Bring Back The Real Nissan Xterra

Nissan quietly revived the Xterra nameplate for their “new” SUV that was launched for the Middle East market at the end of 2020. But, we think that it pales in comparison to the original. What should the new Xterra look like and what features would we include?

Additionally, where should it sit in the Nissan lineup and what price would make it an attractive option in the already saturated SUV market? 

Let’s take a deeper look into what we believe would make a worthy modern Xterra.

The New Xterra Only in Name

In November 2020, Nissan unveiled the “X-Terra” in the Middle East. While that may sound exciting to those wishing to relive their original Xterra memories, we think that this latest version is solely borrowing its good name, but does little to evoke the feelings that the 2000 to 2015 model were able to generate.

The newest Xterra is actually a Nissan Terra with a facelift. It features 3-rows and some pretty nondescript styling in our opinion. They had a chance to offer an affordable and rugged SUV to rival the growing segment of tough, boxy designs like the Ford Bronco, Land Rover Defender, the iconic Mercedes G-Class, and the majority of the Jeep lineup.

Instead, they rolled out a pedestrian family SUV that seems to be a waste of the Xterra name.

How We Would Design the Future Xterra

If Nissan is serious about reintroducing the Xterra to the rest of the world, especially the American market, we think that they should take great lengths in understanding the true market demographics and trends of today’s consumer and design an SUV that really fits these needs.

The original Xterra was popular because it fought against the mainstream and prioritized utility and functionality over fitting in. The future Xterra should continue this mantra and offer usability that fits the needs of the modern outdoorsman.

The Future Xterra – Ideal Look

We think that the next generation Xterra’s design should depart from Nissan’s current concepts for their SUVs and take on a more traditional, classic shape. The market does not need another coupe-shaped truck.

It should not follow the design cues of the Rogue or Murano, which pretty much look the same, nor should it bloat to the size of the Pathfinder or Armada.

We believe that this rendering best captures the design niche that Nissan should fill in their lineup. 

Inside, we think that Nissan should continue this design motif and incorporate a classic, yet modern style to the interior. We love how they designed the latest Nissan Z sports car’s interior and we think they should use elements of that in the next Xterra to really make it stand out. If they offer a touchscreen with multiple physical knobs for important controls like climate and off-roading options, then we think it would be a success.

There are not so many simple, yet functional interiors these days as many companies try to overload us with technology and large screens. The original Xterra was successful because it was straightforward, easy to use, and dependable both inside and out. Just give us Apple Carplay and Android Auto with some real knobs and we will be happy.

The Future Xterra – Ideal Features

Okay, but what should a modern Xterra offer? For sure, it should be built with offroading in mind. We think the perfect platform would be to use the existing Frontier or Titan platform and then outfit it with a capable four-wheel drive system.

It should also have standard, built-in amenities like a permanent roof rack, skid plates, towing hitch, and multifunctional tailgate.

It could also borrow the engine from the Frontier and offer the 3.8 liter V6 that pumps out 310 horsepower. That should be plenty for most customers, especially given that the older Xterras topped out at 265 horsepower.

Essentially, if Nissan can make a cheaper version of a Land Rover Defender, then we think it will be quite a hit in the market. That car starts at around $50,000. So, what price would we expect the new Xterra to be set at? We think it should slot right between the Rogue and Murano and cost around $28,000 to start to be competitive.


We have been waiting for a worthy successor to the Xterra name and so far, Nissan has not delivered. But, we think that the popularity of retro names like the Bronco and the revived Defender will make Nissan think twice and start to develop a new Xterra and fill the void in its lineup.

There are just too many SUVs that look the same these days, so we would really like a striking, functional outlier that can remind us of the true utility of a sports utility vehicle.

When Nissan decides to launch it, they should also bring back Lenny Kravitz in their commercials to really revive our nostalgia for the Xterra.

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