Trucks & SUVs

Dealers Demand Nissan Bring Back X-Terra SUV

Would you like to see the Nissan X-Terra SUV return? Be that as it may, you are not the ones driving this latest push for a model Nissan hasn’t made in years. Dealers are demanding that Nissan bring back the X-Terra SUV. Last seen in 2015, it was called “the car that saved Nissan.” That was back when Nissan was having only troubles. Of course, now it is having massive troubles.

So, while Nissan is missing its own Bronco, Ford is trying to navigate a landslide of Bronco requests. Nissan dealers are watching and reminiscing about the days when the X-Terra sold well and are asking Nissan to bring it back. Supposedly, Nissan is all ears. 

Nissan has nothing to counter with the Bronco and Wrangler

And why shouldn’t it be? The body-on-frame Bronco has sold out its first year of production and right now the Bronco Sport is flying off of dealer’s lots. Ford expects to sell 200,000 Broncos in 2021. And the Wrangler just keeps setting sales records. Nissan has nothing to counter with.   

2008 Nissan X-Terra | Facebook

“Other than the Z car in 1970, the Xterra was the best launch we’ve ever had,” Scott Smith, president of Smith Automotive Group near Atlanta, told Automotive News. “It would be great if Nissan would recognize that the Xterra should come back.”

The X-Terra came onto the scene in 1999

The X-Terra came onto the scene in 1999. Suddenly they were all over the place. It especially struck a chord with young buyers like surfers and snowboarders. That became what is known as “lifestyle” vehicles, and you could say that the X-Terra invented it. Built on the Frontier pickup chassis, the shoestring budget of $40 million was because expectations were for selling 40,000 units. In its best sales year, 2000, it sold almost 90,000 X-Terras that year. But volume was always way ahead of 40,000 per year. 

Dealers now think that Nissan could snag 80,000 sales a year-especially because the X-Terra is considered by certain generations to be a retro off-roader just like the Bronco. Different generation but same image. That’s a nice baked-in brand recognition that is hard to create these days. 

Automotive News says that the margins for something like an X-Terra would be double what it is for a Nissan Rogue. It sounds like everybody is on board. There’s just one problem. With Nissan going through its current problems there is not a lot of development money floating around. 

2004 Nissan X-Terra | Nissan

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Nissan has squandered models that in some cases are over a decade old

Sales were down a third in 2020 from 2019, which also was not a great year for Nissan. It has squandered models that in some cases are over a decade old. And it relied on volume over larger margins, burning out dealers and customers in the process. Now it needs new models and a rethink as to how it structures dealer sales. 

Nissan does sell an X-Terra of sorts; the “Terra.” Based on its overseas midsize pickup the Navara isn’t the most distinctive-looking vehicle to be carrying the X-Terra torch. And more importantly, it wouldn’t pass US emissions and crash standards without too much reworking. So for now it is off of the table.

As Nissan didn’t keep up with its old models, when new segments pop up it’s out of luck. Nissan has to pick and choose where it sees the largest segments and margins before it can break into new areas. It’s struggling to get to its new introductions while it tries to hang on with tired models.