Body-on-lame: Nissan's Terra Staying Clear of the U.S.

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Earlier this year, we addressed speculation that there was a chance Nissan’s new body-on-frame SUV — and spiritual successor to the now-defunct Xterra — could go on sale in the United States. Unfortunately, the development team behind the Nissan Terra has advised us to keep it in our pants. It isn’t coming here, despite previous claims from the manufacturer that it could be possible.

“We can do anything,” Ashwani Gupta, global head of light commercial vehicles for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, said last March, while maintaining that a strong case would still need to be made for the model’s U.S. arrival, “[The Terra has] authentic capability to go off-road — even if the customer only wants to go off-road once a year.”

Nissan has since changed its tune on the Terra’s prospects. “Currently, that is out of our scope,” Hironori Awano, chief vehicle engineer of the Terra, said during a briefing at Nissan’s global technical center last week. “The U.S. market is one of the toughest, not just because of crash tests but also because of customer expectations.”

According to Automotive News, the SUV doesn’t adhere to the stringent safety standards imposed by the United States. It also may lack the fit and finish that North American customers are accustomed to.

From Automotive News:

The Terra’s lead designer, Masato Takahashi, said his team all but ignored North American sensibilities when designing the vehicle; emerging market tastes were top of mind.

Still the vehicle’s introduction fired speculation about a debut in the U.S., where it might slot into the lineup as a midsize sibling to the full-size body-on-frame Armada SUV.

It’s beginning to sound like the Terra might not be a quality item. Having already launched in China, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the SUV comes with diesel options most Americans wouldn’t want or the same 2.5-liter gasoline engine found in the smaller Nissan Rogue.

However, other explanations exist as to why it won’t make its way stateside. Production of the Terra is currently limited to Zhengzhou, China and Samut Prakan, Thailand. Selling it within the United States would require domestic assembly or some kind of miracle that resulted in the complete elimination of automotive tariffs and relaxed safety standards. Neither prospect is something we’re willing to hold our breath on. But if the SUV is as TERRAble as it sounds, then the only people really missing out are those who wanted a secondhand model for trail work and untold levels of off-road abuse.

Let us know if you happen to be particularly broken up about the news.

[Images: Nissan]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Oct 02, 2018

    I can understand why Nissan USA will not get the Terra, it's based on the Navara, the US is still running an old platform. I also read a long time ago that the US Frontier (Navara) will be based on the narrow body version. I wonder when Nissan USA will upgrade the Frontier, then the Terra might be viable. It seems to be a nice vehicle.

  • Thats a nice hill, where can I get me one of those?

  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...
  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.