Very special people will drive the Xterra and enjoy and appreciate its possibilities. It is built for those individuals who like to challenge life—the norm is not acceptable to them. Climbing the face of a smooth stone cliff, biking along the Yucatan Coast, or mudding in their Xterra is what gives these achievers an adrenaline rush.
Couch potatoes, fat boys like me, or after-lunch-nappers may not be attracted to this wave of power from the 24-valve DOHC V-6 and the 261 hp plus engine that give Xterra its identity. This identity costs about $35,598, completely loaded.
Xterra strength starts from the underweight but strong, fully boxed, ladder frame. The high tensile-strength steel in key areas, which is 90 percent stronger and 22 percent lighter than conventional steel, allows this solid frame to manage rugged terrain. Xterra's steel, double wishbone, front suspension and stabilizer help soak up even the nastiest sharp rocks and riverbeds. Off road models perform with benefits from Bilstein off road shocks. Large disc brakes at all four corners and a G-sensor that recognizes the type of surface you're driving on will apply brake pressure accordingly. Most vital components are tucked above the frame level. Strategically placed skid plates offer protection from rocks below.
Late one night, after a Dallas Mavericks game, a beautiful lady in the parking lot was getting in her SUV. She stopped and looked at my Xterra and asked questions about the vehicle as she walked toward me. I told her exactly what I have written above. She smiled at me and looked toward her truck and said, "If only I could find a man as rugged and attractive as your Xterra." I smiled, sucked in my stomach, and tried jutting out my chest as I waved goodbye.
I averaged about 14 L/100 km the week I drove the Xterra. I drove the vehicle on hard surface roads and never took it off-road. I didn't fight or ride bulls, cling to sides of mountains, or view the eruptions of Kilauea Mauna Loa. But I did watch television, mastered the remote, ate several bowls of chips with a Dr Pepper, and managed to be in bed by 9:30 p.m.
The day I was to turn in the Xterra I had a delightful 'old man's" experience. I was stopped at a red light, when up beside me pulled a bright yellow Xterra. The college-aged blonde beamed as she rolled down her glass. "Like your truck," she said in her best Valley Girl dialect. I kind of smiled, trying to show my best teeth, hoping the skin hanging off my chin wasn't too abundant. "I bet you are going to have an adventuresome summer. Like your Xterra?" she continued. " Yeah, I like to off road up near Durango. And this summer I am going to do a little spelunking in New Mexico, and then fish for Marlin off Baja. Couldn't do it without my Xterra," I said.
"Wow, you rock! You look like a man who enjoys adventure," she concluded with a wave. I just smiled and waved goodbye. Then I got to thinking about cold, dark caves and big fish, which caused me to develop a headache. Boy, could I use a bowl of chips and a nap. Then I stuck my head out the window and in the air I could almost smell the excitement of a west Texas rodeo.
That young lady was right. I "Rock."