A Future Nissan 4X4 SUV, Future Toyota Prius and Honda CR-V Hybrid?[Ask Nathan]

The face of a future Nissan 4X4? This is the the Nissan Zaroot concept. It’s an older concept that could hint to a future Nissan 4X4… or maybe not. [Photo: Nissan]

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • A future Nissan 4×4 SUV?  
  • What’s going on with the next Toyota Prius?
  • Will the 2020 Honda CR-V hybrid be any good?

The first question comes from a viewer who wants to know if Nissan will ever build a new interruption of the beloved Nissan Xterra. Basically, they want a proper off-roader – a future Nissan 4X4 that isn’t an Armada.

Nissan Xmotion concept
Nissan Xmotion concept (Photo: Nissan)

Q: Via Twitter (@NathanAdlen): Need to replace my old Nissan Xterra. Hate everything Nissan has and want a proper 4X4.

Do you think they will build a next-gen Xterra or some other actual 4X4? I want to see a future Nissan 4X4. One that doesn’t use a stupid CVT!

Maxwell S

Nissan Zaroot concept (Photo: Nissan)

A: Hi Maxwell!

There are a ton of rumors coming out of Nissan at the moment, but there’s nothing concrete. I bundled a few believable possibilities below in the hopes that we can get an idea of what may come. I agree with you, I hope Nissan brings a successor to the Xterra to the market soon.

Perhaps they will.

This is the Nissan Navara, an overseas sibling to the Nissan Frontier.

Next generation Frontier platform?

A lot of Nissan fanboys say that the only reason it’s taken so long for the next Xterra, (or whatever they will name it) to come is its platform. According to many, the next generation Nissan Frontier platform will underpin the 4X4 replacement for the Nissan Xterra AND it will not have a CVT.

While there is no evidence for this on our shores, we see some interesting developments overseas. These newer trucks may hold some insight as to what we might get. Then again, we may not .

The Nissan Terra – a cousin to the old Pathfinder and Xterra, is selling overseas. It’s a proper 4X4 with a manual and automatic transmission option. It’s also based on the old F-Alpha platform. While we won’t see one arrive here, some of its components may make their way here.

Nissan Xmotion concept
[Photo: Nissan]

Electrification and 4X4

Nissan has repeatedly said they are pushing hard for future electrification. This is apparent with their Nissan Leaf and upcoming EVs that are hitting the streets soon. A majority of their recent concepts, including off-roaders, are supposed to be powered by electricity.

Is that a bad thing?

Well, it wouldn’t be a “proper” 4X4 in terms of gas powered along with gears and axles. Nope, if they build an off-road EV, it will have electric motors powering the wheels. Maybe, Nissan will add a rang-extending generator (a-la BMW i3), but they never even mentioned a generator of any kind.

The good news is: electric motors have a lot of torque and all of it is available from zero rpm. That means that power to pull over obstacles is easily accessible. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a practical application of an EV 4X4 work on the Rubicon. Weight, range and durability have to be set at a high standard.

Other companies like Bollinger and Rivian seem to be confident – but that can only take you so far.

The Nissan TeRRA SUV concept may point at a design language in Nissan’s future.
(Photo: Nissan)

The non serious 4×4 off-road option.

One other option is the possibility that Nissan will build something that will go head-to-head with the Jeep Compass/Renegade, upcoming Ford Baby Bronco and rumored small Toyota SUV/crossover. This could be a somewhat off-road-worthy crossover that has better ground clearance and a little more off-road grip.

The (potential) good news for CVT haters is that Nissan is rumored to be removing those transmissions from many, if not all their crossovers. If this is the case, the idea of gear-reduction, even a proper center locker could be in the cards.

Remember guys, all of this is based on speculation. Still, other outlets (like Motortrend) have caught wind on a few possibilities regarding a replacement for the Xterra.

Hopefully, we’ll get more information from Nissan in the near future.


The next question comes from a Toyota Prius owner who wants some information on future Prius models.

This is the Toyota FT-Bh concept. Some believe the next-gen Prius may look a bit like this. (Photo: Toyota)

Q:  I love my current 2014 Prius. However, I would love the newer technology that prevents distraction.

I also would like an AWD car. I would buy a 2020 Prius except I just do not like the current body style. What do you think of the AWD Prius and do you know when they will change the body style? 

— Lynne

(Photo: Toyota)

A: Howdy Lynne!

The current generation Toyota Prius came out in 2015 and had a facelift in 2018. The fact that it’s been on the streets a short amount of time (considering how long Toyota takes to update things) it may be a while. There is talk of a few updates, but nothing substantial for a few more years.

As you mentioned, there is a new Toyota Prius AWD. We were lucky enough to try one and it was very impressive. Mainly because it felt exactly the same as a regular Prius, without too much of a mpg penalty.

I agree with you about the looks. Knowing Toyota, they will (eventually) respond to consumers who dislike their styling. It’s difficult to see how they could make the front and rear styling more polarizing. Still, if you’re willing to look past the looks, the current Toyota Prius is a smart buy.

Best of luck!


The last question comes from a Toyota RAV4 hybrid owner who’s curious about the 2020 Honda CR-V hybrid.

This is the 2020 Honda CR-V hybrid. (Photo: TFLcar)

Q: Hi there Nathan! Liked seeing the Honda safety video and your Toyota Camry hybrid video too!

I own a 2018 Toyota RAV4 hybrid and love it to pieces. It is the best for all around gas mileage and I like the idea that it can travel in bad conditions. I have yet to do what you guys do and go off road, but I may one day soon.

Just heard about the (2020) Honda CR-V hybrid and I wanted to know if you think it will be a better vehicle than my 2018 Toyota RAV4 hybrid? It is not the same technology I think and it’s not the same type of buyer either. This is my speculation and I wanted to know what you thought.

Keep up the good work!

— NoMoSpock

A: Greetings!

We have a few videos and a writeup of the 2020 Honda CR-V for you. I wanted to address your question right away because it’s a popular topic. What is the differences between the Toyota RAV4 hybrid and the upcoming Honda CR-V hybrid.

The CR-V is more powerful than the Regular CR-V

Combining the dual electric motors along with the 2.0-liter gas engine, the Honda CR-V hybrid makes 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot more than the 2.4 and just a hair under the RAV4 Hybrid. It might out-torque the RAV4 Hybrid by a hair.

The regular Toyota RAV4 AWD weighs about 100 lbs more than the equivalent Honda CR-V AWD – with the gas engine. It’s possible that, if Honda can maintain the weight savings, they may be lighter with their hybrid too.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE hybrid is a unique hybrid-only trim. [Photo: TFLcar]

Toyota’s been in the game longer

Toyota’s fourth generation RAV4 came with a hybrid option and went on sale in the United States in January 2013. Currently, the RAV4 hybrid is one of the most popular AWD hybrids in our market and (combined) the RAV4 is one of Toyota’s best selling vehicles.

The Toyota RAV4 has a totally different AWD system. It uses electric motors to power the rear wheels when needed. There is no rear axle, there is no driveshaft either. On dirt and driving through difficult traction situations, the AWD system works quite well. No so much when pushing up hills off-road.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
(Photo: Honda)

Honda uses old and new tech

Most of the hybrid system, along with the 2.0-liter gas engine come directly out of the Honda Accord hybrid. What makes it different is the addition of a prop shaft that takes the power to a rear axle that feeds the rear wheels. from the transmission back, it’s all mechanical.

We are waiting on several numbers including EPA ratings and pricing – but that should come soon!.


Speaking of green vehicles – here’s the greenest Ford Mustang you can (currently) buy!

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.