NISSAN X-TRAIL REVIEW
What’s hot: On road comfort and refinement, roomy and well-finished.
What’s not: Third row seats for garden gnomes only; Ti is ‘exxy’.
X-FACTOR: The versatile wagon for the modern young family: and much easier to live with than a lumbering large SUV.
Vehicle style: Small family SUV
ST from $27,990 (2.0 litre 2WD manual) - $33,980 (2.5 litre CVT auto 4X4)
ST-L from $36,190 (2WD CVT auto) - $39,080 (2.5 litre CVT auto 4X4)
Ti from $44,680 (2.5 litre CVT auto 4X4)
Engine/trans: 2.0 petrol, 6spd manual | 2.5 petrol, CVT auto
Power/torque: 2.0 litre 106kw/200Nm; 2.5 litre 126kW/226Nm
listed: 2.5 litre 2WD: 8.1 l/100km | 2.5 litre 4X4: 8.3 l/100km
tested: 2.5 litre 2WD: 8.2 l/100km | 2.5 litre 4X4: 8.6 l/100km
This new Nissan X-Trail is right in the slot for Australian family buyers.
Versatile, sized ‘right’ and reasonably-priced in lower and mid-spec models, it does what the well-respected old X-Trail did, but better.
Sitting on an all-new platform (Renault-Nissan’s new Common Module Platform), this new model is a comfortable and well-sorted drive.
Sure, it’s no sports car - there is a fair degree of body roll thanks to a compliant long-travel suspension - but, with the 2.5 litre petrol engine sitting in the snout, it can summon the necessary urgency on-road when required.
It can also stray a little further off-road than most in its ‘soft-roading’ SUV sector. Add a roomy interior and there is a lot of appeal here for middle Australian family buyers.
Style-wise, the new X-Trail is the best iteration yet of Nissan’s curvy new style-language. It carries an air of quality and balance that sets it a little apart in its segment, and it looks and feels robust, refined and well-built.
We think the Ti is a little pricey; while not especially cheap in 4X4 form, the mid-spec ST-L is perhaps the value buy when you stack up the features against the dollars asked.
But the ST is also pretty well-kitted.
We drove all three models at launch, ST, ST-L and the top-spec Ti, in both 2WD and 4WD forms (but not the 2.0 litre ST manual).
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Five-inch LCD colour QVDA monitor, Rear-view camera
- Intelligent Key with push button start, cruise control
- AM/FM radio, 1CD, MP3, USB, AUX, Bluetooth, Smartphone Connectivity
- EZ Flex Seating with ‘Divide ’n’ Hide’ flexible cargo storage system (five-seat variants)
X-TRAIL ST-L adds:
- Front fog lamps, roof rails and power tilt and slide sunroof
- Seven-inch LCD screen with ‘Around View’ monitor, satellite navigation and digital radio
- Leather-accented seats, steering wheel, shift knob
- Power front driver seat with electric lumbar support
- Heated driver and passenger front seats
- Dual-zone climate control
X-TRAIL Ti adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights
- Sensor-activated powered tailgate
- Auto-levelling headlights and rain-sensing wipers, anti-dazzle rear-view mirror
- Lane departure warning, moving object detection and blind spot warning
Slide in behind the small leather-wrapped steering wheel, and you’ll find one of the better interiors in this segment.
It is certainly up with Mazda’s CX-5 for the impression of quality. The soft-feel dash, sensible lay-out, chrome and faux-metal highlights and smart instrument binnacle set it apart in the segment.
The seven-inch screen in ST-L and Ti models is well-integrated and looks smart. We also really like the turn-by-turn sat nav which is displayed in the driver’s display, right in the line of sight.
The front seats are comfortable (they’re Nissan’s ‘zero-gravity’ design, shaped to reduce fatigue and spinal load), but, even for my stumpy legs, they’re a tad short in the squab.
The leather trim on the ST-L and Ti models is appealing to the touch and finely grained; the fabric in the lower-specced ST is no great let-down though and equally comfortable.
We really like the theatre-style seating in the second row. They’re at least 100mm higher than the front seats, and the outward view is terrific. They will really appeal to younger passengers.
Legroom is also very good in the second row (which also comes with ISO-FIX tethers).
In seven-seat models (available only in 2WD ST and ST-L variants) the third row is too tight to be of any use but for transporting the very young. It’s cramped in there and foot-space is in very short supply.
It is easy to access though. The second row seats slide forward and tilt to make a nice wide entry.
Another useful touch (for families with younger children) is that the rear doors open to 80 degrees, making it easier to load or unload a child safety seat.
There are bottle holders where you and your kids will be looking for them, and the deep cubby hole under the centre console can easily swallow an SLR camera.
Storage capacity is good. Boot space measures 550 litres to the window line with the third row tucked away, rising to 1520 litres with the second row folded flat.
With the third row in place, there is not much there - just 135 litres... perhaps just enough room to allow a decent trip to the supermarket.
The best trick with the boot though is the way it compartmentalises into three spaces if you want to tuck things out of sight, or separate the load.
ON THE ROAD
- 2.0-litre 106kW/200Nm (ST 2WD manual only)
- 2.5-litre 126kW/226Nm
- Electronic power steering
- Independent MacPherson strut front suspension; multi-link rear
- Ventilated disc brakes front and rear (foot operated park brake)
- ST and ST-L: 17-inch alloys and 225/65 R17 tyres
- Ti: 18-inch alloys and 225/60 R18 tyres
The older model X-Trail was far from shabby on road, and off it.
The new model is better. It has a comfortable ride, is quieter than most (certainly quieter than the CR-V and CX-5), and, except when under full power, offers a level of refinement you’d more expect in a larger premium buy.
The caveat is “except under full power”. Then the 2.5 litre petrol engine can sound a little hoary. It’s the CVT at work.
We have no complaints with the way it steps through its seven ratios in normal driving - it does this seamlessly and without notice.
But if floored from standstill or when motoring slowly, the new X-Trail can sound a little thrashy while the engine and CVT sort themselves out.
It doesn’t flare annoyingly (in the way older CVTs are prone to do), but it’s not as serene as a conventional auto.
That said, it’s quick enough; the CVT harnesses the 226Nm of the 2.5 litre engine very well.
The X-Trail can pick up its skirts for safe overtaking, and, thanks to the stepped ratios, keeps the engine right in the meat of the torque band when confronted with hills.
Overall, given the target market - that family buyer demographic - we like the way this car goes about things.
Bumps and broken tarmac barely ruffle it; it is well-tuned for easy long distance travel.
The electric steering is a tad over-assisted (for my liking), but is certainly light and, though the turning circle is nothing to write home about, the X-Trail is nimble and easily manouvreable.
There’s a degree of body roll however, made more noticeable by the light steering - the feel is that the front end turns in a tad too sharply for the body (which lurches a little as a result).
Fuel consumption is very good. We rarely get anywhere near the listed claims, but there we have it: 8.2 l/100km for the 2WD and 8.6 l/100km for the 4X4 model. That’s pretty darn good.
We gave the ST-L 2.5 litre 4X4 a reasonable run off road. There was nothing too challenging along the trail we were on, but some deeply rutted and rocky sections to contend with.
You wouldn’t take a normal small wagon along this kind of road (unless you hated it). We were pretty impressed by the ease which the X-Trail managed things.
We gave it a pretty good workout - not quite rally style, but pushing it enough to find the bump-stops more than a few times.
There are three selectable settings when tackling this terrain: 2WD, Auto 4WD, and 4WD ‘lock’.
The latter setting works very well when traction is needed; it pinches the brake on any wheel that loses traction, directing torque to the wheels doing the work.
It not only works in slippery conditions, but provides better tracking (and tightens the line) when corning quickly on gravel.
It won’t go where a heavy duty off-roader will go, but it will get you close by.
Approach and departure angles are a little tighter than in the old X-Trail, but still pretty good at 24.9 degrees (each end).
Ground clearance is also pretty good at 210mm.
If you take it off road though, you need to be aware that all models come with just a space-saving temporary spare. Take warning, as it is easy to perforate a tyre-wall on sharp stones, ruts and embedded sticks.
There is no shortage of safety features. The X-Trail comes with driver and passenger front airbags, side and curtain airbags, second row ISOFIX and top tether anchor points for child seats, anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), stability control, hill decent control (4X4 models), hill start assist and limited slip differential, plus reversing camera on all models among a suite of dynamic and passive safety features.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s been a good few weeks for quality new car releases. The new X-Trail is yet another: given the style of car and target demographic, a four-star rating is appropriate here.
Heavily improved over the model it replaces, it shifts the bar up just a little for the segment.
Is it as worthy as the CX-5? That’s moot, but it’s certainly a contender - the X-Trail is stronger in some respects, and bettered by the CX-5 in others.
It doesn’t feel as sporty as the CX-5, nor as dynamic; but it’s quieter, certainly as comfortable, and a little more versatile off-road.
With around 140,000 sold locally since 2001, the X-Trail has been a success story for Nissan Australia.
It can continue to expect big things for its capable new model.
This new X-Trail is one you’ll like and a very good car from Nissan. Before you buy something as big and thirsty as a Kluger, you really should have a look at what you can buy in ‘a size smaller’.
You’ll be surprised by the roomy space in the X-Trail, by the feel of quality, and by its long legs and on-road comfort.
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)