Another great big subtraction in the choice of proper off-roaders comes with news from Edmunds that the Nissan Xterra will meet its maker after the 2015 model year. Sales of the body-on-frame SUV introduced in 1999 declined seven percent last year compared to 2013, a total of just 16,505 getting off dealer lots. That's about 1,800 more sales than the Toyota FJ Cruiser achieved for the year, another rugged trail runner recently dispatched into the ether. Meanwhile, the king-of-the-hill Jeep Wrangler almost matched those annual sales number each month in 2014; it moved 19,235 in May alone.
Nissan hasn't exactly cared about the Xterra for years; Edmunds reported in 2013 that Nissan was "mulling the Xterra's future" and would take a year to decide if it was going to keep going. But it has been clear for years that the company wasn't too interested in its hardcore off-roader in spite of its "enthusiastic fan base inside and outside the company." The last visible refresh came in 2009, when it was 4Wheeler magazine's SUV of the Year, the next minor feature updates not arriving until 2014. And the Nissan-backed off-road triathlon series the Xterra was named for died in 2006.
That's why there's no business case for throwing money at re-engineering the Xterra's safety and emissions specs, especially in a world gone crazy for subcompact crossovers. We contacted Nissan for comment on the report and asked if another Nissan vehicle, like the Rogue, would be positioned as a near-replacement, as has been speculated before. Product communications director Dan Bedore told us, "Nissan has made no announcement as to the future status of Xterra. For proprietary reasons, we do not discuss future product plans or comment on media speculation about future plans."
Right now we can hear the Jeep Wrangler at the top of the mountain screaming, "Nobody wants a piece of this? Really?!" So come on, General Motors - it's up to you now.