• New Rumblings about a Nissan Xterra Replacement, Jeep Wrangler JL Towing and the best car for under $20,000? [Ask Nathan]

    video trivia toyota corolla nathan adlen

      • Nissan Xterra Replacement?
      • Towing with a two-door vs four-door Wrangler JL?
      • The best college kid car for under $20,000?

    The first question comes from a viewer who has asked (many times) over the past few years if there will be a Nissan Xterra replacement. Sounds like he just received bad news.

    2005 Nissan Zaroot Concept


    Q: What’s going on with Nissan?

    I know you guys covered this before, there’s been a development. I talked to a dealer near Las Vegas, NV and he said that Nissan has no plans to build another off road capable SUV, NO Nissan Xterra Replacement! That means no dice. I am so bummed about this and I am a big fan of the Xterra and I just traded my 2015 for a Nissan Frontier. I literally stole the Frontier for nearly 25% off! But I wanted a Nissan Xterra Replacement. As long as it’s as good as the old one.

    I hope the guy is wrong and I hope Nissan and Toyota keep off roaders in mind in the near future.

    Hope you and the boys had a good new year.


    A: Thanks for the email!

    Yes, I believe we did cover your question (here) a little while back.

    This is the Nissan Zaroot Concept SUV from 2005

    I was a big fan of the Xterra and the previous generation Nissan Pathfinder. Currently, there have no updates on a replacement Nissan Xterra. It seems that they are sticking to crossovers for now. The only off-road-capable SUV Nissan currently has is the Nissan Armada.

    With that being said; Nissan has not forgotten their truck roots, they are putting the finishing touches on an all-new Nissan Frontier. That might explain the delay for a proper Nissan Xterra replacement. The last Xterra was based (mostly) on Frontier bits.

    So, there may be hope.



    This next question comes from a fan who is curious about the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s (JL) towing capabilities.

    Q: Hi guys from cold Montreal, Québec, Canada.

    Love you’re video’s and all , watch it every night before sleep on my iPad.

    Just a question about the new Jeep JL towing capacity’s , why does the 4 door tow 3500pds and only 2000pds for the 2 door ?

    Same powertrain, only diffence I saw was diff gear ratio (4.10, 3.73) does this explain the 1500pds difference ?

    Maybe one other thing, 2 hours side by side review of the JL was not that fun, 4 guys running around cutting in and out, repeting the same information or not, was just missing stucture and planning a bit, sorry but that is my opinion,

    Tks for all you do, love it


    A: Greetings Luc!

    Thank you for the email. We hope you are warm and safe!

    The three (main) reasons the two-door JL tows less than the four-door is length, weight and gearing. Short wheelbase vehicles tend to be a bit squirrely when loaded up. Front ends lighten up and directional stability becomes compromised. The front brakes and  gearing are issues too.

    The bottom line is that Jeep built the Unlimited with the idea that it can hold more people and tow more. We’ve towed with both (JK) vehicles and the Unlimited is a much more stable platform to two with.

    As for your critique of our side-by-side comparison video: I agree with you. Four people popping in and out was too many. I fault our excitement of having the JL and trying to produce as much as we can in a short amount of time.

    We constantly try new things, sometimes new ideas don’t work very well. Still, we can’t learn and evolve if we don’t make mistakes.




    The last question comes from a fan who wants to know what my choice would be for the best car for under $20,000.


    Honda Fit

    Q: Hi TFLcar team! Gotta ask Nathan an important question. 

    If you had a $20,000 budget and were told you need the best vehicle for under that price, what would you get? I’m going away to school to finish my last few years and I need something that will not only work well for school, but for my life after school.

    My last car, a 2007 Golf was okay. It broke down often. I had to pay a lot for upkeep but it was pretty roomy, but it was not reliable enough for me to feel free about driving across country. My school is the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and my family lives in Baton Rouge, LA.

    What do you think will work for a girl who wants to have something solid and reliable. I have a dog too. She always rides in the back and seemed happy in the VW.

    I would truly appreciate it if you could tell me your choice. If I were your daughter, what would you suggest?


    Rebecca M


    A: Hi Rebecca!

    My answer is the Honda Fit. It is, in my book, the best vehicle in its class and a perfect vehicle for college students. The interior is remarkably utilitarian and the engine has decent power. You can get a well equipped one for under $20K and they are known to be pretty reliable.

    I’m sure some of our readers will have their own recommendations too.

    Hope that helps!


    Here’s a fun 0-60 video!

    Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

    From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

    Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    7 thoughts on “New Rumblings about a Nissan Xterra Replacement, Jeep Wrangler JL Towing and the best car for under $20,000? [Ask Nathan]

    1. Xterra was one of the last off-road SUV’s. Sadly it was never very good. The first Gen was a disaster, and the second gen not good. Like so many models Nissan just let it go. For example the Second Gen bottomed out so bad from start to finish that it would self destruct, they never bothered to fix it. I could not wait to get rid of my 05, just too delicate. Hoping the Bronco will do something exciting so we will be back to 3 choices for an SUV (Four Runner, Wrangler, Bronco) Its increasingly looking like we may only be able to buy American SUVs and Trucks in the future as the Japanese remain convinced Americans don’t want 4x4s.

    2. The Nissan zaroot concept looks exactly like the Honda Element. The Nissan exterra was an amazing off road vehicle but the interior was beyond horrible and uncomfortable I think the 09 Pathfinder was a better vehicle as far as comfort and off road ability was concerned and the Xterra if you wanted to go all out that was the vehicle

    3. Will say again I love my 2016 Chevy sonic sedan LT loaded all options I have the 1.8L and I’m getting 35.3 mpg. in a year and a half of ownership not a single problem at all no hick ups what so ever great room large trunk and due to my credit being shot because of school loans and only putting 500 down I walked out paying $21k 300 month if this helps hope everyone has a great new year.

    4. LOVE the website, especially the Jeep-related stuff. Kudos on the towing capacity question, today. Adding to that: my old CJ-7, with its 93″ WB practically gave me a heart attack towing a 16′ StarCraft aluminum boat (poorly loaded with too much weight up front). No roll-mit, or anything like that. The JK s/b better and the JL better than that. Still, 2,000 seems on the light side.

    5. Nissan seems to be developing an NP300 derived SUV, as all the global midsize truck makers have. The main markets seem to be east Asia, Oceania, Australia and parts of Africa.
      the only way that Nissan SUV would come to the US, is if we get a version on the NP300, rather than a reworked D40 Frontier. Even then, it seems like a hard sell.

    6. So sick of Jeep. My 98 Cherokee has 411k miles on it and still blows these soccer mom V6 ” jeeps” outta the water. First car I ever bought at 19 years old and at 40 today she sits next to a 70k dollar MDX that can’t hold a candle in the inclimate weather. Jeep died after the last 4.0 left the assembly line in Toledo. Now it’s just flat out embarrassing seeing these jacked up turd mobiles with decals everywhere trying to impersonate jeeps of yesterday.

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