Frame Games: Nissan Rolls Out Body-on-frame SUV

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Longsufferingtime readers of this author’s natterings know my preference for all things of the body-on-frame variety. That’s why I’m going to take every opportunity I can to trumpet the kinda sorta maybe possibility that Nissan will reintroduce the Xterra.

The old Xterra only hung around for two generations, offering righteous options such as a stick-shift manual, supercharged power, and a locking rear diff. It’s the polar opposite of a Qashqai Rogue Sport. Given today’s market tastes, I totally understand why Nissan offers a phalanx of unibody crossovers – like any smart company, its giving the people what they want.

It still doesn’t stop me from pining for a small, butch SUV from Nissan, though. With an introduction yesterday in China, that future is one step closer to reality. Maybe.

The new Nissan Terra (see? It even has a similar name!) is touted as an all-new sport ute designed to bring rugged 4×4 capabilities to China and other select markets across Asia. It’ll be the first vehicle from Nissan’s “frame and LCV division” to launch under a company plan that looks ahead to the year 2022.

Nissan’s frame and LCV business unit – made up of frame SUVs, pickups, vans, and light-duty trucks – is said to be critical to achieving the company’s midterm objectives. Nissan says one in every six of its vehicles sold globally is a frame-based vehicle or an LCV, and that the company is focused on capturing this division’s full potential. In 2017, Nissan’s global frame and LCV sales reached 907,929 vehicles – roughly a 7 percent increase from the prior year.

That number, of course, counts a good many products not found on our shores. However, given North America’s appetite for all things SUV, it’s a safe bet there’s a business case floating around the halls of Nissan to bring a machine of this type to America.

At its peak, the old Xterra handily sold north of 50,000 copies per year, nearly cresting 80,000 units all the way back in 2002. Towards the end, after the company allowed the stagnation of its development and thanks to a glacier-like redesign cycle, sales dropped to below 20,000 annually, making it an easy decision to pull the plug on what was once an innovative trucklet that still garners some fan appreciation today.

Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president for Nissan’s frame and LCV business, describes the Terra as “… practical, authentic, and designed to go anywhere. The Nissan Terra goes on sale this spring, first in China, with other Asian markets soon to follow.”

Gupta goes on to say, “Nissan’s frame and LCV business is seeing steady growth, and with our ambitious midterm plan and growing product lineup, we’re confident that this growth will continue. We have the Nissan Terra arriving soon, the award-winning Nissan Navara is now in 133 markets worldwide, and more drivers are purchasing our LCVs around the world.”

Encouraging words for this body-on-frame fan, then. For the nine-month period to December 31, 2017, Nissan’s global unit sales were 4.109 million units. Over the same period, In the U.S., Nissan sales increased by 1.1 percent to 1.177 million units.

With the North American market making up a decent chunk of Nissan’s global sales, I think there’s a solid chance that the boffins at Nissan’s frame and LCV department are making a case for some sort – probably not the Terra shown here – of BOF trucklet to wend its way to our shores.

[Images: Nissan]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Join the conversation
6 of 38 comments
  • TW5 TW5 on Feb 27, 2018

    CAFE 2025 is the headwind against all BoF vehicles, except the largest crew cab trucks. The Wrangler will be required to make 37mpg combined by 2025. Not gonna happen. For small BoF SUV's to survive, the manufacturers will need regulatory relief or they will need to move lots of hybrids and electric vehicles. Hopefully regulatory relief will happen because city-slicker rules don't work well in rural areas. About 20% of the population lives in the middle of nowhere. That's 60M people who are choosing from about 10 different non-luxury name plates. Surely, the auto manufacturers can do better. The best thing they could possibly do, imo, is to create a special exception that gives BoF light trucks with at least one solid axle the most lenient fuel economy standards (23mpg combined in 2025). That sort of exception would give offroaders a reprieve and it would create incentives to sell smaller, fuel-efficient trucks. It probably wouldn't change the CUV shopping carts because people want car-like ride and 30mpg.

    • See 3 previous
    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 28, 2018

      TwoBelugas, CAFE doesn't represent real FE. Instead of calling it mpg's it should be renamed CAFE units of efficiency.

  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Feb 28, 2018

    CAFE 2025 is another bold chapter in the legacy of Barack “Settled Science” Obama. Along with internet creator Al Gore and Doctor Bill Nye, the Kenyan has issued a set of historic standards that will save the planet. It’s either that or Tarpon fishing off the coast of Nebraska by 2050. “You can keep your doctor, not your real car though.”

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
  • Steve Biro For all the talk about sedans vs CUVs and SUVs, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any modern vehicle. And I know it’s only going to get worse.