2014 NISSAN X-TRAIL REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $31,580 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 126kW/226Nm 2.5 petrol 4cyl | CVT
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.1 l/100km | tested: 11.4 l/100km (city cycle only)
Where the previous two generations of X-Trail won hearts by being rugged and capable, this new version aims to be softer, friendlier and more appealing to city dwellers.
Yes, you can still have it with all-wheel-drive, but the utilitarian boxy lines have been replaced by a swoopier urban style. Inside the interior is peppered with more refined details, soft touch plastics, and (gasp) even a carpeted boot floor.
Seven seats are restricted to the two-wheel-drive models. So, to see what the X-trail brings to the seven-seat party, we took the 2.5 litre ST 2WD for a spin.
- Seven seats with slide and recline adjustment for the middle row
- Cloth seat trim, manually-adjusted front seats
- Proximity key with push-button start
- Six speaker audio with 5-inch colour display, single CD, AM, FM, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, plus NissanConnect app connectivity on selected smart phones.
- Boot capacity: 500 litres with rear seats stowed or 1520 litres with 50:50 split rear and 40:20:40 split middle row stowed
Compared to the model before it, the interior of the new X-Trail could barely be more different. Gone is the slabby austere styling of old, and, in its place, a more inviting car-like dash takes centre stage.
For comfort, there is little to complain about. The two front rows will accommodate frames of all sizes, and the middle row can be slid fore and aft, with an adjustable backrest for added comfort.
The third row is compact, as you’d expect, but with the middle row pushed forward it will very nearly handle a pair of shorter adults - in a 'knees up' position at least.
There’s also the comfort of rear air-vents for the second row, and even a ventilation outlet in the front cup-holders to keep your drinks cool (or warm) depending upon the ventilation settings.
In the boot, there’s a lidded bin that can handily be used as a luggage divider, but the innovative 'divide-n-hide' system of the five-seat models is instead replaced by the third-row seats.
Gone is the wet-storage drawer system, and plastic-lined cargo bay of the previous generation too. Many owners won’t mind, but those accustomed to travelling with damp dogs or sandy scuba gear will lament the changes to the new model.
Nissan also goes to great lengths to mention how family-proof the interior is.
In reality the velour-like cloth trim of the ST was a magnet for fluff, lint and pet-hair and it was a constant task to keep it looking fresh.
We struggled a bit with the audio system too.
The colour screen looks great and is well integrated, but instead of a touch-screen, the controls (for things like Bluetooth setup and calling) are accessed via the steering wheel and don’t always feel intuitive.
ON THE ROAD
- 126kW/226Nm naturally aspirated 2.5 litre petrol four cylinder
- Xtronic CVT automatic with six-speed manual mode
- Independent front, multi-link independent rear suspension
- Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- 8.1 l/100km claimed consumption
The 2.5 litre we drove claims reasonably-healthy outputs of 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm at 4400rpm.
Being front-wheel-drive, our tester came with seven-seats (AWD is only available on five-seat variants).
Immediately noticeable is that Nissan has been hard at work making sure its new generation CVT models drive drone-free. Although one of the better CVTs around, under heavy acceleration it will still pick a point on the tacho and build speed to the accompaniment of flat-lining revs from under the bonnet.
However, on this test we stuck to the city. In normal driving on city streets it's hard to fault the on-road performance of the engine or transmission.
It will spring from the lights with little protest, and keep revs low when not pushed too entusiastically.
There’s an eco-mode button too, push it and you’ll feel the change.
By softening throttle response and changing the transmission’s shift-map, it has a noticeable effect on fuel consumption, but it does turn the X-Trail into a lethargic slug.
The rear-view camera is an absolute necessity, with rear visibility hampered by fat D-pillars. Forward visibility suffers too as a result of the wide A-pillars - so, be sure to consider this carefully if you take a test drive.
Despite these ergonomic shortcomings, this new X-Trail is a refined small wagon and it's only when pinning the throttle that the engine can become thrashy and a little intrusive. All up, the X-Trail offers a subdued and relaxed driving experience.
Steering and brakes are about class-average. Owners of the previous model will find the handling a little more accurate than before. It is still an SUV though, so responses are dulled by a tall body sitting up high.
ANCAP rating: The 2014 X-Trail has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Six airbags, rear-view camera, stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist and EBD. Front seatbelts feature load-limiting pretensioners and height adjustment, and each seat scores a three-point seatbelt and adjustable head restraint with ISOFIX fitting points in the second row.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s plenty of heat in the Medium SUV sector, so theres no shortage of options. Most of these benefit from a few generations of SUV experience, and all are safe choices to consider.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Just like the large Pathfinder before it, the X-Trail has ditched its versatile off-roadability in the pursuit of improved on-road feel. It wants to be ‘family friendly’ and more accessible to city-bound buyers.
So while this new version tows less (1500kg vs the previous 2000kg) it carries more in the boot, or - depending on what you choose to do with the seating - offers the opportunity to carry two extra passengers.
It is also a generation better in terms of refinement and comfort.
Sorry country customers, you might now want to look at Jeep’s new Cherokee in the pursuit of bush compatibility.
For anyone else, Nissan has an appealing car here. It offers relaxed performance for the work commute as well as surprising space and comfort for getting the 'fruits of the loins' to cricket training or ballet lessons.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- ST 2.0L Manual - $27,990 ($31,155 estimated drive-away)
- ST 2.5L Xtronic - $30,490 ($33,727)
- ST 2.5L Xtronic - Seven Seat - $31,580 ($34,853)
- ST-L 2.5L Xtronic - $36,190 ($39,601)
- ST-L 2.5L Xtronic - Seven Seat - $37,190 ($40,631)
- ST 2.5L Xtronic - $33,980 ($37,325)
- ST-L 2.5L Xtronic - $39,080 ($42,575)
- Ti 2.5L Xtronic - $44,680 ($48,343)