Nissan Bringing Back Body-on-frame With Terra SUV, Starting in China

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nissan bringing back body on frame with terra suv starting in china

Nissan has twice confirmed production for its Navara-based body-on-frame sport utility vehicle. Called the Terra, rumors of the new model had off-road enthusiasts cocking their hands in preparation for a round of high-fives. Unfortunately, the vehicle appears to have been specifically designed for the Chinese market and may be spending all of its time in Asia for a while.

That hasn’t kept people from speculating that the Terra might eventually replace the Pathfinder or return as a successor to the defunct Xterr a. We’re dubious of any claims that the Pathfinder might return to body-on-frame status. Sales of the model have been steady in North America and have not been hurt by its unibody design. But, with Nissan’s Frontier badly needing an update, it is not inconceivable that it could spawn an SUV using the Xterra name in a couple years.

Nissan has been careful not to suggest that the current Navara would become the blueprint for the next incarnation of the Frontier. But Nissan’s North American executives have also said they are aware that there has been a growing interest in body-on-frame vehicles.

However China remains the current priority, according to Ashwani Gupta, global head of light commercial vehicles for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. He again verified the Terra as a model created for the Chinese market in a recent interview with Automotive News but wouldn’t rule out the model for North American entry later on.

“We can do anything,” he said, suggesting a strong case would still need to be made if the Terra were to make into the United States, “ authentic capability to go off-road — even if the customer only wants to go off-road once a year.”

It is a little weird that so much of the domestic advertising for trucks and SUVs in the U.S. focuses upon ruggedness and trail-worthy capabilities when so much of the market is saturated with unibody crossovers. America could probably handle one or more two body-on-frame vehicles that aren’t over 200 inches in length. The Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner shouldn’t be having all of the fun.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Kato Kato on Mar 18, 2018

    Hopefully they'll redesign it before bringing it to North America. That thing in the photo is even uglier than the 4-Runner, which takes some doing.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Mar 18, 2018

    Isn't it traditional to switch between body-on-frame and unibody for every new generation of Pathfinder?

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.