Generation X may be all grown up, but the Nissan Xterra, a defining vehicle of that demographic group, sticks close to its original, rough-and-ready concept.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. chooses the New York auto show for the world debut of the second generation of its once-iconic SUV.

Nissan's second-generation Xterra.

“Xterra was a cornerstone vehicle in launching Nissan’s remarkable product revival in the late ’90s, showing the automotive industry that good things happen when you focus on meeting customers’ unmet needs, rather than following the competition,” says Mark McNabb, vice president and general manager-Nissan Div., Nissan North America Inc. “With this new-generation design, Xterra still has no equals.”

Nissan is retaining the “everything you need, nothing you don’t,” tagline for the Xterra, which when it bows early next year will face an onslaught of new competition. When the original Xterra went on sale, it went up against 40 competitive SUVs – a field that Nissan says now has grown to 70.

To meet this challenge the Xterra, which will continue to be built at Nissan’s Smyrna, TN, plant, will migrate to a modified version of the F-Alpha platform, originally developed for the fullsize Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV.

The Xterra also gets a new engine – a 4L version of Nissan’s 6-cyl. VQ, which Nissan estimates will make more than 250 hp and 270 lb.-ft. (366 Nm) of torque.

The engine, a modified version of the 3.5L V-6 found in the Altima, Maxima and 350Z, features a longer stroke and has been specifically tuned for SUV and truck applications. It also will go into the next-generation Frontier compact pickup and Pathfinder SUV.

In the Xterra, the V-6 is mated to either a 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual – both based on transmissions employed in the 350Z but tuned for truck use.

Despite changes under the hood and to the frame, the design concept doesn’t stray far from the original, continuing to emphasize ruggedness and functionality. Styling features include large, flared fenders, a new roof rack with latching lid and a new rear bumper design with large steps for easy access to the roof. The front end, including the signature grille, evokes a family resemblance to other Nissan trucks.

While the wheelbase has been extended 2 ins. (5.1 cm), the overall length is increased just a hair thanks to the reduced front overhang – which is supposed to make for better off-road maneuverability. Width has been increased 2.5 ins. (6.35 cm), while height is boosted 1.9 ins. (4.8 cm) for added ground clearance.

The interior also has grown, especially in the second row, where legroom has been increased 3.6 ins. (9.1 cm) and headroom boosted 2.3 ins. (5.8 cm). Nissan also concentrated on enhancing interior flexibility to create more storage capability.

The ’05 Xterra will come in three trim levels: the S, Off-Road, and SE. Each is offered with choice of transmission and 2- and 4-wheel drive configuration.

kzachary@primediabusiness.com