- Nissan will decide within a year whether it will replace the long-in-the-tooth Xterra or let it slowly fade away, Edmunds has learned.
- Poor sales and fuel economy concerns threaten the future of the Xterra, according to Pierre Loing, vice president of product planning for Nissan Americas.
- Loing says Nissan will make a decision about the future of the Xterra in the next six months to a year.
FARMINGTON HILLS, Michigan — Nissan will decide within a year whether it will replace the long-in-the-tooth Xterra or let it slowly fade away, Edmunds has learned.
The SUV has had minimal changes since the current generation went on sale in 2005. Nissan generally redesigns or significantly upgrades its vehicles every five to seven years.
Pierre Loing, vice president of product planning for Nissan Americas, said that poor sales, fuel economy concerns and the possible lack of partners threaten the future of the Xterra.
"The most difficult part is it is U.S.-only, so even if the volume in the U.S. is good, you need to make friends around the globe to get the resources" to help develop the replacement, Loing said.
He added: "There are plans to replace it, there are always plans, (but) I am not sure it will happen. I would say in the next six months to a year" Nissan will make the decision.
The Xterra debuted in 1999, aimed at off-roaders wanting a tough, roughed SUV. However, Xterra's disappointing sales are difficult to ignore, Loing said.
"The first generation was a huge success," Loing said. "What we see now, whether us or the (Toyota) FJ Cruiser for that matter, is the same environment. They are struggling."
Nissan sold 88,578 Xterras in 2000, the vehicle's best sales year, but last year the automaker sold about 17,200. The FJ Cruiser went on sale in 2006, tallying about 56,200 vehicles that year. That compares with last year's sales of approximately 13,600 vehicles.
With high gasoline prices, Loing said it is a difficult market, "especially now, body-on-frame is a constraint" because it increases the weight of the vehicle and hurts fuel economy. The Xterra rides on a body-on-frame platform.
The two-wheel-drive 2013 Xterra is rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway, according to the EPA. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. A 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 is standard in all models. Specifications and pricing for the 2014 Xterra have not been released.
Automakers are under pressure from the U.S. government to increase the fuel economy of their cars and trucks. Each is required to boost the mpg of their combined vehicle fleet 4 percent annually through 2025.
The Xterra's murky future leads to the question of whether the redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue could serve as a replacement for the body-on-frame SUV.
"I would not suggest Rogue is a replacement for the Xterra," wrote Dan Bedore, a Nissan spokesman, in response to a query from Edmunds. "They live together in the showroom today and will continue for the foreseeable future.
Xterra has a unique place in the Nissan lineup and has an enthusiastic fan base inside and outside the company."
Edmunds says: Expect a decision on the future of the Nissan Xterra in fairly short order.