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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am part of a small overlanding group that is mainly Toyotas and Jeeps. I don't have a vehicle of my own right now, and navigate for a good friend of mine, one of the Jeep owners.

I have been putting away money for an adventure vehicle of my own and I'm planning on making a purchase no later than the summer of 2021. I'm not looking for King of the Hammers or anything, but I want a very capable vehicle than can go wherever the others in the group go. I'm not a rich man by any means, but I've got a very healthy fund saved up for mods and upgrades for whatever I eventually buy. To the shock and dismay of my Jeep driving friends, I'm considering an Xterra in the 2013-2015 range and I'm hoping the people on this forum can give me some advice. Almost everything I know about 2nd gen Xterra comes from this forum, but I have some questions I couldn't find answers to in other threads.

(In my area, Pro4X Xterras 2013-2015 vintage w/ approx 60,000 miles cost about $18500 USD. S models same age and mileage are around $12000 USD.)

Ground clearance is very important to me. I need 33" tires at a minimum, and I would prefer 35"s. If I did a full Titan swap in the front, to mount 35" tires would the CV joints need a diff drop kit as well? Or even with the Titan swap, are 33"s the only realistic option for an Xterra?

From what I have read on this forum, an Xterra would struggle with 35" tires, so re-gearing is in the budget. I also want front and rear locking diffs. Since I'm going into the diffs anyway, can I get away with an Xterra S and ARB lockers as opposed to a Pro-4X with an aftermarket front locker? Can the axle shafts on the C200 be upgraded? Is the strength difference between the C200 and the M226 enough to make that necessary? Is it all that simple, or is there more to it that I'm missing?

Is there any benefit to the Pro-4X if I would be replacing all the suspension components, adding lockers, and regearing? It's not a matter of up front cost. Pro-4X models don't come on the market very often around here, and they sell quickly when they do. If an S or SV would be just as suitable with the mods I am planning, I would have more options when selecting a vehicle.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I appreciate my Xterra S for what it is, and a Pro4X is a very capable vehicle on its own. There are many on the forums which share offroading pictures with their X which continue to surprise me.

However, I accept the fact an Xterra has a limited support by the aftermarket and the cost of upgrading your vehicle can be costly.

Considering your desire to lift high, go with 35's, Titan swap,regear, front and rear lockers etc etc etc, I would suggest you go with a Jeep.

OEM to OEM I feel a Xterra is a much more civilized, comfortable, reliable vehicle. Nevertheless, if heavy modifications are your wishes, its difficult to dispute the fact that a Jeep has a huge support by the aftermarket with proven packages available for all your needs.

In so far as vehicle cost, you may save a little initially in vehicle cost by purchasing a Pro4x over a Jeep Rubicon, but the cost spent upgrading a Pro4x may exceed that of a Jeep in the long run.

Simply said, a Jeep is a better foundation to start with if your interested in "Hardcore offroading."
 

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I 100% agree with what Hunter wrote. I would also add since you run with Jeep and Toyota guys - buy a Jeep or Toyota. They can help you fix your rig, you may get gifted some unused mods, etc. Running an Xterra at this point - given they stopped making them 5 years ago, is a pretty lonely endeavor.
 

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There is a limit because of some fundamentals, so making Xterra Jeep-like with Tswap etc will add up and still have other limits like turning radius etc, some things will be more natural for Jeeps.
For versatility and inside experience I would pick Xterra.
For a compromise, I don’t know, thr more you change, the more you pay.

best you can do is drive one! One with a setup you are thinking about and compare it to your Jeep experience as a driver
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
TBH, the reason I'm looking into an Xterra is because I'm very reluctant to get a Jeep. I'm scared of the build quality. One of the reasons I'm more familiar with Wranglers is that I'm continually helping my friends fix theirs. And this might just be me, but they seem especially prone to nagging electrical problems. And if there's one thing I hate trying to fix more than anything else, it's electrical stuff. I'm not a mechanic, and all my vehicle knowledge comes from the Technical Institute of Trial & Error, YouTube Campus. What is a fairly straightforward job for some people is a serious PITA with lots of profanity for me, so reliability is important.

There is also the price. I've been tracking price for a little over a year now. A 2012-2015 4 door Rubicon averages about $1000 to $1500 USD more than a similar age Pro-4X, and with on average 2/3 more miles on it. Yes, the Rubicon has a better gear ratio, automatic sway bar disconnects, and comes with front and rear e-lockers from the factory, but I have reservations about the quality of the connections. The wiring failed on my friend's Jeep after only five years in, and the cost to repair it was so high, he said the hell with it and just drives it as open diffs. Not much value for money there. I asked a mechanic at a local 4x4 shop how common this was (full disclosure: he's a Toyota driver) and he laughed and said fixing Jeep e-lockers is how he pays for his kids' braces. I know, Jeeps have the live front axle, but that's not a huge factor for me.

Surprisingly, there is very little difference in price between Rubicons and Saharas in that age range, but an Unlimited or Sahara is an Xterra S with a 3.21 gear ratio, no roof rack and lower long term reliability. I would have to do almost the same mods to get the results I want (lift is easier though, I'll give you that).

Yes, the aftermarket is much bigger. Where I can find two vendors for Xterra bumpers, I can find four for a Toyota and 20 for Jeep, but I have found almost no difference in price, like +/- 8 points, max. When I first started crunching numbers on this, I thought the broader range of Jeep suppliers would mean more competition and lower prices, but it really doesn't. Bolt ons with the features I want cost pretty much the same for all three, Xterra, 4Runner, and Wrangler. And believe it or not, there are things I can buy for an Xterra that I can't get for a Jeep, like Hep Designs door panels and Raingler gear lofts.

My run away first choice is a 2000 Limited 4Runner with e-locker and multimode T case, or a 2008 Trail Edition with locker. Those 'yotas are bullet proof. They go forever. They ride great, excellent visibility, lots of cargo room, retractable glass in the tailgate (if I had a dollar for every time my sister's Jeep rear window has sagged and hit me in the back of the head...) and you can get parts north of 60, but I have a better chance of finding Bigfoot riding a unicorn. People who own 3rd & 4th gen 4Runners up here just don't sell them. They drive them until they pile up.

So if I have to get a Rubicon, then I have to. But if I can get an end product damn similar in an Xterra (and preferably an S model to boot) then I have more money to spend on tires and camping gear, and can budget less for repair parts.

All that said Hunter, Bioburner, and Idn88, you guys know these vehicles and I appreciate your feedback. I've read a lot of Hunter's other comments on this forum, so if he's talking - I'm listening.
 

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If you choose an Xterra, start a build page so we may follow your upgrades.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I read that you don’t like Jeeps.
But you like Xterras because you don’t know them.
Ok it’s settled, Xterra it is. Just keep on reading and asking as you search for t he right one
Maybe that was harsher than I meant. A Jeep is capable as all get out, and let's face it, they look great. I don't mean to disrespect Jeep owners, not at all. A Jeep just isn't "me."

I had a 1st gen Xterra some years ago, and I loved it. It was my intro to overlanding. I know several others with 1st gens, so I have confidence in Nissan overall. The 2nd gen puts up really good numbers on all the long term reliability studies I have seen, and the popularity of the Frontier platform means there will be plenty of long term parts support. But the VQ40 is a different animal than the VG33 and there are plenty of other differences. That's why I'm consulting you guys.

In response to your earlier questions, we don't do a whole lot of rock crawling, and not particularly difficult stuff, but we do a bit. As time has gone on, our group has been drawn to more and more out of the way trails, places that are deeper in the back country and harder to get to. We see stuff like wash outs and river crossings and more mud than I'd prefer. The real reason I want my own vehicle again is that I miss having a project of my own. It's fun to help friends with their vehicles, but I miss being able to try out my own experiments and modifications. I don't miss driving near as much as I miss planning the build.
 

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Test drive if you can an Xterra, even on pavement from a dealer.
Or if someone is selling it locally (like you see it here), get some driving exposure that way.
I had a Jeep Cherokee, kept it stock, then Grand Cherokee, then Xterra 2007 then Xterra 2015. While I have been curious about Wranglers, never enough to even test drive. If I knew someone with one, yes I would drive it, but in the meantime I have enjoyed Xterra. 277k (totaled when we met a horse) on 2007 and 127 on 2015.

Highway miles mostly, no changes to suspension/outside on my 2007, and on 2015: leaf springs, 2" lift (1" from leaf springs, 2" from shackles), 1" front raise, 600lb front coils, 140lb front bumper

I wanted a highway driver that feels good off road. And mods as long they don’t mess with my 80mph.
These days 1500 mile weekends are a thing of the past but still I value my highway performance even if I am down to 16mph and even less with my open front (aftermarket bumper)
 

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Window motors slow down and stop working (I had one replaced near 200k), wheel bearings wear out (those too), fabric develops holes, scratches, accidents, things stop working, expensive fixes ignored, etc etc...
I wasn't planning on replacing my 2007 but with the impact on Friday, shopping the next day........ newer sure feels nice!!

Wranglers and Xterras have a unique look and behavior, if you like Xterra, go for Xterra! Everyone here has, and kept one for quite some time. Lots of things to build, above, below, inside, front, back! Lots of personalizing! And this is the right place to get ideas.
 

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I am on the outside looking in at this conversation. It honestly looks like you have your mind made up and prefer the Xterra. As others have said, get in one nearby and take it around the block a time or two. Better yet, if any members here (near the OP) would like to volunteer to take him off the paved road in the Xterra, this would be the best way to make your decision.

I chose my Xterra recently over the FJ Cruiser, 4Runner and Rubicon solely based on two points.
1) Price vs Mileage as compared to those other choices.
2) The fact Xterras are not wildly popular in my area. (I like to stand out).

I am sure once you make your purchase, not matter what it is, you will both love it and regret it at the same time. It's human nature.
 

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The suggestion for a Jeep was based on wanting to run 35's and rock crawl. You can get there with an X, but it takes a lot of time and money. Lets start with the fact that a Jeep is Solid Axle in front from the factory, and only maybe a handful of people have ever SAS's an Xterra - and it would be 100% custom. You don't need a SAS - but its obviosly a better choice for rock crawling on 35's.

An Xterra is the perfect vehicle for me - in stock trim or with a mild lift it will get you all kinds of crazy places and can still be used as a comfortable daily driver / family vehicle. But that wasn't the OP's original indication. Everything is a trade off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The suggestion for a Jeep was based on wanting to run 35's and rock crawl. You can get there with an X, but it takes a lot of time and money. Lets start with the fact that a Jeep is Solid Axle in front from the factory, and only maybe a handful of people have ever SAS's an Xterra - and it would be 100% custom. You don't need a SAS - but its obviosly a better choice for rock crawling on 35's.

An Xterra is the perfect vehicle for me - in stock trim or with a mild lift it will get you all kinds of crazy places and can still be used as a comfortable daily driver / family vehicle. But that wasn't the OP's original indication. Everything is a trade off.
I should probably specify the kind of rock crawling we do. It has happened a few times now that the trail we're following has been covered by a rock slide and we go over a stretch about 20-100' where the trail, such as it is, weaves a route that travels over rocks around 5-10" in diameter. That's probably Texas pea gravel for the folks in Utah. It's not something I plan to do a lot of, and will avoid it if I can, but I want to be able to traverse it if it comes to that. I would really like 35's for the extra clearance, not to mention how important clearance is in the snow.

But as you say, is it feasible?

I have to choose between spending a lot of money up front on an Xterra that should give me very few problems over the next 10 years, or spending less up front on Rubicon but considerably more in maintenance costs in the future. If I can do it by modifying an S or SV, then I think it's doable. But if the C220 and R180 just aren't up to the task, then the numbers tilt towards a Jeep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am on the outside looking in at this conversation. It honestly looks like you have your mind made up and prefer the Xterra. As others have said, get in one nearby and take it around the block a time or two. Better yet, if any members here (near the OP) would like to volunteer to take him off the paved road in the Xterra, this would be the best way to make your decision.

I chose my Xterra recently over the FJ Cruiser, 4Runner and Rubicon solely based on two points.
1) Price vs Mileage as compared to those other choices.
2) The fact Xterras are not wildly popular in my area. (I like to stand out).

I am sure once you make your purchase, not matter what it is, you will both love it and regret it at the same time. It's human nature.
I could get a 5th gen 4Runner or FJ, but as you say the price to mileage ratio rules them both out.

I can't find the 3rd or 4th gen 4Runners I would prefer, and between the Jeep and the Xterra 'm not going to lie to you. I would prefer the Xterra. Jeeps look awesome but I have more confidence in the quality Xterra. I'm just not sure if the mods I believe I need pass the cost / benefit test as compared to a Rubicon.

I have been taking different models of Xterra and Rubicon out for test drives, and I have even been able to talk the odd salesman into letting me take them off road down some of the tracks in the industrial are of town. It's not I true test, I know, but it at least lets me compare how the standards shift going up and down inclines off road, how they ride over uneven terrain, and such.

Given how close the Pro-4X is to the Rubicon in my area, if the only way I can do what I want is by starting with a Pro-4X, then maybe the Jeep is more cost effective over the life of the vehicle. That's an answer I hope I can get here.
 

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I had my Cherokee for 2 years and then I was backing up parking uphill a big boat and smoking the clutch a bit in summer...
Stick shift.
The crankshaft sensor overheated and failed and car wouldn't start, only by compression (running start) and then not even so.
100mile tow the next day, after an emergency drive/pickup...... it complicated.

So I think about that when you mention electrical problems. This one I caused, but.... what kind of electrical problems have you dealt with Wranglers? Ignition kind? Not just lights/accessory?

You can go up to 42 inch tires with Wrangler, why stop at 35? :)

Your last decision maker statement was -- cost effective.
You had pros/cons for both.
I think in time the answer will come to you. Which would be more enjoyable? Go anywhere, or feel it's a better feel for your overall?
 

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Another towing issue I had, I stalled the engine just pulling a trailer and it wouldn't start..... fuse
Same car.
Another tow. I probably caused that too with a too fast of an acceleration and jerk between gears, thats' what stalled it, when i was resuming from a total stop.
 
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