First launched in 1993 and discontinued only in 2006, the model enjoyed long market life in just one generation, with its basic form unchanged, albeit having been significantly updated throughout its lifetime.

The Nissan Terrano came in two body styles differing in wheelbase—a shorter three-door and longer five-door model. For the British market chiefly, a panel van version of the three-door was also made. The vehicle's body, tall compared to most competitors and providing for high ground clearance. In 1996, the car was facelifted, gaining round headlights.

The Nissan Terrano  had 2.4 petrol and 2.7 TD turbodiesels at its launch in 1993; from 1996 the petrol engine became injected and the diesel intercooled, with 2.4i and 2.7 TDi replacing the previous models. From 1999 until 2006 a 3.0 TDi DOHC, direct injected, turbodiesel intercooled engine was produced.