In what can only be interpreted as another death knell for the overland-ready SUV, Nissan is expected to no longer offer the Xterra after the 2015 model year. For Nissan, the reasons to kill off the Xterra are simple enough. Sales numbers have dipped well below 20,000 units for 2014, a continued decline over the previous year. Perhaps most disconcerting is Nissan’s assertion that demand for capable off-road platforms is being usurped by desires for more fuel efficient and road-biased wagons and crossovers. That sentiment is being echoed by manufacturers across the board.
Further compounding the Xterra’s challenges were tightening emission and safety standards which would have required a comprehensive redesign. Like the now defunct Toyota FJ Cruiser, no plans have been made for a revised Xterra. It will only be replaced by an empty void and heightened demand for well-kept used models.
Many automotive analysts are quick to cite this as one more example of the closing of an era. The Xterra was originally offered as an alternative to the Nissan Pathfinder and was built on the Frontier pickup platform. This gave the Xterra excellent off-road prowess at a small sacrifice to road worthiness. Modern consumers not prone to venture beyond the tarmac are less forgiving of the Xterra’s modest road manners and are snapping up vehicles like Nissan’s Rogue. The sub 20 mpg efficiency of the Xterra also contributed to the decline in demand as more fuel efficient options came into the mix.
Although oft lauded as an exceptional value for a proper off-road SUV, the updates required to keep the Xterra in production proved insurmountable, or at the least beyond Nissan’s inclination to do so. It had a good run spanning 16 model years.