At the Canadian International Auto Show last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Rich Miller, the head guy in Nissan’s truck department. Miller might just be the quintessential truck guy. A guy who has a passion for outdoor life, as in hunting and guns, and must have a truck that is capable of getting him to and from the great outdoors.
To that end, I have to say that I was impressed to find that Miller and I own the same model of 2003 Nissan Xterra. A base version with manual transmission, which will go anywhere and is pretty much bulletproof. While mine is still daily driven, Miller recently moved his to a hunt camp in Alaska, where he uses it frequently for punishing runs into the bush.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get Miller to crack on the future of the Xterra, but I take solace in knowing that the guy in charge of trucks is passionate about the model. My gut says the X will go on.
What Rich did tell me was the lengths that his team went to learn what real truck owners want from the interior of their truck. A great example is the old school column shifter in the new Titan pickup. Miller tells me that a high percentage of the Texan truck owners they surveyed want space for three cups in their centre console. Why three? It seems that this segment of owners begin their day at the local quick mart with a coffee, a bottle of water and a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade. As the day progresses, the coffee cup becomes a spittoon, while the water and energy drink are consumed throughout the day. Yes, I said spittoon. Remember, that chewing tobacco is a much bigger deal in the south than it is here in Canada. The console was built around that big bottle of Gatorade and can actually hold two of them.
While Miller was in Toronto, he sat down with Nissan Canada’s media team to explain the name of the truck and why it is so relevant to the vehicle.