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9 Cars Like the Nissan Xterra (Best Used SUVs for Off Roading)

Cars Like the Nissan Xterra

Although the Nissan Xterra only lasted for two generations from 2000 to 2015, it remains a great choice for off-roading adventures.

What makes it such a celebrated vehicle among active lifestyle junkies is the genuine functionality it offers for extreme activities.

But if the Nissan Xterra just misses the mark of your expectations for all-terrain utopia.

Checkout our list of cars like the Nissan Xterra that have been trail tested for going off the beaten path just as effortlessly.

We only considered SUVs that were produced within the same years as the Xterra.

1. Jeep Grand Cherokee (2008-2009)

Jeep Grand Cherokee (2008-2009)

Horsepower: V6: 210 | V8: 230 | Hemi V8: 325

Transmission options: Automatic

MPG: V6: 19 city / 26 highway | V8: 18 / 25 | Hemi V8: 14 / 22  

Ground clearance: 11.3-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 29.8 and 22.8 degrees

Towing capacity: 3,500 to 7,400 pounds

The Grand Cherokee is one of the oldest and most well-respected SUVs in existence.

Like the Xterra, the WK third generation Grand Cherokee doesn’t sacrifice interior comfort and aesthetics for an outdoorsy style.

And even better than the Xterra, it comes with your choice of three four-wheel-drive systems.

It also comes with your choice of three engines including a 5.7-liter V8 and a V8 Hemi.

For my money I would choose any Grand Cherokee after the 2007 model year.

By this time Jeep had worked out a lot of the issue plaguing the previous years in this generation. Unlike the Xterra your only transmission option is an automatic.

2. Toyota 4Runner (1998-2002)

Toyota 4Runner (1998-2002)

Horsepower: 150 HP 2.7-liter four cylinder | 183 HP 3.4-liter V6

Transmission options: 4 speed automatic | 5 speed manual

MPG: 16 city / 19 highway

Ground clearance: 9.1 to 9.8-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 36 and 29 degrees

Towing capacity: 3,500 to 5,000 pounds

For the third generation the 4Runner became bigger adding more of what aficionados had been requesting since the last generation.

This new 4Runner was introduced when SUVs were becoming more like luxury sedans.

As a result, you got more power, better cargo accessibility, new safety features and a more comfortable ride compared to the previous generation.

The third generation 4Runner’s sheet metal moves even further away from the Tacoma from which its derived.

And it’s 200 pounds lighter.

The four-link and live-axle rear suspension increases wheel travel by 1.6 inches on four-wheel-drive versions to help you bounce over boulders.

You can get the 4Runner in two or four-wheel drive configurations with all the mud-slinging and rock-climbing capabilities you can use.

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3. Hummer H3 (2007-2010)

Hummer H3 (2007-2010)

Horsepower: 239 to 300

Transmission options: four speed automatic | 5 speed manual

MPG: 14 city / 18 highway

Ground clearance: 9.7-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 39 and 36 degrees

Towing capacity: 4,500 to 6,000

As short-lived as the Nissan Xterra was the Hummer H3’s production years was even shorter. I love the H3.

If you need a vehicle with rock-climbing and stream-fording performance but you don’t want something as big or gaudy as the H2 and H1.

The Hummer H3 fits the bill nicely. It was built on the same chassis as the Chevy Colorado and TrailBlazer making it a capable off-roadable truck.

The smallest of the GM-engineered Hummers, you can get it as an automatic or with a 5-speed transmission.

You also have the option of a V5 engine or V8 in the Alpha trim level.

The interior is more ruggedized than what you’ll find even in Jeeps with rubber floor mats front and back.

And because it sits on the TrailBlazer platform, off road performance is surprisingly good with excellent approach and departure angles.

2006 H3s suffered from head issues which were resolved in ’07 which is the same year the H3 got a 3.7-liter engine

4. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (2010-2013)

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (2010-2013)

Horsepower: 202 to 285

Transmission options: 5 speed automatic | 6 speed manual

MPG: between 15 city / 21 highway

Ground clearance: 10.8-inch

Approach and Departure Angles: 29.1 and 38.7 degrees

Towing capacity: 1,000 to 3,500 pounds  

Introduced in 2007, the JK Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is much bigger than the two door Wrangler from which its derived.

It all adds up to a more spacious cabin. And like the original Wrangler, you can fold down the windshield with just a few bolts.

The two-speed transfer case and heavy-duty Dana axles are even beefier on the top-of-the-line Rubicon which is my wife’s favorite model.

Rubicons have lockable front and rear differentials along with their improved axles and transfer cases.

A key feature for off-roading is a disconnecting front anti-roll bar that provides on-pavement cornering control but can be disabled via a dashboard switch to improve off-road axle articulation.

This helps when playing mountain goat or transcending rocky riverbeds and banks.

5. Ford Explorer (2007-2010)

Ford Explorer (2007-2010)

Horsepower: 2010 to 292

Transmission options: 5-speed and 6-speed automatics

MPG: between 14 city / 21 highway

Ground clearance: 8.3-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 28.2 and 23.8 degrees

Towing capacity: 3,500

You’re going to be looking at the third and fifth generations Explorers if you want one of the same era as the Xterra.

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Although for my money the fourth generation Explorers tend to have the least issues. Those years would be my focus.

Introduced in 1991, there’s a reason why the Ford Explorer is among the bestselling SUVs of all time.

Base models are equipped with a 4.0-liter SOHC 12-valve V6 that produces 210 horsepower.

Or you can choose a 4.0-liter SOHC 24-valve V8 giving you control of 292 horsepower, the same mill powering the Mustang GT of the same vintage.

The Explorer is as gentile on pavement as it is going over boulders.

And like few sport utility vehicles in this class can say, there’s even third-row seating to bring even more of your friends along with you on the trail.  

6. Toyota FJ Cruiser (2009-2014)

Toyota FJ Cruiser (2009-2014)

Horsepower: 239 to 260

Transmission options: five-speed automatic | six-speed manual

MPG: between 17 city / 22 highway

Ground clearance: 9.6-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 34 and 30 degrees

Towing capacity: 4,700 to 5,000 pounds

Built for one generation the FJ Cruiser fits neatly within the Nissan Xterra’s production run.

Even though it had a short lifespan, it’s still a very much sought-after rig for hitting the trails.

2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014 were some of the best years for the FJ Cruiser. A throwback to the FJ40, it shares its platform with the 4Runner.

The FJ Cruiser has one of the best approach and departure angles on this list.

Like the Wrangler Unlimited the tall boxy shape and soft suspension serve best on off road conditions.

Inside, the build quality is good with plenty of storage compartments like the Xterra.

If you want the more powerful 260 horsepower engine, look for the 2010 and up FJ Cruisers which were updated with a 4.0-liter V6.

7. Mercedes M-Class (2008-2011)

Mercedes M-Class (2008-2011)

Horsepower: 210 to 503

Transmission options: 7-speed and 8-speed automatic

MPG: 18 city / 24 highway

Ground clearance: 8.5-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 27 and 25 degrees

Towing capacity: 4,600 to 7,200 pounds

What makes this such an attractive choice for off roading is the horsepower numbers on offer.

The ML320 SUV was introduced in 1997 primarily for the American market and met with much success.

To fit within the production years of the Nissan Xterra you’ll be looking at the first three generations of the M-Class.

The second generation has the greatest number of reliable examples. Not only did it become bigger increasing interior comfort.

It also addressed criticisms about the all-wheel drive system not being able to deal with heavy-duty off-roading stuff.

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It also got a unibody construction like every Mercedes making it stronger, 80 pounds lighter and reducing its height by 0.4-inches for an improved center of gravity.

8. Land Rover Range Rover (2001-2015)

Land Rover Range Rover (2001-2015)

Horsepower: 222 to 510

Transmission options: 4-speed; 5-speed; 6-speed; 8-speed automatics

MPG: between 11 city / 23 highway

Ground clearance: 8.7-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 34.7 and 29.5 degrees

Towing capacity: 6,500 to 7,716

Choose this SUV if you want even more off and on road performance and prestige.

Range Rover never fails to capture the attention of off-roading enthusiasts.

And what makes it such an enduring choice for off-roading is the fact that Land Rover is very careful about not messing with the formula that’s made it successful like its commanding driving position.

Nevertheless, JD Power scores it just below the Mercedes. The third and fourth generations fit within the Nissan Xterra’s production years.

The 2001 and 2009 model years are among the best Ranger Rovers.

But if you know anything about Land Rover reliability then you’ll understand why the newest models tend to be better.

The 2013 Range Rover is the world’s first SUV with an all-aluminum unibody making it lighter by a whole 700 pounds.

This of courses has increased fuel economy.

9. GMC Envoy (2006)

GMC Envoy (2006)

Horsepower: 291 to 300

Transmission options: 4-speed automatic

MPG: 16 city / 22 highway

Ground clearance: 8-inches

Approach and Departure Angles: 29 and 23 degrees

Towing capacity: 5,200 to 6,100 pounds

Completely redesigned for 2002, GMC added comfort, size and power to the Envoy name.

A platform twin to the Chevy Trailblazer, the GMC Envoy offers optional rear air suspension which balances out heavy loads which the Trailblarzer doesn’t.

Engine choices include an inline V6 or a 5.3-liter V8. Although the Envoy was built from 1998 to 2009, 2006 saw the least number of consumer issues.

The logic of using a luxury SUV for off-roading is questionable.

But by stepping up to the Denali version of the GMC Envoy you get the more powerful 5.3-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower.

Even if you don’t choose the Denali trim level, the Envoy is more upscale and features a more muscular exterior than its Trialblazer stablemate.