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2005-2012 Nissan Xterra

2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012

Rick Carlton has served as a professional automotive/motorsports journalist, writer, researcher, editor, and publisher for thirty years. He has also served as a press/media consultant for a range of professional motorsports organizations. He contributed several vehicle profile articles to Crutchfield's Research Garage.

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2005 Nissan Xterra

Overview of the Nissan Xterra

For the second-generation Xterra  Nissan increased the popular mid-sized SUV's overall size and upgraded the available performance and comfort content. The result was a big, spacious vehicle that looked equally ready for a cross-town shopping trip or a cross-desert rally raid.

Unlike a lot of "here today, totally revamped tomorrow" trucks, this basic Xterra design hung around for a good long while. Nissan largely resisted the urge to mess with a good thing, preferring a continual series of mild revisions, additions, and upgrades that helped keep an aging design somewhat fresh. The result is a solid, proven performer that's still a great choice for anyone who enjoys the outdoors or simply likes having a tall, purposeful-looking vehicle with tons of space.

Good, better, best  

Good: The Xterra’s speakers are okay, but you’d do well to replace them with better cones, especially if you don't have the Rockford Fosgate system. If you do have the premium system, then start your upgrades by replacing the stereo.

Better: Once you have good speakers and maybe a stereo that's capable of helping you tune the sound, it's time to add bass. No stereo system is complete without a subwoofer, and in a vehicle this size, maybe even two. If you have the premium system, then you already have the 8" powered sub under the front seat. You can still benefit from adding a 10" or 12" subwoofer in the back of the truck.

Best: Obviously, the final building block for this system is more power. Adding a 4-channel amp to the speakers will pull even more detail out of your music, and make it sound better especially when you're listening at lower volumes.

Keep in mind, there's no magic formula to creating a great-sounding audio system. The options presented above can actually be done in just about any order. What matters is that you invest in an improved sound system and enjoy cruising around in your Xterra for years to come.

This article is an overview of your vehicle's audio system and its upgrade options. If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to install a car stereo or speakers in your Xterra, there's nothing better than our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™. This detailed, well-illustrated document is free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for $9.99.

Nissan Xterra Rockford Fosgate stereo in 2005-08 models

A Rockford Fosgate stereo was optional in some Xterra models (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Factory stereo system

The Xterra offered two stereo systems to choose from. The base package offered an AM/FM/CD receiver driving six speakers. All systems carried tweeters in each corner of the dash, with oval 6"x9" woofers mounted in the lower front doors, and circular 6-3/4" woofers located in the rear doors.

The Rockford Fosgate premium system had a 6-disc CD changer in the dash that featured MP3 playback. Later models also added an auxiliary input. The standard speaker package was replaced by a 9-speaker system powered by a Rockford Fosgate amplifier.

Besides having better speakers, the premium system added tweeters in the rear doors, and the ninth speaker was an 8" powered subwoofer located under the driver’s seat

Nissan Xterra radio

With the trim panel out of the way, it's time to remove the stereo (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing your factory radio

Removing the stereo is fairly simple, unless your stereo is integrated into the dash panel (found on some 2009-up models). Those vehicles require a little more work once the stereo is out of the dash, but we’ll get to that scenario in a minute. The Xterra offers plenty of room behind the dash panel and you can select either a single-DIN (2" tall) or a double-DIN(4" tall) stereo, so you’ll be able to choose from many aftermarket models.

One quick note about the Rockford Fosgate system: When you replace the stereo in these systems, you can safely use the factory amplifier with your new stereo, and the receiver wiring harness you get from Crutchfield will enable you to connect it properly. However, your new receiver must have two sets of preamp outputs (front and rear) or you’ll lose the ability to fade the music from front to back. Keep this in mind when shopping for a receiver.

When removing the stereo, you'll start by using a panel tool to carefully pry up the plastic tray on top of the dash above the radio. Remove the screw that you find underneath the tray. Pry out the trim panel around the receiver and climate controls, and unplug the harnesses from it. Remove the four Phillips screws holding the stereo in place, then pull out the stereo and disconnect the wiring plug and FM antenna.

Stereo integrated into the nissan xterra dash (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Newer models have a factory stereo integrated into the dash (Crutchfield Research Photo)

2009-up integrated radio: For those newer models that have the radio integrated into the dash panel (shown above), the dash disassembly and removal process is the same. But when you pull the dash trim off, you’ll find that the radio is attached to it, instead of the dash substructure. So once you’ve unplugged all the harnesses, flip the dash/radio assembly upside down and find the four screws that secure the radio to the dash panel.

No matter which type of factory stereo you have, you’ll need a mounting kit to install the new receiver, a wiring harness to make the electrical connections without cutting into your Nissan’s wires, and an adapter for the FM antenna cable. All of these are available at a deep discount with all receiver purchases from Crutchfield.

If you’re installing a double-DIN receiver, you’ll need to use the mounting brackets attached to the sides of the factory stereo. If you no longer have these brackets, you’ll need to get replacements from a Nissan dealership. Follow the instructions included with the mounting kit to install it, then install the new stereo according to the instructions in your free Crutchfield MasterSheet™, and reassemble the dash.

Airbag light note: if your Xterra has a passenger’s side airbag, there’ll be an airbag light connected to the dash panel that you remove. You can safely detach this light from the panel by removing the screws holding the light in place. Do not take the easy road and unplug the cable from the light. Doing so will cause the computer to receive a fault code, causing the airbag light to trigger. You’ll have to take the truck to a Nissan dealership, and pay a service fee, to reset the truck’s diagnostic computer.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool

Shop for car stereos that fit your Nissan Xterra

Steering wheel audio controls

It's relatively easy to retain your Xterra's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.

Replacing your factory speakers

The Xterra's stock speakers are adequate, but if you're serious about sound, you'll definitely want to upgrade.

Nissan Xterra tweeter location

The Xterra's factory tweeters (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Dash tweeters

You can remove the factory tweeters without much difficulty. All you need to do is pry off the grilles, then, depending on which stereo system you have, remove either two or four screws securing the tweeter. The only difficulty lies in the fact that these screws can be hard to get to with a screwdriver. A right-angle screwdriver will save the day.

When the screws are out, lift out the tweeter and unplug the wires. To mount a new tweeter, you’ll have to fashion a bracket to hold it in place. You’ll also have to tap into the factory speaker wires because there aren’t any aftermarket adapters available for this location. We carry a universal bracket that will come in handy for this, and Posi-Product wire tap connectors can really help with the wiring.

Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle Phillips screwdriver

Front speaker in the Nissan Xterra

The front speaker in the Rockford Fosgate system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front speakers

As mentioned earlier, the front door speakers are 6"x9" ovals in both versions of the factory stereo system. The space in front of the speakers is a little tight, so only a few aftermarket 6x9’s will fit. You can also install 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers in this location, using adapter brackets that are available at a discount when you purchase your speakers from Crutchfield. Choosing one of these smaller sizes will give you more replacement options.

There are no wiring adapters available for the Xterra, so you’ll have to splice the new speaker wires to the truck’s wiring. This is another place where the Posi-Product wire taps will be very helpful. If you use these, you won’t have to cut off the factory connectors.

The door panels will have to be removed to gain access to the speakers, but the process isn't terribly hard. There are three screws to remove, located behind the door pull, armrest, and power options switch panel. After that, just use your panel tool to pry around the bottom and sides of the door panel until you release it. Full step-by-step instructions are detailed in your MasterSheet.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 8mm socket, ratchet & extension,

nissan xterra rear door tweeter

The premium sound system's rear tweeters are mounted on the underside of the door panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear speakers

Removing the rear door panel is nearly identical to removing the front door panel. Once you have the panel off, you can install 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers, again with the help of a mounting bracket. You’ll also have to drill new mounting holes for the bracket.

Simply attach the bracket to the new speaker, then hold it in place so you can mark the screw holes with a pen or marker. Set the speaker assembly aside and carefully drill the new holes. Once again, a wiring adapter is not available, so you’ll have to splice the wires as you did in the front doors. 

Rockford Fosgate systems: If you have the Rockford Fosgate audio system, you’ll also find tweeters mounted on the inside of the rear door panel. They’re held in place by two screws and can easily be replaced.

As with the dash tweeters, you’ll need to fashion a mounting bracket and splice the wires. If your new tweeters have a threaded screw hole on the back, you might even be able to re-use the Nissan brackets. The factory tweeters are 1-3/8" in diameter, so your replacements shouldn’t exceed this size.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 8mm socket, ratchet & extension, drill and 1/8" bit

Shop for speakers that fit your Nissan Xterra

JL Audio Stealthbox for the Xterra (Photo courtesy of JL Audio)

JL Audio Stealthbox for the Xterra (right) (Photo courtesy of JL Audio)

Bass in your Nissan Xterra

If you don't have the Rockford Fosgate system, your Xterra can certainly benefit from more bass. There's obviously plenty of room for a subwoofer box in the back. Shop our selection of bass packages to take the guesswork out of matching subs and amplifiers.

If you want a stealthy option that preserves your cargo space, consider the JL Audio Stealthbox® custom-fit subwoofer enclosure. It mounts against the passenger-side rear wall and contains a 12" JL Audio subwoofer capable of handling up to 500-watts RMS. Add an amp and fill your truck with hard-hitting bass.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Nissan Xterra

Other options for your Xterra

There are lots of things you can add to improve your Xterra. Here are some ways Crutchfield can help:

iPod adapter

You can add iPod and iPhone control to your Xterra's factory stereo, using the iSimple iPod adapter. You can control the music on your iPod from the Nissan stereo, and keep your device charged, too. Given the cost of this adapter, you might want to go ahead and replace the stereo to get similar control and better sound. But if you want to keep the factory stereo, it's good to know that you do have another option.


Installing a security system in your Xterra isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.

Shop for car security systems for your Nissan Xterra

Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck

Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.

Last updated May 10, 2016
  • Kenny from Delaware

    Posted on 6/9/2015 1:13:12 PM

    One of the door retaining clips broke on my 2012 Nissan Xterra, I was wondering if you guys knew the clip model/number so that I can order more.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/9/2015 2:28:21 PM

    Alas, we can't help you on that one. We'd suggest checking with your local Nissan dealer or visiting an Xterra-centric owner's forum. Good luck!

  • James from Virginia

    Posted on 7/7/2015 9:44:11 AM

    I just installed a Pioneer AVH-4100NEX into my 2006 Xterra with the Rockford Fosgate package. While a little intimidating for a novice, it went well. However, I'm getting a speaker pop when I turn off the ignition. I'm finding on different forums that it could be a ground loop issue or that the amp is still on briefly after the HU turns off. The latter seems most likely. Any suggestions for the simplest way a novice can address this issue? Thanks!

  • Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/7/2015 4:24:33 PM

    James, The key to making this installation work is using the right harness (Crutchfield part #120707551) when you install it. This wiring harness connects to your new receiver's front and rear preamp outputs and allows you to retain use of the factory amp. For receivers that don't have those outputs, you'd use a line converter to retain use of the amp. If you purchased the stereo from Crutchfield, you can call our tech support team seven days a week and let our experts help you diagnose the problem and get your system running right.

  • James from Virginia

    Posted on 7/7/2015 4:50:55 PM

    I did not purchase the receiver from Crutchfield, but did purchase that exact harness here. I used the RCA connectors for Front L & R and Back L & R channels. As I said, all seems fine except for the hiccup of a fairly loud pop when I turn off the ignition or detach the face.

  • Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/8/2015 10:59:29 AM

    James, If you bought the harness from us, our tech support team will be happy to help you troubleshoot your system. Just give us a call.

  • Omar Navarrere from Bloomington

    Posted on 8/26/2015 11:18:20 PM

    I have a 05 xterra with rockford fosgate sound. I used the correct harness and the new reciever powers on but no sound comes out. Any help with this?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/27/2015 10:12:54 AM

    Omar, If nothing's coming out of the speakers, the first thing to do is check your connections again. Something might be pinched or loose, either at the receiver or in the door. If you think it's something more serious, and you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Ryan from Omaha

    Posted on 9/26/2015 7:01:24 AM

    Hello there! Is it possible to run my iPod and satellite through my stock Rockford set up? Or, can I only run one or the other?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/28/2015 10:14:21 AM

    Ryan, If the stock receiver has an AUX input, it's possible, but you'll need a SiriusXM dock and play satellite radio with a vehicle kit. An aftermarket receiver will give you a lot more options and inputs.

  • Hunter from st. petersburg

    Posted on 11/20/2015 8:14:39 AM

    I have the Rockford fosgate system in my xterra and I think I blew my drivers front side tweeter and front speaker. Looking to replace them but not sure how many watts I should be looking for. Could I use different brands and different wattage? How many watts do the front speakers receive? I want to get speakers that well exceed the wattage that is wired to them so I can turn it up all the way without having to worry about blowing them.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/20/2015 8:55:54 AM

    Hunter, There are plenty of great speakers that will work in your Xterra. I'll send your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Bill from Beech Island, SC

    Posted on 11/30/2015 11:00:29 AM

    I am toying with the idea of replacing the speakers in my 2014 Xterra (Not Rockford Fosgate) with component speakers in the front and was wondering if I can put the aftermarket tweeters in the factory tweeter location and use the factory wiring, or do I have to run new wiring from the woofer in teh component system all the way up to the factory location

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/30/2015 11:20:43 AM

    Bill, You won't have to rewire, but there are no wiring adapters available for the Xterra, so you'll need to use Posi-Product speaker connectors to connect the new gear to the factory wires. This is a ton easier than splicing, and the connection is much more durable.

  • Tyler from MAUMELLE, ar

    Posted on 12/25/2015 12:53:47 PM

    I have 2012 Xterra with the Rockford Fosgate system. If I install a new head unit that is XM ready, can I use the factory XM receiver and antenna? Also, the same with Bluetooth---if the head unit has a microphone, how do you use the factory mic instead?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/28/2015 8:57:36 AM

    Tyler, When you replace the factory radio, you'll lose your factory XM capability. Look for a new one that's SiriusXM-ready. And you might as well use the mic that comes with your new receiver.

  • Chauncey from Geneva IL

    Posted on 3/17/2016 1:28:17 PM

    Want to upgrade stereo and speakers in 2014 xterra s (not rockford fosgate system). With steering wheel control adapter would I still be able to make phone calls using steering wheel? And can I still use factory mic? And factory xm antenna?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/18/2016 8:41:02 AM

    Chauncey, I've sent your question to our sales team for the best answer, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Chris Williamson from Ajax

    Posted on 6/21/2016 8:04:30 PM

    I have a 2008 Xterra with the Rockford Fosgate premium system. I want to retain my steering wheel controls. What is the correct harness and steering wheel control adaptor?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/22/2016 9:52:05 AM

    Chris, You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car and get some info on what else is needed for the installation. Just enter your info, and our database will match you with receivers that fit and installation gear that works in your Xterra.

  • Tammy Ricker from Concord

    Posted on 7/10/2016 11:15:00 AM

    Just bought a 2008 nissan xterra with the rockford system. Did not com with instructions on how to program the clock or preset radio stations.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2016 9:50:34 AM

    Tammy, That info should be in the owner's manual. If you don't have the manual, you should be able to find a replacement online. The radio info might be out there by itself, too. Good luck!