Nissan’s old school Xterra SUV won’t be climbing mountains anymore

If there’s any indication of how much the SUV segment has changed over the past 15 years, it’s the decline of the Nissan Xterra. When the vehicle with the extreme-sounding name was introduced, most SUVs had traditional body-on-frame platforms, and off-road ability was a major selling point.

But amid a sea of car-like crossovers and greater concerns over fuel economy, the Xterra apparently just can’t compete anymore. Nissan won’t bring the Xterra back for the 2016 model year, once again reducing the number of traditional SUVs available on dealer lots.

“The last Xterra will be sold in the fall of 2015,” Nissan said in a press release detailing its 2016 model year changes. The carmaker says over 750,000 Xterras have been sold since the SUV was introduced for the 2000 model year.

The Xterra was first introduced as a smaller counterpart to Nissan’s Pathfinder, using the Frontier pickup-truck platform, right when the SUV boom began. While few mainstream cars in the early 2000s could stir much emotion, the promise of off-road adventure captured the public’s imagination, even if most members of the public used their SUVs for school runs and shopping trips only.

With funky styling elements like a stepped roofline, and a first-aid kit compartment bulging out of the tailgate, the Xterra was well equipped to take advantage of this trend. A traditional, manual four-wheel drive system gave it some off-road chops as well.

The model survived into a second generation unveiled in 2005, again on the Frontier platform. But the Xterra’s past 10 years haven’t been as rosy as its first five. The current Xterra has had to weather declining interest in body-on-frame SUVs with few updates. Even the Xterra’s big sibling, the Pathfinder, eventually moved to a crossover platform for the 2012 model year.

Get behind the wheel of an Xterra, and it’s easy to see why the model is on its way out. The interior plastics are not up to current standards, infotainment options are limited, the driving experience is decidedly truck-y and, with four-wheel drive, fuel economy is a dismal 17 mpg combined. As far as styling, Nissan’s Murano will probably draw more looks from bystanders today.

Still, the Xterra has its charms. It knows what it is, and doesn’t try to pretend to be anything else. And from now on, buyers who want their SUV to be more than just a tall station wagon will have one less choice.


Kia’s HabaNiro concept is an autonomous electric car that knows when you’re sad

Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the Kia HabaNiro concept is supposed to preview the future of the everyday car. That future will include artificial intelligence tech that can read the driver's emotions, according to Kia.

The 2020 Hyundai Venue argues small and affordable doesn’t mean basic

Hyundai unveiled the 2020 Venue at the 2019 New York Auto Show. It's a city-friendly car that stands out as the smallest and most affordable member of the company's crossover and SUV lineup. Small doesn't mean basic, however.

2020 Ford Escape gets sleeker styling, greener powertrains, more tech

The 2020 Ford Escape gets redesigned for the first time since the 2013 model year. Ford brought back the hybrid powertrain, and is adding a plug-in hybrid option for the first time.

Genesis’ all-electric Mint concept proves small cars can still be stylish

Unveiled ahead of the 2019 New York Auto Show, the Genesis Mint concept is a future electric city car with scissor doors in place of a traditional hatchback. Genesis likely won't put it into production, however.

Mercedes-Benz gives the tech-savvy 2020 CLA more power at New York Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation CLA during CES 2019, and it will expand the lineup when it unveils a midrange model named CLA 35 at the upcoming 2019 New York Auto Show.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.

Would you buy the Tarok compact pickup truck? Volkswagen wants to know

The Volkswagen Tarok pickup truck concept will make its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The truck first appeared at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, and VW wants to see what U.S. buyers think of it.

Sick of civilization? Volkswagen’s Atlas Basecamp concept lets you get away

Volkswagen revealed the Atlas Basecamp concept ahead of its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Built for overlanding, this family-hauler was upgraded jointly by Volkswagen and aftermarket manufacturers.

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo sheds weight, uses racing tricks to stay sharp

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo isn't dramatically different from the 2019 model, but Nissan made changes where it counts. The updated GT-R Nismo is lighter and offers better aerodynamic performance, according to Nissan.

Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is taking reservations for the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). The $80,000 NZT has 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

More than 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles belonging to carsharing service Car2Go were stolen in Chicago. Police are still working to recover all of the cars, which are equipped with GPS, and 21 people have been charged.

The VR goggles you wear to shoot alien ships is helping Magna design car parts

Canadian automotive supplier Magna has started using virtual reality in its research and development department. The technology helps engineers get a better view of what they're working on, whether it's an interior part or a powertrain.