So we got a 2012 Nissan Xterra Off Road

So we got a 2012 Nissan Xterra Off Road

There are a lot of stereotypes floating around about “which is the best offroader” when it comes to dune-bashing. Many automatically say “Toyota Land Cruiser” or “Nissan Patrol”, with a few naive ones even adding in “Jeep Wrangler” and “Land Rover Defender”, generally by people who’ve never been off-road in anything more than a desert-safari ride. The truth is there is no such thing as the “best offroader”. But if we were to make a list, we’d put the Nissan Xterra Off Road edition above any of the aforementioned trucklets.

The way it looks says it all. The Xterra has shorter front and rear bumpers than most 4x4s, and it has a steeper approach angle and more ground clearance than the latest Toyota Land Cruiser.

When we were pounding on it offroad, hitting rocks, bushes and random metal rods sticking out of the ground, we came to appreciate the strong unpainted bumpers. The Off Road model even gets special shocks and meatier tyres

The interior is a pile of hard plastics, but that’s expected at this price nowadays.

But it remains a completely practical wagon-type SUV, without the unwieldy multi-piece tailgate of the Jeep Wrangler or the awkward rear half-doors of the Toyota FJ Cruiser.

So does that mean the Xterra is a better vehicle than the Lexus LX 570? Not in the slightest. The Lexus can handle most offroad situations while still retaining the cushy luxury of a Bentley. But if the perennially-stupid question of “which is the best offroader” came up, we’d take the relatively-cheap Xterra anyday for worry-free dune-bashing. More in the full review.

What do you think?



  1. By best 4×4 people don’t mean transmission, ground clearance or how door opens. By best 4×4 people mean “Offroad ability” + “Space” + “Comfort” + “Ease of maintenance” = “for e.g.Pajero”. Mitsu doesn’t charge like Landrover it does most of things in a good way, what a common man wants, if few people can understand that.

    • exactly what v6turbo said

    • Pajero costs less. But the spares and maintenance cost is very high. You can research about it or ask any Mitsubishi owners.

      And also off road ability does include ground clearance and a reliable and tough transmission. Mostly automatic transmission consider by the UAE people you don’t want some transmission that can overheat in the dunes.

      I doubt comfort cannot be an option for an off-roader. Just my opinion I love to have the conventional leaf springs on an off roader which will provide a very bumpy ride but I get the feeling of long life for the suspension there.

    • Didn’t read what i wrote above properly, its clearly written for e.g. pajero, their are cheaper alternatives. Yes in UAE mostly people prefer automatic, and as well as 7 seaters, even the X which mash has tested above, and the recent landcrusier, lexus , patrol, wrangler, prado that mash has recently tested all were automatic, not one vehicle which he has mentioned above stopped with heated transmission over dunes. Nobody is a nerd to go offroad daily, we have offices to go, its only once in blue moon so lets talk about automatic transmissions and vehicles which people can afford. I own a Pajero, i do all major services at dealer, and minor ones at patrol pumps, i don’t find it any expensive than a typical Toyota or Nissan. I also go offroading frequently, nothing broke, nothing went wrong, you have to follow the rules thats it, rest of the things Pajero takes care of itself very well. Finally when is say people don’t mean….. i means people don’t mean specific things, people mean all the things , bang for buck.

    • Yes. You mentioned For E.G Pajero but said Mitsubishi doesn’t charge like Land Rovers. Yes it doesn’t charge like LRs but comparatively Mitsubishi Parts is costly whatever it is which I think is the dealer.

      You might not go off road everyday neither do I. When the vehicle hits the dunes I have seen few with overheated transmission. You can see the light comes ON and it wouldn’t get into gear. When me and my friends go off road (which is very rarely) we just make sure we have one manual vehicle mostly the Y60 series Patrol.

  2. The Pajero does not come in the same category as a Xterra or FJ or Wrangler.
    The Pajero comes into the category of the Pathfinder, Prado or a Base Cherokee.
    And being an avid offroader, I would chose the Prado or Cherokee over the Pajero ANY DAY.
    The Pajero is a good every day driver, but not as good an offroader as the Prado or even the Pathfinder.

    The Xterra has good power, but the build quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    • being an avid off-roader, as a driver or a co-driver? Have you even driven the Pajero over the dunes my friend? Ever heard annythin like “power-to-weight” ratio?? Yes, the Pajero is far behind the Prado in terms of “horsepower”, which is not even a point of consideration with regards to off-road driving. Prado has a rear live axle and slightly better wheel articulation. However, Torque, torque build-up over the rev range, transfer case system superiority and power-to-weight ratio is the Pajero’s plus. I have personally driven the 4.0L Prado, 3.8 Pajero and the 3.5 Pajero (all LWBs) off-road; and the 3.5 Pajero kicks the asses of all others!

      The Xterra is an excellent package for an off-roader; but its low-end torque is crap – which forces to driver to keep flooring it all the time. Torque builds up only from about 2.5 to 3 rpm, n tats poor – though the power flow is immense beyond 3 rpm.

      about the Cherokee..either you are talkin about the Grand Cherokee, or about the old Cherokees which the cops in Sharjah used to have..if not, then I have nothing to tell you..

    • hello there hellboy,

      I am torn between buying a new paj 3.5 and a paj 3.8
      Based on your experience, would you recommend the second option if I’m looking for better on-road experience?

      Thanks in advance 🙂

    • ^^^^ Both the 3.5L and 3.8L are very good off-roaders. However, the 3.8L comes with rear differential-locks, that would matter if you are into some serious off-roading, and in scenarios where you get stuck with two diagonal wheels freely spinning in the air. On the road, the 3.8L is faster. Test drive both, you will get to know the difference.

  3. “i don’t find it any expensive than a typical Toyota or Nissan.” which hole are you living in?? 25k service for Xterra cost 355, 25k service for pajero cost 600.
    20k service for X cost 550, 20k service for pajero cost 800+..How do i know cos i own an X and a friend own a 3.5SWB pajero.
    stop being biased one said it was better than a pajero, so stop being offended.

    • As i said earlier, i won’t go to dealer for everything and it doesn’t cost me much. Like you own x i own Pajero, so it works fine for me. I think Vivek bought a Pajero, Interesting feedback for Pajero here people, “Prado and Pathfinder are better offroader” may be Vivek can explain, i am very happy with my swb.

    • I dont visit the dealers at all, minor or major. And yes, Mitsubishi parts are expensive than that of Nissan; but that said, Mitsubishi does not require parts replacement as frequently as others do, as they are more durable.

      And in a crowd where mostly everyone knows only about “horsepower”, I do not wish to speak about any other aspects of a four-wheel-drive vehicle or even general off-roading. It is just futile.

    • Another thing is, there is no point comparing the Pajero and the Xterra. Pajero has always been built as a family vehicle with excellent off-road capability; while the X has been built with only one purpose in mind – off-roadability! And that never means the Pajero cannot go where the X can.

  4. I own a Paj too – and agree that the service cost is too high.. but that’s what happens when you cut margins on the product and try to make up for it by increasing service revenue.

    So you get a good buy at a discount, but pay for it later.

    I buy my own oil and goto the Dealer every 10,000km. Cost me about 650aed (incl oil) for every 10,000km.

    I am happy with that.

  5. I have an xterra that i am very happy with, although i have not taken it “real off roading” i used to have a jeep cherokee and have duned in the dunes of the UAE. I hope that one day when i move back to UAE i can take my xterra to the desert. But i do know i took my friends Pajero to the desert the other week, the ground clearance is rubbish, bent her back bumper on the first incline, and that wasnt even advanced driving.

    • that is more of a design flaw. The ground clearance isn’t rubbish; it is just that the X has bumpers designed and fit in a manner where off-roadability is given the priority. Pajero, on the other hand, was designed to be more visually appealing (they screwd up the rear bumper with tat stupid hollow plastic lip), while possessing the ability to traverse almost anythin the X does.

    • and did you know that a bull-bar with tow-hook point can solve this issue? it costs about 250 Dhs.

  6. love how the pajero fan boys have come in to defend the car they bought instead of choosing something else.
    ‘best offroader’ term is subjective. what is the best offroader for one will be complety different for another person.

    • i agree with your elaboration on the subjective term ‘best offroader’.

      But when the Pajero fan boys chose a Pajero, they did not want to spend the price of an Audi on a cheapo Toyota and risk their lives anyway with those failing electronic gimmicks, they did not want to spend on an Xterra which is a superb off-road vehicle and a crappy on-road vehicle with zero comfort, and did not want to invest in a Pathfinder which boasts a plastic-tub interior for a premium price and offers 2nd row seats which is more or less a joke in comparison to the competition. They wanted to get something that is fairly comfortable, very off-roadable and very reliable “family” vehicle. Ofcourse, fuel efficiency and ancient engine technology are its minuses; but they are indeed the best balance you can find for the money you pay.

  7. Quite true chirs, i love the way these people say there is no such things as best, and then every year all over the world in different places and different categories and different award ceremonies, they decide, car of year, suv of year, small car of year, top 10 fuel efficient cars, top 10 4x4s, best convertible, most reliable cars, top selling cars in world and finally they award a particular car for e.g

    Jeep Cherokee as the best SUV, and finally they say there is no such thing as best and its driver skills that matters, why buy, a Suzuki jimny then, as it can put to shame any Landcrusier out there in normal terrain , but again on a very high dune Landcrusier will traverse at it has more power and Jimny will roll back, now you really would need driver skills because you will have to get down in middle of desert and push your Jimny with your driver skills, there is always something called best, average and worst. Whether its examination, real life, vehicles, food so that’s why you have something called recommended cars, favorites list all those one thousand ceremonies to find out the best and make a top 10 list etc. All cars cannot be good nor all SUV’s. Finally its upto people, everybody has right to express their views, read it, follow if you like or buy what you like, it’s your money, if you make a wise decision, you are a happy man, if not then you cry with your choice, if the vehicle you bought gives you 100% satisfaction, then who cares, what the neighbors or friend bought.

  8. Fortuner is far more better than Pajero in the dunes…. 🙂

    • for sure you own a Fortuner and for sure you haven’t driven the Pajero. Fortuner is capable, but not something I would prefer over the Prado or Pajero. Apart from dirt cheap maintenance and commmendable fuel-efficiency, there is nothing the Fortuner fanboys can brag about..

    • YES your right i own one and NO you are wrong i driven a pajero a couple of times in the dunes,it is more prone to be immobilized in a steep and inclined places. I think the design is the reason behind moreover pajeros transmission gears easily heats up compared to the fortuners. MOST

    • that is one thing that is extremely tough to believe..I did not encounter transmission overheating with Fortuner..but yes, experienced that with Prado several times, when we had the Prado stuck in hot sands for anytime more than 5 mins..Never experienced it with the Pajero too, not even once..we had got the Pajero stuck in a nasty manner (driver error) and it took us abt 2 hours to get it out; temp was abt 44 degrees and arnd 3 pm…the sand was hot as hell; but the Pajero, which was axle deep, never got its transmission heated…

  9. I can see hellboy owns a Pajero.

    Nothing to be ashamed about mate.

  10. brought me here & i hate it

  11. mash, big fan of urs but u couldnt be more wrong on ur wrangler statement. still the best in the dunes, see car ratios in all notable offrd clubs in the region. reliability is a different story though. had a tj myself for years out here..

  12. Guys a. Looking for an suv that has a good price,comfortable on the high way on road and powerfully in offroad and pulling yachts. I love the wrangler exterior but does it match all what I said ? And if not can you Please recommend for a good suv which has mOst of these features? Thanks for the helP

  13. Mash, still waiting for the full review!

  14. Hi Looking for the cheapest offroader (with manual gears…I simply love driving a manual..have been doing so for over 8 yrs).
    Will use it as my primary car for home to office and occasional long drives with light offroading if I come across the need when on a long drive.
    Can any u folks advise the cheapest SECOND HAND suv which is cheap to maintain over the long term?
    I liked the Pajero but it only comes in automatic.
    So far the only manual tranny suv available in 2nd hand is teh wrangler…which I love but scared of the maintenance costs.

  15. i own an xterra for past 5 years and done 190000 km on clock mostly on road (rarely off road too).. its the best.. not even spend on it other than regular service .. its a totally reliable car..

  16. in my opinion, nothing is better than the manual wrangler and patrol for serious offroaders . But for daily driving , get a Camry or an accord because they are so comfortable and last for long in hot weather special in UAE . But as a off-road car I think they cant be more comfortable and faster than normal cars at the road for a daily driver specially in the high ways . Am really thinking of buying a car good in highways and offroading but I dunno what to choose between pajero , wrangler , f j or x terra

  17. Wow Paj boys on the defensive, I currently have a 3.8 Paj and frankly its not that good either on road or off road, I previously had an Xterra which handled better, was faster and twice the car of road in the sand. Never tried a Prado or LC, but I do know on very long dune treks in and around the inland sea in Qatar my X was the only unmodified vehicle that got with and stayed with a few very modified vehicles. On road the 4 litre engine blows any Paj to pieces and that includes the handling. I will be going back to an X when my Paj lease is up. Dont mean to upset anyone and car choice is subjective to the individual but Paj boys you need to get real, its no match for the X in speed, handling,comfort, on and off road ability.This is real and genuine personal experience and not heresay from a friend which I suspect a lot of the nonsense being said is.

  18. Sorry also forgot to add the X is a lot tougher as well, that plastic at the front and rear is surprisingly tough, the interior appears very basic but is basic in the same way a VW is, it will still look the same in 10 years cos its built tough. Try hitting a vertical sand incline at speed in a Paj – youll take the front off – not the case in an X

  19. i think prado is the best as mid SUV car

  20. hi guys, planning to buy something which i can use as an off roader as well as for my daily driving. How about Xterra?? Is it costly to maintain an Xterra??

    • If the plan is to buy brand new, go for a sedan. For your off road tastes, buy an old off roader. Make the total price equal a new off roader. Makes perfect sense to me… 🙂

  21. How could you compare the Xterra with a Pajero, guys? Seriously! If I were an Xterra, I’d really be offended!

    Referring to some comments from above:

    1. Couldn’t agree more regarding the maintenance costs. “I don’t take it to Mitsubishi” is not a valid counter-argument.

    2. Agreed that the Pajero can reach all the destinations where the Xterra reaches. But would it be able to travel the same path???!!!

    Oh and yes, this comes from an Xterra owner who is a regular off-roader (mostly dunes) and who has taken the Pajero (my brother has one) also off-road on various occasions.

Browse archives

Share This