LOS ANGELES - Nissan Division is developing a small crossover for the 2008 or 2009 model year.
Sources inside and outside the company say the vehicle will be smaller than the Murano. It will be powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and offer front- and all-wheel drive.
Sources say Nissan could base the small crossover on the Versa small car, which goes on sale this summer. The vehicle also could replace the X-Trail, a small SUV sold in Canada but not in the United States.The Murano is Nissan's only crossover, and sales have increased each year since it went on sale in 2002. The Murano's base price is $28,205, including shipping.
But the company has been slow in bringing similar vehicles to market. Chief product planner Jack Collins told Automotive News this year that crossovers are a top priority for Nissan and Infiniti.
"We're studying crossovers," he said. "I think there is more opportunity for us, but we can't come with a me-too vehicle."
The Murano went on sale in 2002. Sales have grown from 56,075 the first full year in 2003 to 74,454 in 2005. For the first three months of 2006, sales were up 26.7 percent to 23,196 units.
"I think the small crossover segment will grow," Collins said. "It is not a fad. It will be sustaining."
Sources also say an entry-level crossover for Infiniti is scheduled to arrive in 2007 as a 2008 model. It will come in two versions and will be smaller than the FX35 and FX45. It will be powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V-6.
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