such conditions, such as a new tire pressure monitor, and optional traction and stability control. These go with the already standard ABS brakes and dual front airbags.

The 2003 Xterra comes in XE and SE trims in either rear-wheel or 4WD. The XE comes with a choice of a 143-hp 2.4-liter I4 engine (2WD only) or 3.3-liter V6 rated, getting a horsepower boost this year to 180-hp. A supercharged version is also available, hitting 210-hp. The SE comes standard with the naturally aspirated V6, but the supercharged engine is optional. A 5-speed manual is standard on the XE, and a 4-speed auto tran on the SE. Other new additions this year include 16-inch alloy wheels and step rails on the XE, previously only available as an option. The SE also gets a limited slip differential to help with off-roading performance, which is truly possible in the Xterra due to low-range gearing in the 4WD. New cargo nets in the headliner and 44-cubic foot cargo area add to the storage already provided by the adjustable roof rails and built-in basket.

Even though it's more rugged than the Pathfinder, you won't miss out on comforts such as power features, cruise control, a 6-CD player, leather-wrapped wheel, keyless entry, and steering wheel-mounted controls. All of these are standard on the SE and optional for the XE. Drivers love that they can take the 2003 Xterra off-road and that the storage (66 cubic feet with the seats down) is big enough to carry everything they need for outdoor fun. The sporty styling is also a big draw. Downsides are its underpowered engine choices, low fuel economy, uncomfortable seats that need more cushioning for the truck-like ride, and the plastic-looking interior materials.

Updated by Anonymous

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Nissan Xterra Questions

Xterra Won't Start

So, I got stuck last night for 3 hours because my Xterra wouldn't start. It did it a week ago and a mechanic told us to go out and unlock the trunk then lock unlock the driver side then lock the d...

Can I Change The Bodies?

Can I put a 2.4 body of an 03 Xterra with a 04 3.3 Xterra body?

Engine Shut Off While Driving

Daughters 2003 Nissan Xterra shut off while driving. Has lights and horn but will not start. What problem do we look for first. Ck engine light was on for knock sensor and o2 sensor.


Our Xterra has been overheating for about 2 years. We've gone through probably close to $10k and 5 mechanics, including the dealership. We've had the radiator and hoses replaced, head gasket seale...