Nissan Xterra Breaks New Ground with 'In-Your-Face' Functionality
7 January 1999
Nissan Xterra Breaks New Ground with 'In-Your-Face' Functionality; Built on Rugged Frontier 4x4 Platform
DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. today unveiled the latest addition to its sport utility vehicle lineup with the introduction of the all-new Nissan Xterra during a press conference at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. The Xterra, which burst onto the stage from a 23-foot tall backpack, was described by creator Jerry Hirshberg, president, Nissan Design International, Inc. (NDI), as a "return to the soul of the sport utility vehicle."
The affordable, mid-size SUV is based on the Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup platform and will be available in both 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive, with a choice of V6 and 4-cylinder engines. It is scheduled to go on sale in the summer of 1999 as a year 2000 model at Nissan dealers nationwide.
"As the popularity of sport utility vehicles has exploded in the 1990s, the category has been both diversified and diluted," said Michael Seergy, vice president and general manager, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. "One part of our back-to-basics business plan has been to reexamine product categories where Nissan has both heritage and strength. The new Xterra is a return to the basic concept, size, ruggedness and affordability of the original Nissan Pathfinder -- a vehicle that helped popularize SUVs in the first place."
The Xterra name was chosen to help distinguish it from the slightly larger, more elegant and sophisticated current generation Nissan Pathfinder. "Xterra" is intended to reinforce the connection to the earth (terrain) and the adventurous lifestyle of its target buyers. It suggests imagery of activity, energy and excitement.
"It Is What It Does"
Xterra is built on the Frontier 4x4's 104.3-inch wheelbase and truck-style ladder-on-frame chassis, it is longer, wider and taller than vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee and Toyota RAV4.
At the same time, pricing is expected to be in line with many mini-SUVs when it is announced closer to Xterra's on-sale date -- due in part to its functional design, shared platform and its United States-based design, engineering and assembly. Xterra will be built at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A., Nissan's award-winning Smyrna, Tenn.-based facility.
"Xterra was created for a new generation of younger, active buyers, so affordability was a key requirement from its very inception," said Seergy. "We hope these outdoor enthusiasts will think of Xterra as part of their gear -- as tough, reliable and dependable as the other quality equipment they use. Xterra is a vehicle that will help them enjoy their outdoor passions to the fullest, and then get them home safely again."
Numerous unique elements have been built into the design of the Xterra and its accessories to enhance the vehicle's functionality -- from up to 10 interior ceiling and floor tie-down hooks and clips to dual interior mountain bike mounts.
"In simplest terms, Xterra is designed to be a tough, mobile place for stuff," explained Hirshberg. "Its core appeal is its simplicity. It is what is does."
A Unique Body, A Solid Foundation
Xterra's body, styled by NDI Director of Design Tom Semple, emphasizes its tough, rugged muscular look. The front view is anchored by a large, black-finished grille and bumper and rough, angular surface edges. The headlights, front bumper, hood, A-pillars and front doors are common to Frontier.
The side view features angular, stamped fender flares which create its "broad shoulder" appearance. The raised roof line over the rear passenger and cargo area provides ample headroom inside for stadium-style rear seating and also gives Xterra its distinctive profile. Rear door handles are located in the C-pillars for a cleaner look. Available tubular step rails and tubular roof rack are functional, rugged and create a visual "exoskeleton" for the vehicle.
The roof rack is rated at greater than 125 pounds and is constructed of lightweight aluminum and powder-coated for extra durability. A special removable front basket can carry up to 30 pounds of wet or dirty gear (secured by an accessory net), and the aerodynamic, adjustable cross bars are available with a range of accessory attachments to help configure complex loads -- including a number of created by Yakima(R).
In the rear, Xterra utilizes angular rear glass, privacy glass and an asymmetrical "backpack pod," which is accessible with the tailgate lifted and can hold practical items such as a first aid kit (available from Nissan) or windbreaker.
Underneath, Xterra's pure, all-terrain utility is reinforced by its tough 4x4 truck chassis -- full frame (rather than unibody), double-wishbone front suspension and solid rear axle with leaf springs and stabilizer bars front and rear. Xterra is available in 2-wheel drive or part-time shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case. Engine and fuel tank skid plates are standard on all models.
Two engines are available: a powerful 170-horsepower SOHC 3.3-liter V6 and Nissan's proven 143-horsepower DOHC 2.4-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder. Xterra models equipped with the 4-cylinder engine come with a standard 5-speed manual transmission, while V6-equipped models offer a choice of 5-speed manual or electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmissions.
Power-assisted steering and 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) are standard on all models. Available wheels and tires include styled-steel or 4-spoke machined-aluminum alloy wheels and P235/70R15 or P265/70R15 all-season radials.
Towing capacity is rated at 2,500 pounds for the 4-cylinder/2-wheel drive model and up to a full 5,000 pounds for V6 models with the automatic transmission.
Despite its truck-like ruggedness, Xterra has also been designed to provide a comfortable on-road ride, responsive handling and a quiet interior.
A Place For Stuff -- Plenty of It
The interior of the new Nissan Xterra, also created at NDI, is designed clearly to put the "utility" back in sport utility vehicle. It is spacious without ornamentation, functional without frills. Xterra offers seating for five adults, with front bucket seats and stadium-style 50/50 split rear fold-down bench seating for added versatility and a great view for rear seat passengers. The rear seat cushions are removable, providing a large, flat cargo area with the rear seat folded down.
Storage pockets are included on the back of the front passenger seat and on the upper left side -- an ideal "pants pocket" for holding sunglasses, wallet or flip-phone. There are also small storage bins in the cargo area.
Xterra offers a variety of available equipment ranging from front and rear auxiliary 12 volt power points and retractable cargo cover to hooks, nets and dual interior bike racks. Other Xterra accessories are expected to include ski attachments, side window deflectors, nose masks, exterior bike racks and even neoprene seat covers. Other accessories include a per guard divider, hot/cold storage box, sporty carbon fiber trim pieces, GPS and rack attachments for skis, snowboards, kayaks, bikes, as well as pocketbox and safari basket.
Audio systems range from a four speaker AM/FM/cassette system to an AM/FM/cassette/CD with six speakers and an available 6-CD autochanger.
A Choice of Models
The 2000 Xterra will be available in five engine/drive/trim configurations to meet the needs and desires of a range of buyers: 4x2 XE 4-cylinder, 4x2 XE V6, 4x2 SE V6, 4x4 XE V6 and 4x4 SE V6. Optional equipment packages help the buyer further customize their Xterra vehicles for an even higher level of utility, sportiness or convenience with items ranging from power windows and door locks to fog lights and a limited slip differential. Xterra will be available in eight exterior colors and two interior colors.
The Spirit of Nissan Lives On In Xterra
"We're having fun at Nissan and the new Xterra is a prime example," said Seergy. "We're returning to our roots with high quality, exciting and affordable cars and trucks. It's the spirit that established Nissan's reputation in the United States and the spirit that will propel us into the future with more innovative thinking and products to come."