The funky SUV Nissan Xterra, that Nissan insiders refer to as "the car that saved the company", has gone out of production rather than undergo re-engineering for new federal crash regulations.
Priced and outfitted for youthful buyers, with oversized roof racks, washable cargo area and quirky theater-style raised rear seating, the Xterra proved an instant American success for Nissan in 1999, a time when the Japanese automaker was on the ropes financially. As a relatively inexpensive extension of the Nissan Frontier compact pickup's architecture, the SUV generated profits that helped lift cash-strapped Nissan's outlook.
Recently Nissan said Xterra production ended in August at its sole factory in Canton, Miss. The Xterra reached peak sales of 88,578 in 2000. Growing competition and changing consumer preferences led it on a multiyear decline to just 16,505 sales last year. The market is filling with lighter and more refined unibody crossovers.