The Best Cheap 4×4 SUV According to MotorTrend

There’s something to love about a 4×4 SUV that is both capable and cheap. But it seems like those kinds of vehicles are becoming somewhat of a rarity. Thankfully, there is still one off-road SUV that is fairly affordable and comes with a pretty solid community that backs it. The vehicle comes from a Japanese car brand, and no, it’s not Toyota. According to MotorTrend, as a 4×4 vehicle, the Nissan Xterra has a lot going for it. 

What is the Nissan Xterra?

The Xterra is an SUV that was offered by Nissan from 1999 until 2015. It has two generations and comes with legitimate 4×4 capability. For the most part, it is seen as a reliable vehicle thanks to its Japanese heritage. And you can find one with things like low-range four-wheel drive. 

You might be wondering why the Nissan Xterra is such a cheap 4×4 SUV. And the answer is simple; it’s not a Toyota. Toyota’s from this era come with something known as the “Toyota Tax.” If you want something like a 4Runner or even the FJ Cruiser, you are going to pay a premium. That’s not necessarily something that you will face with an Xterra. Especially the first-generation model. 

The Xterra is an off-road SUV with a V6

Under the hood of the Xterra lies a 3.3-liter V6 engine. Most models produce 180 horsepower and 202 pound-foot of torque. According to MotorTrend, that might seem underpowered for a 4×4 SUV that weighs about 4,000 lbs. 

A 2007 Nissan Xterra is a cheap 4x4 SUV according to MotorTrend.
Nissan Xterra | Adumbvoget

In 2001, Nissan must have realized that the Xterra deserved more power. It added an optional supercharged VG33ER engine which produced 210 hp and up to 246 lb-ft of torque. If you find an Xterra with the supercharger, it will likely cost more than the standard V6 engine. 

Of course, not every version of this 4×4 SUV comes with a V6. The standard engine was a four-cylinder. 

Does the Xterra have a manual transmission?

One of the biggest selling points of the Xterra might be its manual transmission. Among off-road enthusiasts, a standard transmission is a sought-after feature. It gives you more control over your vehicle, especially in 4×4 situations. 

Manual transmissions also have a lower rate of failure than autoboxes. And that is because they are less complex. 

Which Nissan Xterras are the cheapest?

First-generation Xterra SUVs will be one of the cheaper options. The first-gen Xterra lasted until 2005, and you can typically find one for less than $10,000. The best route to go might be to find a base model with the V6 and manual transmission. In doing so, you can save on the actual SUV purchase and spend more on off-road upgrades. 

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If you want a lifted SUV, you will need to budget for a lift kit. Another thing to note is that the Nissan Xterra has an open front differential. If you really want to get serious about off-roading, you will probably want to upgrade that to something more robust. 

But overall, this 4×4 SUV remains a good value. That is until enthusiasts start giving it more attention.