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Old 03-12-2011, 12:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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possibly the most non-aerodynamic ? (Nissan Xterra)

I honestly think that the Nissan Xterra has to be one of the top 5 most non-aerodynamic vehicles Ive ever seen...
for those who live in FL, they know about the system that crossed the state yesterday, well, I got caught in it while doing some errands. the speed limit on the major roads near me are 65mph, so when I saw the storm front about to come over me I decided to turn off and take an alternate route, which the spd limit is 55mph, on 2 lane rd, but hardly any traffic (maybe see 3 cars every 5 miles)
anyways, so Im on this road, traveling 50mph in expectations of the storm, and when it hit all I can say is I am damn glad I did so, even at 50mph when it hit I had to fight hard, much more than any other vehicle Ive ever driven, to keep it on the road ! (and Ive driven through a couple of cls 1 and 2 hurricanes before !)
when the storm passed and I was at home, I took some time and really looked over the Xterra and I have to say I was more than a little alarmed about how poorly thought out it is in its design.
the only thing I can say good about it was that it did not hydroplane easily, and that it truly is one of the more comfortable rides on long drives. other than that...
the aero is abysmal, the gearing is set so high that it revs over 3k @ 70. (and the engine is far and away strong enough to handle at least a 1k drop at that speed)

I have decided I can do without it and am selling it, or trading it. hoping to pick up a protege5 as Ive always really liked them, they are very reliable and I know Mazda's very well.

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Old 03-12-2011, 01:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Yup, looks like it. Haven't seen one personally (I think) but it looks very tall and heavy. Has a square front. roof racks. ride height. fender gap. looks un-aerodynamic alright.

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Old 03-12-2011, 10:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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well, I got it for a more family friendly type of vehicle, I used as a trade my 99 ranger XLT that had the supercab (4 door extended cab) but was just so darn cramped for space that using it for family outings was ridiculous.
anyways, mine sits different than stock, the previous owner raised the front end to match the rear ride height. so it sits level from front to back (from the factory the front sits roughly 1" lower) and not sure if that attributes to its poor handling in the storm or not.

my goal for the vehicle was to give it a 3" drop all around, frontal partial grill block, e-fan, and headlamp covers to clean up the front end, then a kambak and maybe even a boat tail extension. I already removed the racks as I wont use them. and I was even thinking of something I could attach to the roof to give it a better transition (and remove that hump)
but I think this is a failure before its even begun, and doubt I can see any more than a 2-3mpg gain, if that.
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
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but I think this is a failure before its even begun, and doubt I can see any more than a 2-3mpg gain, if that.
I wouldn't say it's a failure. As you said the additional room was needed for your family. 2-3MPG's might not seem like a big number, but when you start as low as the xterra's 16MPG city and 20MPG highway you will see a bigger savings $$$ compared to the same 2-3MPG's on a civic.
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My guess is the previous owner's mods caused most of your poor handling. Raising the front end will cause the front end to lift from changed air flow patterns, allowing the SUV to wander. Strong crosswinds will make it much worse.

I'd test drive a stock one on a windy day to see if you can live with its handling. Then make your keep/sell decision. I don't believe Nissan's engineers and wind tunnel testing would turn loose a majorly dangerous lemon. I do believe a previous owner could do some incredibly dumb things to screw up a vehicle's handling.
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Return to stock specs. Suspension mods for looks are always dumb, the price to be paid shows up in more than handling woes.

I live in one of the windiest places in America, the Texas Gulf Coastal Bend. Steady winds of 25-mph are not uncommon, nor are days like that with gusts to 40 and 60. 80 mph is when it gets your attention. Wind turbines and wind surfing. For drivers -- especially big trucks and those towing travel trailers -- good handling is paramount. Dead-center steering, poor tire transient response, etc, all play havoc at the wrong moment.

We've had several Jeep Cherokees so I feel I know what you are talking about.

One of the true trailer towing experts recommends tires of a width no greater than rim width, and a shorter sidewall where load ratings are the same as OEM recommendations, all for improved solo and towing road performance. Tall tire sidewalls combined with jinxed suspension is bad news.

Glad you are okay.

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Old 03-14-2011, 11:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SentraSE-R View Post
My guess is the previous owner's mods caused most of your poor handling. Raising the front end will cause the front end to lift from changed air flow patterns, allowing the SUV to wander. Strong crosswinds will make it much worse.

I'd test drive a stock one on a windy day to see if you can live with its handling. Then make your keep/sell decision. I don't believe Nissan's engineers and wind tunnel testing would turn loose a majorly dangerous lemon. I do believe a previous owner could do some incredibly dumb things to screw up a vehicle's handling.
I agree with you here, the truck loves to wander even on dry surfaces, especially when there are grooves in the road from heavily loaded dumpers. I also noticed that the PO hadnt had an alignment done when they raised the front, as the front tires have a positive camber, instead of a neutral/negative camber. which Im sure is the main culprit.

but still, with gas prices as they are and projected to climb even higher, its just better for me to get something that starts out getting 30-35mpg, then Im pretty confident I can push that over the 40mpg mark much easier than trying to break into the mid 20mpg with this vehicle.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, the Mazda 5 is only a 27-28 mpg highway estimated hauler. If you're looking for something that seats 6 and has a 30-35 mpg highway rating, I don't think it exists.

If you only need to seat 5, a Prius is the obvious choice.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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not sure about that, I know a guy that used to own a protege5 and he avgd 33 hwy with just regular driving habits. his city mileage is about 25-28mpg with a manual, but in city he uses pseudo-hypermiling techniques, such as letting it coast to stops and such, he just isnt real light footed on acceleration
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Anybody can beat the EPA using a light foot & keeping speeds down. But you were talking about taking a 30-35 mpg car & getting 40 mpg out of it. The Mazda 5 is a 27-28 mpg (hwy) car similar to my SE-R, so 37-38 mpg is the best you can expect consistently on hwy trips. I don't think there are any 6 passenger vehicles rated 30-35 mpg hwy. The Prius-V should do it, but it's not out yet.

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Longest tank 1033 km (642 mi) on 10.56 gal = 60.8 mpg
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