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Nissan and Infiniti aren't ready to kick old models to the curb

What’s old is new again.

Nissan and its luxury division Infiniti will each continue to sell a previous-generation vehicle, even as its replacement rolls into dealerships, the brands have announced. The move is largely to give buyers a lower-priced option that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

In November, Nissan’s all-new Rogue compact crossover SUV will go on sale. It will feature a completely redesigned body and interior, and will offer third-row seating as an option. The Rogue competes in a rapidly expanding segment that includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape.

PHOTOS: Nissan's 2014 Rogue crossover

Several months later, Nissan will also start selling the Rogue Select. The vehicle is essentially the outgoing Rogue model with a few minor tweaks to keep it current.

With the new Rogue moving more upmarket in terms of features and price, “There is an opening for a low-cost, high-content offering, which is a gap that Rogue Select will fill," said Fred Diaz, vice president of Nissan’s sales and marketing.

The 2014 Rogue will start at $22,490 (before destination) for a base, front-wheel-drive model. Meanwhile, the cheaper Rogue Select will start under $20,000, Nissan said.

The Rogue is Nissan’s second-most-popular vehicle, behind only its Altima sedan. By selling both Rogue models at the same time, the Nissan is keen to cover all its bases in the compact SUV segment — which sells millions of vehicles a year.

Despite the continuation of the Rogue Select, don’t expect to see it in Nissan ads, said Scott Shirley, Nissan’s chief marketing manager for the Rogue and Rogue Select.

The new Rogue is the face of Nissan in the compact SUV segment, and the brand will treat it accordingly. Only when consumers visit a Nissan dealership will they see the Rogue Select is still for sale, Shirley said.

Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti is following a similar strategy with its G37 sedan. The car was recently replaced by the all-new Q50 sedan, which recently went on sale. The Q50 tackles the likes of compact sport sedans including the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Lexus IS.

Yet the Q50 only comes with a powerful six-cylinder engine, while nearly all its competitors offer a cheaper four-cylinder or small six-cylinder engine as well. To prevent these entry-level customers from shopping elsewhere, Infiniti will continue to sell the G37 (now dubbed the G sedan) next to the Q50.

A G sedan will start at $33,455, including destination. Meanwhile, the cheapest you could get a new Q50 for is $37,605, including destination. In this price range, a $4,000 difference matters to customers.

Infiniti does have plans to bring a four-cylinder engine to the Q50 lineup, though such a move is at least a year away. The brand is co-developing a turbocharged four-pot with Mercedes-Benz.

This strategy of offering old and new at the same time isn’t entirely unheard of. Chevrolet is currently doing this with its all-new full-size Impala. The outgoing model is still available for commercial use only, where it’s been an immensely popular vehicle for Chevy. Meanwhile, customers and fleet buyers alike can buy the redesigned 2014 model.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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