A few years back, SUVs were the fastest growing segment of the auto industry, and every manufacturer struggled to launch new models to meet customer demand. Nissan was one of the first to realize that the segment needed a capable but inexpensive off-roader, and the Xterra was launched in the U.S. Market in 2000. It soon became a sales success, and buyers snapped them up for both their off-road capability and their rugged styling. In 2000, Nissan sold nearly 89,000 Xterras.
Times change, and today the SUV segment is old news. Left Lane News reports that only the Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota 4Runner still produce high volume sales, and that Nissan’s moved only 12,200 Xterras year to date. Crossovers have become the new SUVs, and Nissan is well positioned in this segment with the Rogue, the Juke and the Murano. Does an updated Xterra even make sense to Nissan?
Citing declining sales and tightening CAFE regulations, Larry Dominique, Nissan’s VP of Product Planning and Strategy doesn’t think so. Money spent on an Xterra redesign would be better spent on boosting fuel economy or seating capacity in Nissan’s range of crossovers. Still, the Xterra won’t disappear overnight and the Pathfinder will soldier on due to its three-row-seating capability. Current plans call for sales of both the Xterra and the Pathfinder through 2011, so you still have time to shop for one if you’re interested.