Getting Rugged in the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X SUV


For 7 days, my family and I went off-roading in the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4x SUV way up deep into the mountains with no signs of humanity for miles. Well, actually we didn’t, we only drove over to Monterrey, CA, but in my mind, I imagined taking the Xterra up into the mountains using the 4×4 the entire time. We did head to the beach and got a little sand inside the Xterra but for the most part, we stayed ON the road.


The Xterra is truly a vehicle built to go camping or up into the snow or somewhere where you can take advantage of the 261 horsepower V6 engine.


This 4.0 liter, 24-valve engine is made to climb and to haul and the body of the Pro-4X is built to withstand twists and torques of merciless mountain roads as it is built with high-tensile strength steel. And if you get stuck in a particularly awkward situation, you can turn on the locking rear differential to give balanced power to your rear wheels. And you have the option to use a dial to switch from 2-wheel drive to 4×4 High on the fly. If you need to go into 4×4 Lo, you do need to stop.


The Xterra Pro-4X is not a car about technology, in fact, I found the tech within the cabin to be pretty limited and not too intuitive. There was no navigation but there was satellite radio as well as Bluetooth connectivity to connect your smartphone. But for the most part, that was about it. But this SUV is not about tech, it is about raw off-roading performance. You aren’t going to get great gas mileage either. I believe that we got about 16-18 miles to the gallon on average.


Below is a video walk-through of the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X (which is also available on YouTube directly):


Also, if you want to see more pictures, you can view my Flickr set or watch the video slideshow below (also available on YouTube):


The Pro-4X seats 5 people quite comfortably and there is plenty of room for luggage and gear in the back. Also, there is a roof-rack, standard on the Pro-4X, where you can put lots more camping gear. And, to protect your gear from branch scratches, there is a pop-up lid to allow you to stash more gear.


As part of the Pro-4X, there are off-roading lights that are part of the roof rack. The cover pops off to provide added lighting for when you are deep in the forest or driving off the beaten path at night.


There is a no-frills interior that seems to be pretty dirt and stain-resistant. It was quite comfortable. Honestly, leather wouldn’t really make sense in a vehicle that seems to be made to get muddy and dirty. And the rear seats fold down (independently) in case you want to stash extra-large gear.


And the rear cargo area has compartments to allow you to separate where you want your gear to go. And, since the area is hard-plastic, it’s a lot easier to clean than having cloth would be.


Clamped on underneath the car is a full sized spare tire which is critical to have when you are off-roading. You really wouldn’t want a puny and wimpy little emergency spare tire if you are away from civilization!


Here are some other highlights of the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X that I believe are worth mentioning:

  • 4.0 liter, 24-valve, V6 engine (261 hp & 281 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm)
  • Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)
  • 6-speed manual (4×4 only) available or 5-speed automatic transmission
  • Electronic locking rear differential
  • Hill scent control & hill-start assist
  • ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution)
  • Bilstein off-road performance shock absorbers (4×4 only)
  • 16″ x 7″ aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Skid plates for the oil pan, fuel tank and 4×4 transmission
  • Fog lights
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system (4×4 only)
  • 9 high-performance speakers with subwoofer & SiriusXM satellite radio

All of the models of the Xterra have the same, important set of safety features, including:

  • Nissan Advanced Air Bag System
  • Driver & front-passenger seat-mounted side impact air bags
  • Roof-mounted curtain air bags
  • VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) with TCS (Traction Control System)
  • TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

Overall, the Nissan Xterra is a solid and rugged off-roading performer, at least as far as I can tell. While I did not take it up into the mountains, from the driving that I did do, it does seem quite capable. While it is not as refined as a high-end automobile, the feel that you get when driving the Xterra is that it will be able to get you through some grueling courses and get you there in comfort, AND with all of your gear, given the ample storage space inside and on the roof rack.


For those looking for fun SUV as a weekend warrior, you should definitely consider the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X. The base price is $30,720 and the price as tested topped out at $31,910 (which simply included floor mats and an iPod interface). At that price, you can go in your off-roading glory and still be able to pick up a jet ski or a pop-up trailer to haul behind it!

Disclosure Text: Apart from the 7-day loan of the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X, I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.

HTD says: Traveling in the 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X definitely gets my camping itch going and the Xterra would be in that short list of SUVs I would take!

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1 Response

  1. No idea how the Pro 4x is different than other xterras. 7 days and didn’t climb a mountain. Useless review.

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Disclosure: This is a global disclosure for product review articles on HighTechDad. It does not apply to Automobile reviews and there are other exceptions. Therefore, it may or may not be applicable to this particular article. I may have a material connection because I may have received a sample of a product for consideration in preparing to review the product and write this or other content. I was/am not expected to return the item after my review period. All opinions within this and other articles are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.

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Michael Sheehan (“HighTechDad”) is an avid technologist, writer, journalist, content marketer, blogger, tech influencer, social media pundit, loving husband and father of 3 beautiful girls living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This site covers technology, consumer electronics, Parent Tech, SmartHomes, cloud computing, gadgets, software, hardware, parenting “hacks,” and other tips & tricks.

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