Towing with the Xterra
I just got back from a trip which involved towing a 6x12 U-Haul weighing about 3500's. While no where close to the tow rating of the X, it gave me a pretty good idea of how the X handles towing.
Here's my impressions:
Power: There's plenty for towing at this weight. On the flats and slight inclines, 6th gear and cruise control worked at speeds up to 75mph.
On larger hills, a downshift to 5th was all that was required. Cruise control would hold up to 75mph with out any problem.
Accelerating up to speed was a snap, especially once the engine was above about 3000 rpm's.
Technically, I could have left it in 5th the entire time, but I wanted a little better mileage.
Mileage at speeds from 65 to 75mph varied from a high of 13.5 to a low of 11.8. This is a 6 speed manual that is just past its break-in period.
Brakes worked well. The U-Haul has hydraulic surge brakes. I didn't test full bore stops, but stopping power seemed adequate.
Handling was good. The very responsive steering of the X requires a bit of getting used to, but it's no different than when it's unloaded. There was no sway evident, except after my first attempt to load the trailer. I had temporarily loaded a Dana 60 and 14 Bolt axle in the back half of the trailer to transport them a short distance before I reloaded the trailer. Once I reloaded the trailer, all was good. Weight distribution ended up being about 70% front and 30% back, so it was a bit front heavy.
Suspension: This is the only thing I can find fault with. The rear of the Xterra sagged more that I would have liked, but this is not unexpected. Overall sag was about 2 at the hitch. It was not on the bump stops and did not bottom out very often. I would run a weight distributing hitch at tongue weights over about 300's but these are not recommended with U-Hauls.
Overall, this is a pretty good little tow vehicle within its limits.