Should You Take the Nissan Xterra Off-Road Off Road?

The Nissan Xterra is well-suited for going off-road, whether you’re following an old path or blazing a new one.
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Nissan Xterra Off Road
is Nissan’s best SUV outfitted for the trail and beyond. It can handle a casual jaunt up a trail or a more extreme off-road task if you’re a true off-roading enthusiast.
If you’ve got adventure on the mind, a good off-road vehicle is essential for your next trip. The world has never felt bigger than after you’ve left the paved roads behind, but which vehicles are best-suited for off-roading and which ones are just for show?
We’ll look at some of the basics, like ground clearance and torque, and how those factors affect the off-roading experience and talk about alternatives to consider if the Nissan Xterra Off Road ultimately isn’t right for you. 
Make safe driving pay
Get rewarded for safe driving. Earn points and unlock benefits. Totally free.
Start earning now

Can the Nissan Xterra Off Road go off-road?

Yes, the Nissan Xterra Off Road lives up to its name and is well-suited to go off-road. While not as popular as a
Toyota 4Runner
or a
Jeep Wrangler
, the Nissan Xterra Off Road can handle anything you throw at it at an affordable price point compared to other off-road vehicles.
The Nissan Xterra Off Road starts at $23,660 and shares the same frame as a
Nissan Frontier
. A truck’s frame is designed for rugged performance, so as you can imagine, the Nissan Xterra Off Road has a frame more than capable of delivering off-road performance.
Surely there are more reasons why the Nissan Xterra Off Road is well-suited to off-roading, right? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details on what makes this vehicle so well-adapted to life off the road.

Ground clearance

One of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect of an off-road vehicle, is its ground clearance. The Nissan Xterra Off Road has a ground clearance of 9.5 inches, which makes it more than suitable to take off the road.
Vehicles that are best designed for off-roading have a ground clearance between 8.8 and 10.8 inches. With a high ground clearance, you’re free to tackle even the roughest terrain without fear of damaging your car’s undercarriage. When you compare the Xterra Off Road’s 9.5-inch ground clearance to the off-roading king
Jeep Wrangler’s
ground clearance of 9.7 inches, it’s clear that the Nissan Xterra Off Road can hold its own on the trail.


Off-road vehicles need to pack a lot of power at low speeds, so you want to see a high low-end torque on your vehicle—that’s lots of torque at lower RPMs. Turning power matters far more than speed when you’re off the road, so low-end torque is important for a good trail experience.
The Nissan Xterra Off Road has a 4.0-liter V6 engine that has a maximum torque of 281 lb-ft @ 4000 RPM. It’s not the most powerful, but it’s enough to get you through your adventure without a hitch.


Your Nissan Xterra Off Road comes with a set of sturdy P265/70TR26 tires. Not sure what that means? Let’s break it down.
This is a set of
all-terrain tires
, which are designed for drivers who like to off-road but also need to use their vehicle as a daily driver on paved surfaces. They don’t last as long as all-season tires, which increases your ownership cost, but the open, aggressive tread pattern gives you more traction than you would have otherwise.


Two-wheel drive is a big no-no for off-roading. You need 4WD or AWD for off-roading so each tire can gain traction independent of the other. Thankfully, the Nissan Xterra Off Road comes standard with 4WD.


Hopefully, you paid attention in geometry class because angles are very important in off-roading, especially the approach angle and the departure angle:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
This is another area where the Nissan Xterra Off Road doesn’t outshine its competitors but holds its own in a slightly less glorious capacity. The approach and departure angles of the Nissan Xterra Off Road are 33.2 and 29.4 degrees respectively. You can handle some more serious rises and dips, but you’ll probably want to stay off giant rocks at angles like these.

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

We’ve rated the Nissan Xterra Off Road using
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The Nissan Xterra Off Road earns a T rating. This is an affordable alternative to more serious off-roading vehicles. You might miss some interior comforts and technology though—Nissan didn’t skimp on power or off-road readiness and instead made the price cuts inside the cabin. If you’re really serious about off-roading, the Nissan Xterra Off Road is easy to mod with some off-roading kits to improve the approach and departure angles. 

The best off-road alternatives to the Nissan Xterra Off Road

If you’re not sold on a Nissan Xterra Off Road, there are other options for you to consider. Maybe you want something that’s a little more comfortable on the inside or has a more competitive technology package.
These are the best alternatives to the Nissan Xterra Off Road, regardless of your reasons.
Best affordable alternative
2020 Nissan Frontier
If you’re looking for a little more engine power for not much more money and the same frame as your Xterra, the Nissan Frontier is the answer.
Best name-brand alternative
Toyota 4Runner
The Toyota 4Runner’s stats match that of the Nissan Xterra nearly toe for toe but has a more comfortable interior and better infotainment options.
Best high-end option
Nissan Pathfinder
With a towing capability of 6,000 pounds, the Pathfinder is all power. Choose the 4WD option to get the following drive options: standard, sport, eco snow, sand, mud/rut, and tow.
MORE: Cheap off-road trucks
rating reverse-full
"I’m earning
awesome rewards
every week, just for driving safe!”

How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

One thing to consider before purchasing a vehicle with off-roading capabilities is the increase you’ll pay in
car insurance
. Off-roading is risky for your vehicle, even with the greatest specs and best mods. Insurance companies will definitely charge you more for a vehicle like this.
Still dreaming of off-roading? Download the
app to find the lowest rates on your off-road vehicle. Jerry is a
licensed insurance broker
who’s partnered with over 50 insurance companies and can compare quotes from its vast network in just 45 seconds.
The average Jerry user saves $800 per year or more on their car insurance, and you could use the savings to mod your off-road vehicle until it reaches your dream specs! 
“After I bought my new car, the insurance companies tried charging me $315/month.
, on the other hand, found me full coverage for only $220/month. Thank you!” —Mari E.
Thousands of customers saved on average $887/year on their car insurance with Jerry
This app is great, but the customer service is even better! Not to mention convenient! My husband and I got the lowest rate (much lower than the rates I was finding online through my own searches), quickly, and pretty much all through text message! Thank you so much for a hassle free experience👍
Gabriella R.
Find insurance savings
rating primary
4.7/5 Rating on App Store
Are you overpaying for car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings