Nissan’s dealerships are full of flashy new sedans and crossovers, but what’s conspicuously absent compared to rivals such as Ford, Jeep, and Toyota is an off-road SUV. To get one with a Nissan badge, you’ll have to visit the used-car lot next door since the automaker hasn’t sold its Xterra in the U.S. since the 2015 model year.
That could all change, at least if Nissan dealers get their wish and the automaker reaches into its global portfolio.
Nissan dealers are clamoring for a rugged SUV to sell against the popular Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner, as well as Ford’s new Bronco and Bronco Sport SUVs. Last year, Jeep found 201,000 homes for new Wranglers, while Toyota delivered 129,000 4Runners. Both handily outsold the more family-oriented Nissan Pathfinder, which made its way into less than 50,000 garages in 2020.
“The Xterra brought people to our showrooms we hadn’t seen before, and it drove sales across model lines. We’ve still got people coming in and asking for it,” Scott Smith, the chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board, told Automotive News.
Current Nissan SUV offerings
Currently, Nissan offers a slew of high-riding crossovers starting with the pint-size, city-oriented Kicks, the popular Rogue compact crossover and working up to the capable but costly Armada full-size SUV. Only the $50,000-plus Armada offers any real off-road ability, but its Chevy Tahoe-rivaling size and price tag are hardly accessible for many buyers.
To bring a low-cost off-roader like the Xterra back to the U.S., Nissan needs only to look to its primarily Asian-market lineups, where the Thai- and Chinese-built Terra more or less trundles down the same rocky paths that were once Xterra territory.
In some Middle Eastern markets such as the United Arab Emirates, it’s even called the X-Terra. Sized about like the Toyota 4Runner, the Terra is a rugged SUV with serious off-road chops thanks to underpinnings shared with a more advanced pickup than the Nissan Frontier. That’s right, Nissan keeps its slickest trucks and SUVs outside the U.S. market — that’s something of a head-scratcher given how popular trucks and SUVs are here.