Should Nissan revive the Xterra?
Competition among off-road SUVs is heating up, and dealers want Nissan to get back in on the action. The Xterra, then, may get a proper revival after the automaker dropped it from the lineup back in 2015.
“The rugged body-on-frame utility segment is on fire, and we’re missing out on key business for the brand,” Tyler Slade of Salt Lake City-based Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne said to Automotive News. He’s not wrong: Ford is reviving the Bronco this year, Land Rover launched a new Defender and Jeep is expanding its Wrangler lineup. The Xterra carries a nostalgia factor, not to mention its simple and rugged charm that’s sorely lacking from its modern counterparts. Like the (current-gen) Frontier pickup, Nissan sold its body-on-frame SUV to those who wanted a no-nonsense vehicle. Other dealers said that apart from the original Z car launch fifty years ago, the Xterra enjoyed explosive popularity when it arrived on the scene back in 1999.
Now, the SUV most folks these days will recognize is the second-generation model. That debuted back in 2005 alongside the equally-new Frontier, and soldiered on through 2015. Eventually, its dismal fuel economy and lagging safety upgrades compelled Nissan to kill off its most direct Jeep Wrangler competitor.
Would reviving the Xterra bring buyers back to Nissan? Dealers clearly think so, and proper rugged SUVs are notching out a larger portion of the overall market. The challenge, though, would be respecting the old-school model’s heritage while improving efficiency and safety. Currently, the only body-on-frame model Nissan produces outside pickups is the Armada. So, some can (and do) argue there’s room for Nissan to bring the Xterra back. For the automaker’s part, COO Ashwani Gupta said the company discussed it internally, but hasn’t yet made a decision.
An equally old-school TFL Xterra review
Proving just how long it’s been since the model’s been around, and for a bit of nostalgia, check out our 2013 review below: