Crossover concept wasn’t a slam dunk, but it did turn a lot of heads

Nissan didn’t have as big of a presence as other automakers at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. But that doesn’t matter. What it lacked in volume, Nissan made up for with the debut of the Xmotion, a concept SUV that’s meant to showcase what a future Nissan SUV could look like. The Xmotion generated a lot of reaction, though not all of them were of the positive nature.


2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept Exterior
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The exterior of the Nissan Xmotion Concept is a contrast in stylistic approach, something that Nissan intended to do from the beginning

The exterior of the Nissan Xmotion Concept is a contrast in stylistic approach, something that Nissan intended to do from the beginning. According to the automaker, the concept “fuses Japanese culture and traditional craftsmanship with American-style utility.” In some ways, Nissan is right to give that description because the Xmotion does draw heavily from the two design languages. The result, though, leaves a lot to be desired.

I’m confused with the XMotion Concept, not because it’s ugly — it’s not — but because it didn’t accomplish what it intended to by combining Western and Eastern design philosophies. In a word, the concept’s extra is confusing. The front section suffers from this design approach because it looks bulky from some angles and edgy on others. The U-shaped headlights are a nice design touch, but its appeal is swallowed up the massive V-motion grille that dominates the conversation. The front bumper looks brash and the under-body guards are too big for the concept.

2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept Exterior
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The U-shaped headlights are a nice design touch, but its appeal is swallowed up the massive V-motion grille that dominates the conversation

It’s the same story with those wheels. Nissan describes them as 21-inch “mechanical tool-inspired” aluminum alloy wheels. The tires themselves don’t come separate to the wheels; they’re actually “laminated” over the wheels. It’s certainly a novel approach on how the industry can integrate wheels and tires in the future, but I’m not a fan of the finished product.

There are some good spots in the exterior of the Xmotion.The side and rear profiles of the concept are easier on the eyes. The retractable roof box also has a nice design touch, and the tail light design is something I’d want to see in a future production Nissan. But for the most part, the Xmotion is provocative, though not in the way Nissan intended.


As polarizing as the exterior of the Xmotion is, the interior looks very promising.

As polarizing as the exterior of the Xmotion is, the interior looks very promising. Maybe it’s because Nissan opted to just use Japanese design themes as inspiration. The result is a more natural concept interpretation that I can fully get on-board with. There are some aspects that hilariously venture a little too far into a world of pure imagination. The seven digital screen portions are excessive, and the Japanese wood dashboard that was created using the kanawa tsugi wood joinery technique is unrealistic on a production level. Other than these two touches, the interior features elements that are intriguing.

The 4+2 passenger layout is interesting, and the ability to control the display and infotainment system with eye movements and gestures is promising from the standpoint of potential future integration.


2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept Exterior
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Nissan didn’t specify the kind of powertrain the Xmotion has.

Nissan didn’t specify the kind of powertrain the Xmotion has. That’s probably because it doesn’t have any. The model is still a concept so certain liberties can be taken to stretch our imaginations.

It’s a different story if Nissan decides to build a production model. Should that happen, I think Nissan’s going to opt for either a hybrid or electric technology. My first inclination is a powertrain similar to the one the IMx crossover reportedly has, specifically two "high-output" motors, one for each axle, that produce 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque combined. The powertrain also has a high-capacity battery that’s supposed to return a driving range of more than 372 miles per charge.


2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept Exterior
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I appreciate the boldness of the Nissan Xmotion. All concepts should carry a little bit of this approach because the very essence of concepts is to capture our imaginations. I’m not a fan of how the exterior turned out, but the interior looks like a promising look into the world of Nissan’s interior. I can’t speak for the engine and performance work of the concept because it doesn’t have any. All told, the Xmotion is an intriguing concept that did its job. It started discussions that turned into heated debates along the way. Like it or not, that’s the kind of reaction concepts should generate, to begin with.

  • Leave it
    • Exterior looks confusing
    • Those wheels are too radical
    • No powertrain


New Nissan Xmotion Concept Is A Mess Of Different Ideas Exterior Interior
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New Nissan Xmotion Concept Is A Mess Of Different Ideas

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Read more Nissan news.

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Press release

Nissan today revealed the Xmotion concept, a design exploration for a potentially groundbreaking compact SUV, building on the company’s long history of cutting-edge crossovers and SUVs.

Making its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the six-passenger, three-row Nissan Xmotion (pronounced "cross motion") concept fuses Japanese culture and traditional craftsmanship with American-style utility and new-generation Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology.

"In the Xmotion concept, we explored the more rugged and powerful side of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Bold and powerful forms and proportions are, upon closer inspection, contrasted with aspects of traditional Japanese craftsmanship expressed in a contemporary way," said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "The exterior’s combination of western and eastern concepts continues inside the Xmotion, where advanced connectivity and autonomous technologies mix with modern Japanese digital art and cultural craftsmanship. At a glance, Xmotion may appear to have a minimal design language, but a closer look reveals layers of detail that make this concept exceptional."

Signaling the future of Nissan design, the Xmotion concept’s stunning exterior features a powerful dynamic presence with understated sculptural beauty, including unique U-shaped highlights and a bold evolution of Nissan’s signature V-motion grille.

The visual simplicity of the Xmotion concept exterior is contrasted by the rugged, metal-crafted wheels and all-terrain tire design. Like the rest of vehicle, the mechanical tool-inspired wheels and all-terrain tires coexist as one piece, with the tire tread physically laminated over the 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Additional exterior features include a retractable "rooftop box" and a unique tail light design inspired by Japanese woodwork.

With its long wheelbase, with wheels and tires pushed out to the extremes of the corners, the Xmotion concept allows for the creation of a fresh, "4+2" passenger layout. Featuring three rows of side-by-side individual seats, it’s designed to provide a perfect space for a young couple, another couple and two children or pets in the third row.

Inside, the Xmotion concept’s crafted interior design symbolizes a Japanese landscape, honoring Nissan’s roots while incorporating advanced graphic user interfaces and autonomous driving technologies.

The interior itself was created with the imagery of a river on the floor, with the center console acting as a bridge. The console, the core of the interior design, uses a traditional Japanese architectural wood joinery technique, kanawa tsugi, found in the carpentry used to build religious temples and shrines.

The Xmotion concept’s instrument panel design is a modern interpretation of traditional kigumi wood joinery. By using the kigumi structure in the instrument panel and console, the vehicle’s interior suggests a robust bone structure, creating a sense of strength and trust.

The interior includes a total of seven digital screen portions. Three main displays and left and right end displays span the width of the instrument panel. There’s also a "digital room mirror" in the ceiling and a center console display.

The displays and infotainment system can be controlled by gestures and eye movements. Intuitive controls and a voice command system allow drivers to focus on driving, helping them access various information in a smart, easy and safe manner.

"We envision the Xmotion concept to be a highly functional SUV that can be driven every day, yet can take the owners and friends to a national park or recreation area on a whim," Albaisa said. "With its combination of style and technology, this concept fulfills Nissan’s mission of moving people to a better world."

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