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Hello club X!

1st post as I am contemplating the purchase of a 2004 Xterra 2x4, 3.3L automatic with 143,000 miles on it. Body and interior super clean and CarFacts says it is a 2 owner vehicle with no reported accidents. I have test driven it twice and would have my mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection before I bought it. There are some significant limitations on what an pre-purchase inspection can look for as well as time and liability limitations for a vehicle you bring in but don't own yet.

The acceleration seems much slower than I expected especially in third gear (or the shift point not downshifting under increases acceleration) however is a big concern to me. Engine looks clean and sounds smooth enough. First Gear is very punchy and responsive and second gear seems to do okay but when I go to merge onto the highway or test a 0-60 MPH time the rate of acceleration drops drastically.

It almost felt like when I floored it as it shifted/after shifting into 3rd gear that the Xterra even slowed down a bit. The engine itself didn't really rev the RPM for several seconds despite flooring it and even when it did, it did not appear to downshift at any point as I would expect. This is the only Xterra I have test driven so far as it is the only one I found in my price range and under 150,000 miles etc.

The only scan code I got was the P0328 (engine ping sensor) that I have read a lot of conflicting info on here but the consensus seems that it a very common code for the 3.3L engine in all Nissans and of little to no concern UNLESS you have a supercharger.

I have found some differing specs on 0-60 times for the same engine, same year in a 2x4 but none of them sounded like authoritative or track tested sources. What I did find indicated that a 0-60 MPH time (when new at least) for a normally aspirated 3.3L should run between 7.8 sec - 8.1 sec.

The best I could get with several attempts was 11.0 seconds (dry roads, no tire spin ever). I'm not really hung up on numbers as much as just needing something that can hit 55-60 by time I get to the end of the entrance ramp to merge into highway traffic. I also live part time in an area with single lane traffic and limited passing lanes for a 5-6 mile stretch so I need some passing oomph that is definitely lacking in this particular Xterra.

My last vehicle for reference was a 2001 5 speed Nissan Sentra SE with the 2.0L base Infinity engine and while not sports car performance it was very responsive. It was much lighter of course but my mechanic thought a 2004 Xterra with the 3.3L engine should easily keep up or beat my Sentra's acceleration.

Sorry for such a long post but I guess my questions are:

1) - Is what I am describing normal performance for this year and model Xterra?

2) - If not normal performance what are some common issues that might cause this?

My concern with the apparent lack of the automatic tranny downshifting under harder acceleration in 3rd gear would indicate a pending transmission problem but I have driven a 5 speed for 13 years and used to instant downshift on demand.
 
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