By on October 31, 2017

2013 Nissan Xterra

Do you miss the Nissan Xterra? Me, too. Appropriately blocky and truck-like in all the right ways, Nissan’s midsized off-road SUV was a great blend of tough looks and actual, y’know, functionality.

The old Xterra vanished from showrooms in 2015. Reading between the lines of a statement made by the head of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s light commercial vehicle division and reported by Aussie site Drive, a new one may be on the horizon.

Speaking at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Ashwani Gupta made very encouraging noises about the future of body-on-frame vehicles in the company’s lineup.

“What I can assure you is Nissan is concentrating and Nissan is extremely competent on frame-based vehicles, frame-based trucks and frame-based SUVs and we are going to cover each and every segment of frame,” said Gupta. “Now when? I think you’ll have to wait a little bit longer, please wait a little bit longer to Beijing Motor Show.”

Granted, this statement was made to Australian media, whose home market has a vehicle mix quite different than our own. Still, with carmakers on a never-ending quest to streamline their global offerings and cut the number of individual platforms, there’s room to suggest that a hairy chested body-on-frame SUV in the style of Xterra may make a return to American showrooms.

2015 Nissan Xterra

Given our market’s thirst for SUVs and crossovers, and automakers’ thirst for profits, such a machine would make a lot of sense if Nissan can affordably adapt the platform to suit North American tastes and preferences. Most of Nissan’s current crop of high-riders are unibody designs, from the Rogue Sport all the way up to the seven-passenger Pathfinder, which ditched its rough-and-tumble roots several years ago. Only the slow-selling Armada uses a BoF design.

It has been widely reported that the next Frontier mid-sized truck will be unique from the Navara pickup sold in other markets, as the company feels the Navara platform is too agricultural for this side of the pond. Looking at the engineering effort put into the Canyon/Colorado twins, not to mention the popular Tacoma, they may have a point. Spreading the development costs over two models, especially with one whose nameplate enjoys good juju, would make a lot of sense.

The old Xterra has legions of fans, thanks to the trucklet’s rough-n-ready image and the chops to back it up. It is certainly not a machine one would be afraid to get dirty and, thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like design cycle, an ’05 looks remarkably like a ’15. All this helps to buoy the Xterra’s value on the used car market.

2015 Nissan Xterra

If any this comes to fruition, Nissan wouldn’t be the only OEM bringing back a popular nameplate. Ford is currently in the never-ending throes of bringing back the Bronco (if they don’t show a concept this year in Detroit I’m going to hurl this laptop into the sea) and GM has been making overtures about putting the Blazer name on some sort of machine in the near future.

Nissan has not officially announced any timetable for a new Xterra or Frontier. Won’t keep us from hoping for one, though.

[Images: Nissan]

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37 Comments on “I Want to Believe: Nissan May Find a Way to Bring Back the Xterra...”

  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    And yet they’re probably gonna kill the Z.

    Chris is sad.

  • avatar

    It was gone?

  • avatar

    This car is quite popular where I live in the southwestern Virginia. In fact, both me and my neighbor have bought an identical 2015 X 4×4, 6MT within week apart in August 2015.

    I like its simplicity, strong motor, lack of unnecessary IMO electronic garbage, and truck like driving characteristics.

    The manual transmission is nice. Once held on cruise control, in can get up to 22 MPG highway around 75-80MPH. The X trim lacks the differential locker, but the aftermarket is full of options.

    I believe there is a need for this car, and it would be smart on Nissan to reintroduce it is some modern iteration to the USA market.


  • avatar

    Switch out the rear leafpack for a 5-link coil spring setup, put some better seats in, and maybe stretch it just a smidge in terms of wheelbase and rear overhang to match the 4Runner’s interior room and they’d be right back into it. DO NOT downsize from the lusty 4.0L motor. The 6spd ’15 Pro-4X I drove was an absolute hoot, but rode and handled like crap with an overly soft leafpack in the back that caused all sorts of jiggles.

  • avatar

    Well if it’s based on a new Frontier it might be a similar situation to Ford with the Ranger and the Bronco depending on each other for development resources and volume that justifies their existence.

  • avatar

    This thing was a tough sell, even if the rough and tough image bring customers into the showroom, a similarly priced Rogue or Pathfinder always end up taking the sale. BOF trucks not named the Wrangler or 4Runner just aren’t the easiest to sell. This isn’t a lifestyle vehicle like the other two I just mention. The enthusiast crowd also doesn’t like buying brand new rigs to beat up. New buyers are scarce for these.

    • 0 avatar

      “BOF trucks not named the Wrangler or 4Runner just aren’t the easiest to sell. ”

      Hm, not sure what you are referring to, BOF trucks sell pretty well, I think.

      Assuming you are talking about BOF SUVs, what about the Tahoe/Yukon/Escalades, the Expeditions/Navigators, the Armada/Q-whatever?

      • 0 avatar

        They all sell pretty well, too. Its more like “BOF SUVs named Sequoia and Armada sell poorly”.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m surprised the Sequoia still exists. It’s sandwiched. It will never be a GM BOF, it can’t be luxury because of the Land Cruiser, it doesn’t have a Lexus cousin to help it get developed (so old) and it can’t be softer because of the Highlander. And yet it’s still kind of expensive.

          It’s in the same position as the Montero circa 2006, except it’s a bit larger.

          • 0 avatar

            The Sequoia has its market, well to do families possibly with outdoorsy/active/towing inclinations that like Toyotas, but are not not old-money Land Cruiser-wealthy (or LC’s 3rd row is too small). The car itself is definitely quite outdated at this point, and I hate the bulbous styling and really cheap interior trim. The only thing it has going for it is the lowering rear window, a multi-mode 4wd system with locking center diff, well and Toyota reliability/resale.

            I could see myself in 5-10 years being a Sequoia customer (I think I’ve more or less described a future me in the first sentence), but aside from the utility of the thing there’s more than enough to really make me dislike it.

          • 0 avatar

            The Sequoia exists because the Tundra is still in production and it would be lazy to not offer one to get margins over pickups to recover some cost of keep building a low volume pickup.

          • 0 avatar

            The problem with the current Sequoia is that it is ugly as F.

            Every time I see 2001-2007 Sequoia I think rugged and handsome, which only underlines for me how the current Sequoia looks like a kid with allergies who forgot to bring his epi-pen.

        • 0 avatar

          The Armada sells well now thanks to the redesign. But the Sequioa well that’s still circling the drain

  • avatar

    ” as the company feels the Navara platform is too agricultural for this side of the pond.”

    I don’t think they’re too sure about this. I’ve seen the same Navara TWICE, driving around here in Cincinnati with a white plate on the back of it.

    I blame the death of the Xterra squarely on Nissan.
    -No updates
    -Agricultural/refinement issues
    -Rear space lacking
    -Ride comfort
    -Aged design because of Frontier heritage

    If they bring it back a bit larger, and pitch it to the 4Runner class (instead of underneath it) it might work.

  • avatar

    Bring it back, and let Mitsubishi design a new Montero off of its bones.

    No wimpy CUVized version. They both have more than enough of those.

    Oh, and the Blazer is likely to be a twin of the newly downsized Acadia, as in a car-based CUV.

  • avatar

    This is probably the last Nissan I found attractive, but I assume they will bring it back in a new and “improved” uglified version – without a manual transmission.

  • avatar

    My 2011 Xterra has been the most versatile vehicle I have owned in 50 years of vehicle ownership….yes even better than my many pickups.
    Most SUV’s are too nice inside and out for my needs……the Xterra emphasizes utility.
    1. It tows my Casita travel trailer around the country.
    2. The back seats fold perfectly flat which is much appreciated by my two large dogs.
    3. Five garbage cans fit in the back.
    4. It tows 5,000 lbs. of dirt, gravel, and firewood.
    5. It pulls stumps and skids logs.
    6. It is rugged and small enough to finds it’s way through the back country of the Olympic Peninsula.
    7. I usually average 18.5 mpg with 23 on long trips.
    8. You can tie down a Hippopotamus in the roof rack.
    9. Has been very reliable.
    10. I just really like the damn thing for it’s simplicity and usefulness.

    • 0 avatar

      I love mine. I mean, I love it. 2009 Xterra X, 98k miles, nary a
      problem of any kind (it has been overmaintained), original brakes lasted
      85k miles, and it goes where I point it. Without complaining. I’ve
      owned Jeeps, 4wd pickups, a bobtail Bronco, small 4wd pickups, and
      the Xterra is by far the best 4wd I’ve ever owned. Out my way, there’s
      plenty of them, but I’m sure they don’t sell in highly urbanized
      markets, because they are a true utility vehicle. Please bring it
      back Nissan, and don’t make too many changes.

  • avatar

    It is very unfortunate Nissan apparently feels the Navara is “too agricultural” for the USA market.

    I’m a “truck guy,” and so many truck guys I meet are frustrated that you can’t buy a basic, solid, no-frills truck anymore. Everything has leather seats, vast acreage of screens all over the dashboard, tons of gadgets and gimmicks we don’t need. Most dealers don’t even stock your basic work truck, and they whine and moan about special orders.

    In fact, I would argue that what the USA market needs is exactly that: a more “agricultural” type of SUV or truck.

    • 0 avatar

      We have top men working on all that agriculture in the Nevada desert right now.

      Top. Men.

      • 0 avatar

        This is why I think that if SsangYong and Mahindra are ever going to be successful in the NA market with vehicles they should hit ’em where they ain’t.

        Give us a pickup built like and the size of the mid 80s Toyota pickup. Solid axles front and rear on the 4×4 model. Air-conditioning as one of the few luxury features. More crossovers would just be pointless.

        • 0 avatar

          Short of offering the spiritual equivalent of Kalashnikov’s brainchild, I think they will struggle, esp with branding. Already too many brands, too much crap, and too expensive vs real wages. Just ask anyone in the real world.

          How many billions did it take for KIA to move up from a complete joke to a mid-level joke? Was it worth it, or would it have made more sense for Hyundai to keep its money and volume in the core brand and leave KIA as dust in the wind?

          • 0 avatar

            Oh I think they would have an impossible task too I’m just saying that being unique in the market is a better prospect than having a whole lineup of stuff that is a carbon copy of what every other manufacturer sells.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          The Ssyangyong is a very good pickup. And it gets near on 40 USmpg. The Ssyangyong Actyon dual cab has a very low load rating of just over 700kg because it has a 5 link rear suspension. They are not a heavy going pickup, but they suit many. But many don’t buy them.

          The Mahindra in Australia doesn’t sell that well, but it has a loyal following by farmers. They buy them in lieu or as an addition to a quad. The work well on a farm.

          • 0 avatar

            @BAFO – 40 mpg couldn’t happen, not even using Imperial gallons, diesel, and going downhill both ways with the wind at your tail.

          • 0 avatar

            Mike, its supposedly 33 U.S. mpg, 40 Imperial, but I still think it’s unlikely that such a truck would be good at much of anything except getting good mileage while hauling nothing but one malnourished teenaged beauty queen as a driver using a feather to push the throttle.

          • 0 avatar

            Ah, the US MPIG translation! Thanks John.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            No John. Its also full chassis.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The Navara probably has the most advanced suspension on any midsize pickup globally.

      It is actually more carlike than the US Colorado or Tacoma. The D40 is old and needs replacing.

      The Ridgeline is probably the best pickup for most to own, as it is large enough to go to Lowes and cart the 20 screws and bag of mulch. Is the most carlike in vehicle dynamics.

    • 0 avatar

      If you can’t find a basic stripper pickup in your area, let me know. I’ll find it. It won’t be in the showroom I promise, but if you let them know it’s that or nothing, they’ll find one every time. It helps to dress like a landscaper with dusty work boots. The 1st thing they look at is your shoes and watch.

      • 0 avatar

        Dealers in our little impoverished corner of the Southwest do stock fairly base trucks because so many people do use them to work more than simple commuting and it is often the only vehicle they can afford to have.

        However my father living in Ohio (salesman for a John Deere dealership) reports that the farmers complain that the dealers don’t stock basic 3/4 and 1 ton trucks and (this is especially true of GM dealers) whine and stomp their feet when asked about ordering one.

        Of course most of those farmers are perfectly willing to find a dealer that will take their money and will allow them to wait 6 weeks or so for an ordered one.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I don’t know if, what I assume would be a full chassis, Navara based SUV will make it to the US. First you NEED a new Frontier.

    As Matt correctly pointed out the Aussie vehicle market is much different yet so similar to the US/Canook market.

    The differences in SUV is very significant. First for a SUV to make it in Australia it must have REAL off road credibility, or it just doesn’t sell.

    CUVs similar to the RAV4 sell, but not in the numbers that the mid size SUVs sell in.

    The Aussie mid size SUV market has a large offering already, so Nissan will find the going tough. The Pathfinder morphed from a really good SUV into a hairdressing orientated vehicle, that’s no better than any other of the Subaru, Mazda, Toyota (terrible Kluger or in US speak Highlander), etc. These vehicles might be okay in AWD in the snow and ice. But other than that they are quite useless, you might just as well of invested in some minivan.

    Ford (Everest, dumbass name), Mitsubishi (Pajero and Challenger), Toyota (Fortuna and Prado), Holden (Colorado7), Izuzu (MUX) all have real off road capable SUVs based on their midsize pickups.

    These SUVs are the icing on the cake to value add on a platform. Believe it or not Aussies are buying more pickups per capita than the US now. Add these SUVs and there are a lot of 4x4s kicking around.

    But, back to Nissan. Nissan need a mid size SUV in Australia. For a while we had the turbo diesel Spanish built Terrano alongside the Pathfinder, both based on the D20 as well as the Patrol.

    Nissan has lost the plot regarding 4x4s since Renault took over. I hope Nissan bring out a “Terrano” or even call it a “Xterra” based on the Navara.

  • avatar

    Australia doesn’t have CAFE 2025. Hoping that an Obama-era policy will not wreak havoc upon the American way of life is a dangerous pastime. Don’t get your hopes up.

    A vehicle the size of the Xterra will be required to make 30mpg combined by 2025. No possible. Even with a new system of credits and multipliers will probably not make the vehicle cost effective. Unless the footprint regulations are repealed or the mileage requirements are made more realistic for BoF offroad vehicles, the Xterra has no chance of return.

  • avatar

    Problem is it will probably come back as a cuv based on the sentra, or some nonsense like that.

  • avatar

    I was just thinking today that when my beater ’06 Kia Sportage dies I’d love to get a “real” SUV of some sort, something NOT car-based. My only beef with the old Xterra was the same thing I hate about Toyota small trucks…I feel like I’m sitting on the floor with my legs sticking straight out, just like I would be in an Accord, just a lot higher off the ground. It’s much more comfortable for me to sit higher off the floor with my legs lower…less hip pain.

    My college-age son would just love to get an Xterra…it’s a close second to a Wrangler in his eyes. Of course he doesn’t think a greenish gold Sportage with peeling clear coat on the hood is cool at all?!?

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