The Return of the Nissan Xterra, Sort Of…

This is the 2021 Nissan X-Terra… which is for the overseas’ market. (Images: Nissan)

Built for the Middle Eastern market, the 2021 Nissan X-Terra is a Nissan Terra with cool badges.

Discontinued in the U.S. after 2015, the Nissan Xterra was one of the most capable off-road SUVs in its class. It was more accommodating than a Toyota FJ Cruiser. The burly Nissan was more compliant on the road than a Wrangler of the same vintage. Unfortunately, public interest, emissions, and economy pushed Nissan to hold off on a new one for the U.S. market.

This 2021 Nissan X-Terra is a Nissan Terra with a few updates (mainly badges and nose) to keep things fresh. Unlike the old X-Terra, which was underpinned by the F-Alpha platform, this version rides on a modified Nissan Navara (D23) platform. It is a three-row, truck-based SUV that has an optional, proper 4X4 with 4-Low. That 4X4 comes with an electronic locking rear differential or a brake-actuated limited-slip differential.


The 2021 X-Terra comes with a 165-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine developing 165 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It’s hooked up to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. Unlike the original, the new X-Terra has a four-wheel independent suspension with a rear multi-link coil spring suspension. It has a lifted (8.9-inch), beefed-up suspension, hill descent control, and a hill-start assist system. It is far-more like a (somewhat civilized) R51 Nissan Pathfinder than a rough-and-tumble, old-school X-Terra.

That fact becomes more evident when you see the nicely featured, somewhat luxurious interior.

Nissan’s new interior design language, which is a huge improvement over previous interiors, features Nissan’s comfy “Zero Gravity” seats, higher-end materials, higher-tech components, and a new infotainment system. On top of that, this 2021 Nissan X-Terra can seat five comfortably, and seven when needed. It also has an 11-inch flip-down screen with HDMI inputs.

The second row has a 60/40 split-bench seat, and the third row has a 50/50 split. When all of the seats are folded, it gives the X-Terra a flat loading floor. With the 112.2-inch wheelbase (which is identical to the old D23 Pathfinder), maximum cargo space should be just under 80-cubic feet.

A return to North America?

With the renewed interest in SUVs, the North American market seems like it’s ready for a return of the X-terra. Unfortunately, the SUV we see here probably won’t make it here. The platform and powertrain are meant for the overseas market. Still, Nissan is fully aware of fans wanting a return of the rugged X-Terra.

With that in mind, Nissan may be considering the next-generation Frontier as a platform to use with something similar to this vehicle. That theoretical SUV would (most likely) have the new 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission featured in the new Frontier as well.

Here the Nissan Xterra that we were all used to in the U.S.

Nissan has shown concepts in the past, but they are fairly tight-lipped about the future of the Nissan X-Terra here. Let’s hope they move ahead and build something awesome – like the old one.

Prices are expected to start around $30,000 USD.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.