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Nissan Debuts Enhanced 2002 Xterra; Offers Supercharged Engine, New Styling, Refined Interior

Nissan revealed an enhanced 2002 Xterra at the 2001 Chicago Auto Show in February, a mere two years after the first Xterra burst upon the SUV scene in the U.S. The new Xterra, featuring dramatic front end styling, a supercharged V6 engine option and a totally revised interior with a new instrument panel, will go on sale nationwide in August 2001.

When Xterra came out in 2000, it rewrote traditional SUV categories, said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. The 2002 model makes it clear to our competition, which has become formidable over the last few years, that were not resting on our laurels. The new Xterra can just plain do more on- and off-road than it could before.

More Style

All 2002 Xterras feature new front end styling that gives the Xterra a tougher, more familial look. Round headlights with a thick surrounding frame set the tone of the vehicle and a new front fascia with the Nissan flying V grille and round fog lights complete the rugged face of the Xterra.

A new hood, with a 48mm raised power bulge center section, clears the way for the supercharged V6 and lends a muscular, powerful look echoed by the signature Xterra front fenders with large flares. New 17-inch wheels with off-road 265/65R17 tires complete the look of supercharged SE Xterras, while 16-inch wheels with beefy 265/70R16 tires are available on XE and SE Xterras.

New exterior colors include Shock Blue, Sedona and Molten Lava, and new trim colors have been added. XE receives black trim around the headlights and grille, with a silver roof rack, step rails, wheels and front lower fascia. SE models come with a dark titanium finish on all exterior trim, accessories and wheels.

Xterras new styling gives the vehicle even more confidence than it had before, said Kirrane. Its new look gives a hint at the huge improvements made to Xterra under the hood and inside.

Xterra was originally designed at Nissan Design America, Inc. (NDA) in La Jolla, Calif. with all 2002 refinements designed and engineered at Nissan Technical Center-North America in Farmington Hills, Mich. (NTCNA-FH).

More Power

Optional on both XE and SE Xterras is a factory-installed supercharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. This engine, shared with the Frontier S/C compact truck, produces 210 horsepower and 246 (A/T), 231 (M/T) lb-ft of torque. It uses a Roots-type blower developed in conjunction with Eaton Corporate and is fully warranted by Nissan. Xterra is the first compact SUV to receive a factory-installed supercharged engine.

Contrary to our strategy with Frontier, where the supercharged engine is part of a larger package, the 2002 Xterra offers the supercharged engine as an engine option, said Kirrane. This is in keeping with Xterras motto of everything you need, nothing you dont. The 2002 Xterra buyer will find that the supercharged engine option is surprisingly affordable and gives Xterra more character.

Supercharged Xterras are available in 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Final drive ratios on supercharged Xterras have been optimized to correspond with tire and engine changes.

The supercharged engine joins the current engine lineup: the popular 170-horsepower SOHC 3.3-liter V6 and a 143-horsepower DOHC 2.4-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder. A 5-speed manual transmission is available in 4-cylinder and V6 models, with a 4-speed automatic transmission available on V6 models. Xterras equipped with the 4-cylinder are 2-wheel drive only, while V6 Xterras are available in 2- or 4-wheel drive.

More Interior and Amenities

Perhaps the biggest difference between 2001 and 2002 Xterras is the revised interior. We wanted to keep Xterras interior just as durable as before, but add a more modern look and feel, says Kirrane.

A new instrument panel, with three cockpit-style round gauges give a sporty look while adding ergonomic efficiency. SE gauges are a blue gradient color, while XE is a gray gradient. New HVAC controls and a new console with a side map pocket add style and practicality. A 25 percent larger glove compartment, a map light with integrated compass (SE), new pullout rear cup holders and four interior power points continue Xterras well-established reputation for practicality. New seat fabrics, with a new darker gray and special charcoal for supercharged SE models, are Xterra durable. Also standard are variable intermittent front windshield wipers and rear window wiper.

Another major change is the replacement of the dash-mounted pull-and-twist parking brake with a more traditional foot-operated pedal system.

Optional on XE Xterras and standard in SE is an 8-speaker audio system with an in-dash 6-disc CD player.


From a safety standpoint, the 2002 Xterra comes standard with dual stage front supplemental air bags. This new system senses seat belt use and collision severity and deploys the air bags accordingly. Also standard on all Xterras are new rear child seat anchors, called LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren).

Many of Xterras interior enhancements are shared with the 2002 Frontier compact truck lineup.

More Enthusiasm and Options

When we tested Xterra in focus groups, we were told that it was definitely not a grocery getter, like some of the smaller SUVs currently on the marketplace, said Kirrane. In fact, its got a cult off-road following that was previously only seen among Jeep owners. Were feeding that cult with a new Enthusiast Package a 2002 Xterra that provides the perfect foundation for a hard core off-road enthusiast to make the vehicle of their dreams.

The Enthusiast Package is available only on XE V6 4-wheel drive models and includes ceiling tie clamps, a first aid kit, tilt wheel, fog lights, front tow hooks, map lights, a limited-slip differential, manual locking hubs and rubber floor mats.

Other option changes for the 2002 model year include the availability of the Power Package on 4-cylinder Xterras and the deletion of the sunroof as standard equipment on SE Xterras. Optional on XE Xterra is the Utility Package, Power Package, Sport Package and Audio Package, which includes the premium audio system. SE Xterras feature all packages offered on XE as standard, with only the Sunroof Package as an option.

The 2002 Xterra remains the compact SUV by which all others are measured, said Kirrane. Its the real deal lifestyle accessory.
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