The Nissan Xterra is a lot like that friend you had in high school who knew from age 5 exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. This vehicle has never struggled to find its niche; from the start, its mission has always been clear. The Xterra is an SUV for buyers who like the crunch of gravel under their tires, a purpose-built fun machine for those who seek their thrills in the great outdoors.
From the inside out, the 2007 Nissan Xterra is primed and ready for when the paved road ends. It offers up to 9.5 inches of ground clearance, and underbody components are neatly contained above the frame. Low gearing helps the ute shine when the agenda calls for rock-crawling, and the rear differential can be locked at the push of a button. Electronic Hill Descent checks speed when tackling steep descents, and a Hill Start Assist system keeps you from rolling backward should you need to stop while ascending a slope.
On-pavement handling is agreeable, if not overly refined. This is a vehicle that won't leave you jostled, sore and irritated after a long road trip. The Xterra's rack-and-pinion steering is dialed in to the road, and its 4.0-liter V6 is fast and responsive.
If off-roading is merely something you glimpse on ESPN as you switch channels in search of Oprah, then you'll want to pass on the Xterra; you'd be better served by a car-based SUV like the Honda CR-V, which offers superior on-road comfort. But if you're an urban adventurer looking for a ride that holds its own both on and off pavement, you'd be hard-pressed to find a choice that delivers more than the 2007 Nissan Xterra.