Palmer expects the funky Cube small CUV to snap back, too, a car expected to see its first redesign for the U.S. in 2015 as a ’16 model. It launched here in 2008 as an ’09 model after several years of sales success in Japan, and the segment in the U.S. is just catching fire.

Sales of the Cube last year fell 28.8% to 5,461 units from 7,667, and through March deliveries were down 36.0% to 1,248 from 1,951. Just four years ago, the Cube sold a respectable 22,968 units.

A key competitor, the Kia Soul, has seen sales rise 12.6% to 32,668 copies, while volume of another polarizing Nissan CUV, the Juke, are up 71.1% to 15,582.

“The name will live on, and the basic concept will live on, but not executed in the way you see it today,” he says.

Palmer says U.S. buyers likely will embrace the new Titan large pickup, coming next year in a more competitive iteration than any of its past 12 lackluster years in the market, and news Toyota would match Nissan with a  5.0L Cummins V-8 turbodiesel engine in its next-generation Tundra due in 2016 doesn’t surprise the executive.

“We didn’t do any exclusive deal with Cummins,” Palmer says. “Cummins is able to sell to whoever they would like. They make a great engine, that’s why we chose them.”

Palmer instead finds it ironic that Toyota will follow Nissan with a Cummins diesel for its trucks, according to a WardsAuto forecast, shortly after the rival announced a new alternative-powertrain play on the heels of the groundbreaking Nissan Leaf.

“I’m pleased to do their product planning for them,” he says with a laugh.

Palmer promises the next Titan will be the most appealing yet after being developed entirely in the backyard of truck sales leaders General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The Titan was engineered in Farmington Hills, MI, designed in California and will be built in Canton, MS. Its diesel comes out of Columbus, IN.

“The next fullsize pickup is genuinely an all-American product,” he says. “It doesn’t get any more American than the product we’re developing.”

In fact, Palmer suggests, the Titan must be better than any large pickup on the market to make a dent in Detroit Three’s dominance of the segment.

“We’ve got everything to prove,” he says.

jamend@wardsauto.com