ATSUGI, Japan — Creators of the Nissan Terra are throwing cold water on any notion the body-on-frame SUV might someday land in the U.S. as a successor to the popular Xterra.
"Currently, that is out of our scope," said Hironori Awano, chief vehicle engineer of the Terra, which went on sale this year in China and Southeast Asia.
Awano concedes certain aspects of the rugged, go-anywhere SUV are perfect for Americans.
"The size is very nice for the U.S. market," he said last week at a briefing here at Nissan's global technical center. It would also help Nissan tap Americans' insatiable demand for utility vehicles.
But safety requirements and other issues rule it out for now. "The U.S. market is one of the toughest, not just because of crash tests but also because of customer expectations," he said.
The Terra's lead designer, Masato Takahashi, said his team all but ignored North American sensibilities when designing the vehicle; emerging market tastes were top of mind.
Still the vehicle's introduction fired speculation about a debut in the U.S., where it might slot into the lineup as a midsize sibling to the full-size body-on-frame Armada SUV.
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 popular before the rise of car-based crossovers. Increasingly stringent fuel economy regulations also made updating the Xterra more difficult and costly.