NASHVILLE — Offroaders' ears perked up recently when Nissan revealed it intends to market a new four-wheel-drive midsize body-on-frame SUV called the Terra this spring.
But alas – not for the U.S. market. Not yet, at least.
The Terra has been created for China and other Asian markets to follow, Ashwani Gupta, global head of light commercial vehicles for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, told Automotive News.
Gupta says there is a growing demand in China for a go-anywhere SUV, built like rugged SUVs of old —meaning a pickup-based body-on-frame architecture, rather than the more refined unibody crossover construction now favored in the U.S. market.
The Terra will be built in China on the same assembly line as the China-market Navara pickup.
The name "Terra" is just one letter short of "Xterra," the name for the four-wheel-drive midsize body-on-frame SUV that Nissan sold in the United States from 1998 through the 2015 model year. The Xterra was a popular U.S. model before the rise of car-based crossovers eclipsed it. Nissan discontinued it, according to company sources, when more demanding federal EPA regulations made it difficult to redesign in its existing form.
Gupta would not rule out a U.S. market entry for the Terra — someday.
"We can do anything," he said, meaning that it would depend on a business case for the model.
But Gupta emphasized that Terra represents a specific market for the "authentic capability to go off-road — even if the customer only wants to go off-road once a year."