By on March 18, 2018

NissanTerra01-750px

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 Xterra. 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, “[The Terra has] 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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51 Comments on “Nissan Bringing Back Body-on-frame With Terra SUV, Starting in China...”


  • avatar
    slavuta

    the look is too soft for body on frame rugged suv

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The ‘soft’ look is needed if you intend to get any kind of reasonable highway fuel mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Those are milliliters you’re talking about.I studied this issue. You can’t gain much on a big car like that. Under 1mpg. But it looks cartoonish

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You say you’ve studied the issue but your argument falls flat with your following two sentences. CoD is a number multiplied by the Frontal Area of the vehicle. With proper aerodynamics, the frontal area itself is reduced, meaning improved economy–admittedly marginal, but anything is better than nothing.

          However, the fuel economy itself relies on several factors of which aerodynamics is but one; it’s weight and ‘rolling resistance’ are others which have a greater or lesser effect under specific conditions. Heavy always takes more energy to accelerate than light and soft tires always create more drag than hard. Those low-profile tires are actually a means to reduce rolling resistance but also tend to make for a harsher ride.

          So it’s a combination of factors of which aerodynamics come into play more strongly at speeds above 45mph.

          By the way, a proper air dam under the nose would be a big help in reducing drag.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “Those low-profile tires are actually a means to reduce rolling resistance but also tend to make for a harsher ride.

            By the way, a proper air dam under the nose would be a big help in reducing drag.”

            All of which add up to an utterly useless vehicle offroad. I’m buying a 4wd, I’ll take the minor fuel economy penalty with all those small things in order to retain capability/utility.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And honestly, I wouldn’t use that thing as an off-road vehicle even if it was to save my life. It would have to prove itself capable before I’d trust it off-road. Soft road, maybe. Off-road and timber trails? No.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            You say, I say – all same thing. This is why Honda didn’t bother with aerodynamics in the Pilot. It made it as square as box. They rather spent effort on weight, cylinder deactivation, etc. But they made it look as tough as body-on-frame, even if it wasn’t. You can pretty much say it almost about any SUV. I always put perspective that CRV is more fuel efficient than lets say Soul. Its bigger, so it has more drag surface. But it is more efficient.

            For this specific case, I would rather see tough-looking SUV than one with 0.01 mpg superior fuel efficiency.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I wouldn’t take the Pilot off road either.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Party directive 196156 clearly states you’re not allowed to take your off-road vehicles, off-road, Citizen Gtem.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Nice line, 28-cars. But I flat wouldn’t trust either the Pilot or the Terra off-road until they prove themselves. I’d trust my little (non-Trailhawk) Renegade off road more than I’d trust these… for now.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I’d trust my little (non-Trailhawk) Renegade off road more than I’d trust these… for now.”

            I’d most definitely trust a BOF Terra with a solid rear axle and mechanical transfer case with a low range over a feckless FWD-based crossover relying exclusively on brake-based traction control. How can one be so obtuse?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Obuse? No. But I know what my Renegade can do; I do NOT know what either of those others can do and to be quite blunt they’re going to be money pits if you want to keep them looking reasonably good as an off-road vehicle. If I had to choose between Pilot, Terra or Wrangler, I’d choose the Wrangler over all. The upcoming Bronco might take a close second (MIGHT!) And to be quite blunt, I’d probably take the new Mahindra over all of them.

            I promise you, you have no idea what Jeep’s Trailhawk versions can do. Even hard-core Jeepers have been surprised by the Renegade’s capabilities, even if not as good as their modified rigs.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’m genuinely curious, what CAN your Renegade do?

            Why are we now discussing something “looking good?”

            Where does the Wrangler even enter into this?

            From what I’ve observed the Renegade falls flat on its face in uneven/low-traction hill climbing scenarios. The traction control ultimately limits how much torque is distributed to the rear axle, and the car just bogs down with the engine droning and wheels not turning. Without any sort of meaningful articulation, even small dips are enough for a wheel to go in the air and the traction control has to kick in, slowing/stopping forward momentum.

            In high traction, flat, off camber situations like what’s prepared at media events, yes the brake-based traction control shuttles power across the axle and it’s able to make it through. Within the field of crossovers the Renegade and especially KL Cherokee with its clever mechanical locking rear diff are undoubtedly the most capable on the US market. But compared to a “real” SUV with decent articulation and low range gearing (AND the same kind of brake-based traction control systems), the Renegade gets blown into the weeds. That’s before we even talk about durability offroad, or reliability for that matter.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Allow me to recommend ToasterJeep dot com, as a couple with a large collection of Jeeps have taken their Trailhawk off road KNOWING it wasn’t as capable as any of their other Jeeps but still testing it to its limits. They, and their friends, were surprised at just how well it did perform, despite its limitations. You see, FCA’s traction control systems operate a little differently from everybody else’s Just because a wheel is off the ground doesn’t mean all forward momentum is stopped. Yes, it does suffer from insufficient power in some cases but it tends to keep trying where others give up.

            As for why we’re discussing something “looking good,” all of those mentioned (Terra, Pilot) are clearly highway vehicles over off-road vehicles; they are appearance over performance. No true “offroader” would want to take a pristine copy of either vehicle and thrash it on the trails. Even one tiny dent subtracts from its residual value. The Wrangler, however, is not affected by that. People know what it’s made to do and don’t question that eventually it will do it, if not by its first owner, then by subsequent ones. When’s the last time you saw an Xterra on the trails? When’s the last time you saw a Pilot on the trails? Oh, granted, the Pilot does at least as well as the Ridgeline, I’m sure; and it’s remarkably good at it too. But again, how many do you actually see out there, despite the Pilot being (supposedly?) BoF?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            This is what I’m talking about how the Renegade falls flat on its face when more torque transfer to the rear axle is necessary, instead the traction control just kills engine power:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swyEgzlB2io

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Sorry, I see a driver fail, not a vehicle fail there. He chose the “Sand” setting when trying to climb relatively firm ground and Rock would have probably done better, then chose Rock he was clearly not rock crawling but rather running on a softer, slippery surface. I also have to question a few other factors that didn’t quite seem right about that video. Of course, his choice of tires wasn’t all that great, either. Yes, they were probably factory tires but I would have gone for something a little more off-road capable. Bridgestone Dueler Revo2 ran well under my Wrangler for years on similar conditions and I’m pretty sure they come in the Renegade’s size.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Too bad about that Renegade video. Because I like the little Jeep. I didn’t like that 1.4L needs premium gas, has timing belt and is slow

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            A: The Trailhawk uses the Tigershark 2.5L engine. And by no means is THAT slow.

            B: The 1.4L is turbocharged, puts out about the same horses as the Tigershark but has more torque. Again, it’s not slow as far as I’ve seen Though the 6-speed stick may be somewhat limiting. I have to admit, the 9-speed automatic is surprising for its launch and cruise capability. For my needs, the Tigershark is enough engine in a rig that size. Since the turbo is nearly the same horses and more torque, it should be reasonably strong itself. I expect lacking those other three gears may make a difference, though.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt eh?

            Just about any standard SUV on stock tires with a part time 4wd system would walk right up that slope.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Including the Renegade, if driven right. But then, I can already tell you that ANY SUV with an “equivalent” system would suffer similar drawbacks. How do I know? Because a good friend of mine has a GMC Yukon and complains loudly that he can’t even drive it across his farm’s fields without getting stuck… while a near-30-year-old 2WD Ford F-150 long bed rattles and bangs its way across the field without effort. I sold him that F-150.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            You keep writing nonsense, and I will gladly keep picking it apart:

            “You see, FCA’s traction control systems operate a little differently from everybody else’s Just because a wheel is off the ground doesn’t mean all forward momentum is stopped.”

            No, they are fundamentally the same as everyone else’s in the basic functionality of using the ABS system (speed sensors and individual brake actuation) to brake a free spinning wheel, which in turn on an open differential (which the Renegade has), will apply more torque to the non-spinning wheel. Granted, different automakers have different calibrations for how quickly the brakes are applied and how to manage engine power at the same time. But with the Renegade the problem is clear: not enough torque from cutting power, in interests of preventing damage to the rear axles/diff is my best guess.

            “As for why we’re discussing something “looking good,” all of those mentioned (Terra, Pilot) are clearly highway vehicles over off-road vehicles; they are appearance over performance. No true “offroader” would want to take a pristine copy of either vehicle and thrash it on the trails. Even one tiny dent subtracts from its residual value. The Wrangler, however, is not affected by that.”

            Why are you talking about the Wrangler again?

            “despite the Pilot being (supposedly?) BoF?”

            It’s not, who claimed it was?

            Your responses range from incoherent to rambling, and deviate from the original issue: Offroad, a midsize BOF solid-rear axle SUV like this hypothetical Terra beat the pants off of your milquetoast Renegade. Sorry dude, it’s true.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I suggest looking at the Renegade’s system again. It’s a 3-differential system and the center diff of the Renegade is, I believe, locks. I believe the other two are limited-slip… but I’m not certain without looking it up. Even so, I’ve watched videos where the Renegade has handled hills like those in the video reasonably well, if not as fast as a true transfer-case model might. It did perform better than the Hyundai Santa Fe and several other similarly-sized AWD models, including the Subaru.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Your responses range from incoherent to rambling, and deviate from the original issue:

            How about you stop trying to divert the question then? All I said was that I would trust my Renegade over either of the other vehicles mentioned.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Vaunted “locked” rock mode:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw_ilUP1dZQ

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            About that…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK99VrS9CNE

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Eh, Juke runs circles around Renegade. But this is not the point

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The point is that you’re diverting the discussion.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I suggest looking at the Renegade’s system again. It’s a 3-differential system and the center diff of the Renegade is, I believe, locks. I believe the other two are limited-slip… but I’m not certain without looking it up. ”

            The between-axle connection is made up of a “power takeoff unit” and then a “rear drive module.” The PTU’s purpose is to simply disconnect the driveshaft at the transmission, minimizing drivetrain losses, it is a compact fuel saving device first and foremost. The “RDM” is basically a traditional AWD car’s viscous coupling that apportions torque front to rear as well as a regular open rear differential. So what you have is open front and rear are differentials, simply employing brake-based traction control, and a viscous coupling with electronic “locking” serving the role of a center differential to prevent binding in turns, that’s it. Apparently Trailhawk models have an option to lock in 1st gear in the 9spd which is as good as it gets for the “low” ratio. The KL Cherokee is the only “soft” fwd-based Jeep to offer a true mechanical locking rear diff and a low-ratio gearset in the transfer case unit.

            https://www.gkn.com/en/our-technology/2016/one-awd-platform-two-distinct-driving-experiences/

            The Renegade has good geometric clearance, front and rear departures on the Trailhawk are as good as anything else, including most “real” SUVs that I can think of. The regular non-TH models have poor approach. Ground clearance is very good for the CUV class, matching Subarus. The traction control is probably some of the best stuff in the CUV class. So within their playing field the TH models are really quite good. But the fun stops there. Poor wheel articulation coupled with lack of proper torque distribution to the rear axle and aggressive traction control ultimately doom it. If you could truly defeat the traction control and have that center diff in locked more, if the driver just gunned it, all of those issues I posted where it bogs down uphill probably not have been as obvious or as problematic, assuming you could carry speed over undulations where you would be hanging wheels out.

            The video you posted as a counter-example is pretty weak. Looks like hardpacked dirt and not much off-camber anything going on. I’m willing to bet my RWD ranger could make it up there with a reasonable line, or just about any plain old FWD sedan. There are definitely videos of them doing some pretty impressive things, that isn’t one of them IMO.

            Here’s a better one showing off the traction control:
            https://youtu.be/281D_-E2BUg

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            In other words, the Renegade isn’t as wimpy as some want us to believe, even if it isn’t a Wrangler.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Summary:

            As far as 4wd hardware is concerned it is basically the same as the CUV competition, but with some better/more aggressive traction control and better geometry/clearance than the rest of the CUV class.

            Compared to a BOF SUV with real 4wd hardware, it is indeed “wimpy,” and you’d be foolish to pick a Renegade over this hypothetical Terra for offroad use based solely on aesthetics and marketing (which is as best as I can gather what is driving your thought process).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            How many times do I have to repeat myself, gtem? “It would have to prove itself capable before I’d trust it off-road.” I don’t care about its ‘theoretical capabilities,’ I care about REAL capabilities. I know of far too many modern rigs that simply can’t perform off-road any more. I’d even take the Mahindra Roxor https://www.mahindraautomotivena.com/roxor over that. (And probably have a lot more fun in it, too.)

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Your willful ignorance of the mechanical underpinnings of the vehicles in question basically seals the lid on anything resembling reasoned discussion. Full stop.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Your willfulness in demanding to have the last word is what is pitiful. You’re the one who started us down this diversional track; you could have simply ignored my statement and taken it for what was said rather than running us down this rabbit hole.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      If anything it’s less swoopy and cartoonish than the current Pajero Sport and Fortuner. That just seems to be the trend in the global pickup-derived midsize SUV class.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The U.S. market no longer dictates automotive trends, China does. I’m just beating Big Al to the punch.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Ha, funny!

      But, its getting that way more every day.

      • 0 avatar
        Gail Bloxham

        It’s been that way for years. America hasn’t realized it yet.
        Interstate miles alone… China surpassed the US in Interstate type hiway miles in 2008. That little fact hasn’t sunk in yet either.
        Even GM. It sells 189,000 cars a month in China. What is it currently? now? 165,000 a month in the US?
        You tell me who has the biggest economy.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Based on your beliefs? Our GDP has broken through 19 trillion dollars under Trump. Theirs is almost 12 trillion. I’m pretty sure that’s how you measure the size of an economy.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Todd,
            GDP is measured with PPP and nominal. Nominally the US has a larger dollar and cents turnover. PPP the Chinese surpassed the US in 2015.

            Another area not taken into consideration is GDP is only measuring tradable goods and services, so things like corruption/blackmarket, essentially illegal and untraceable sh!t is not captured. China is more corrupt than the US.

            GDP was intially designed by the EEC to measure similar economies within the EEC. As GDP data drifts further and further away from economic similarities it becomes more difficult to present accurate information.

            An example is Norway which has a very high GDP per capita, but taxation, costs of goods and services is high. But, then you must discount all the government services provided to Norwegians that in the US would be user pays, ie, education at uni.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          That’s amazing- never knew that.

        • 0 avatar
          CKNSLS Sierra SLT

          Gail -it didn’t happen until at least past 2011. And most of those highway miles are toll roads-

          http://www.newgeography.com/content/002003-china-expressway-system-exceed-us-interstates

      • 0 avatar
        xtoyota

        Big Al:
        1.4 billion people can’t be wrong :=)

        • 0 avatar

          “1.4 billion people can’t be wrong :=)”

          It depends on how advanced their army and fleet is. I have a feeling that China will soon surpass USA as a global superpower.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Inside Looking Out,
            Standing military the US is strong. Potential military the Chinese start looking strong.

            At the beginning of the 20th Century the British were supposedly the undisputed global military power. But, no one took into account the US military potential, especially after the Civil War.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Standing military, China has the largest in the world; it also has the largest population in the world, last I heard. On the other hand, it’s technology is still mostly in the ’70s compared to US military technology, but closing fast. Their advantage is that they can absorb a 1:50 kill ratio better than the US can absorb the 50:1 ratio. Limiting our forces to super-high-tech means if something happens to neutralize the tech, the numbers will walk right over us.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            China’s cities are so huge and densely populated that they are incredibly target-rich. Los Angeles would be a neighborhood in Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Beijing. Even tactical nukes would decrease Chinese population in a hurry in these megalopolises. The 17 largest Chinese cities are all bigger than New York. Fish in a barrel.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I read an Article a few weeks ago about the Terra coming to Australia.

    By the sounds of it it is up to Nissan Australia to choose of it comes to our shores, by the eay appears promising.

    So one must assume its Nissan USA call to make for the US.

    The only problem I foresee is engine configuration for the US market. Will Nissan put a suitable engine in the Terra to suit the US.

    One more thing to take into account is the next US Frontier, as this is a global Navarra station wagon.

  • avatar
    Marathon Mike

    Maybe this will ensure a 6th gen 4Runner?

  • avatar
    Dutcowski

    I read somewhere the current Pathfinder has been dubbed Repairfinder something to do with the CVT or transfer case.

  • avatar
    Kato

    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.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

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

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