New Nissan Murano, Armada, and new Rogue trim will continue brand's rebound

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek 361

Another week, another drip in the feed covering Nissan’s plan to restore its product and its brand. The news this time comes from dealer sources who spoke to Automotive News about regional meetings held in Boston, Dallas, and Orlando. Two summaries from two dealers to AN were, “We haven’t talked product in ages,” and, “The message is the car is the star,” which throw up all kinds of implications about the dark times Nissan’s emerging from. The dealers had positive things to say about new product on the way as soon as this year, which includes a badly needed fourth-generation Murano.

The current Murano went on sale at the beginning of 2015 for the 2016 model year; from 86,953 sales in the U.S. in 2016, the Murano spent following years sinking to 31,138 sales in 2023. AN‘s sources said the new model will sit on an evolution of its current D Platform, get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, focus on premium appointments over sportiness, and — get this — boot the current CVT for a nine-speed automatic. It’s also being compared to the Acura MDX for looks, with a “Porsche-like rear,” which we’ll take to mean a full-width light bar across the hatch.

Now that the new Infiniti QX80 is out, the Armada’s in the big SUV chute. It will follow its Infiniti sibling into greater luxury, with “a ton of technology” set in a new interior featuring finer furnishings and trimmings. Unsurprisingly, a turbocharged six-cylinder goes in the engine bay.  

Toward the end of the year, a Rogue Rock Creek Edition will join the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition as an off-road-focused trim and competitor to the Honda Passport. So far, all we’re getting on that is “off-road tires and a big roof rack.”   

They will be pitched to customers with a new marketing angle that, instead of using celebrities, highlights “vehicle features and design and the dealership experience,” in AN‘s words.

Dealers were less enthused about what they considered blank spots in the meeting presentations, namely, how Nissan wants dealers to get from today to the better future. Nissan’s national dealer inventory stands about 30% above the national average, and dealers said the automaker has refused to hit the Big Incentives button again, after tanking brand equity and profitability by doing so in the 2010s. The problem is that the situation hasn’t improved much; Nissan’s product is better and continuing to improve, but the competition is even stronger than it was six or seven years ago, before the pandemic. One dealer said, “Many consumers aren’t considering a Nissan model because of the badge on the front,” a perception gap we noted when saying the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder “deserves more attention than it gets,” especially in Rock Creek trim.

The course of this year will show us all how Nissan plans to walk the path, its product and dealers in tow. A reborn, and real, Xterra would likely go a long way to making everyone happy. 

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