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2014 Nissan X-Trail TS Review: 1.6 Diesel 2WD CVT Auto Photo:
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What's Hot
Comfy ride, comfy interior and frugal fuel use.
What's Not
Noisy diesel feels a bit old fashioned.
X-Factor
Growing families looking to cover long highway miles will find plenty to like.
Kez Casey | Nov, 23 2014 | 6 Comments

Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $35,380 (plus on-roads)

Engine/trans: 96kW/320Nm 1.6 turbo diesel 4cyl | CVT auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.3 l/100km | tested: 6.1 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

It's been a six-month wait between the launch of Nissan’s new X-Trail, and the arrival of the diesel models to complete the range.

Something that Nissan Australia - and plenty of buyers looking for the fuel consumption and driveability benefits of the diesel - have been champing at the bit for.

There are still some gaps in the spec sheet: all-wheel-drive is only available with a manual transmission, while the CVT models are limited to front-wheel-drive.

But overall, the diesel option in the X-Trail range has plenty of appeal.

As with the rest of the range, equipment levels are strong, while pricing kicks off around $3400 below the previous generation TS automatic (although that model came with AWD).

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Five 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 seats up or 1520 litres with rear row folded, plus multi-function boot floor

The interior of the X-Trail TS might not be loaded with glamour - there a dark finishes aplenty and a minimum of brightwork - but, importantly, the family-friendly basics are covered.

With roomy and comfortable seats in all five spots, few will feel shortchanged no matter where they have to sit.

The second row can be slid back and forward to free up legroom or passenger space as required. In its rearmost position, there’s acres of space.

Move to the boot and the ‘divide and hide’ floor offers versatile storage, and can be adapted to a dual-level floor, a pair of upright dividers, lidded storage or various combinations of the three modes.

Clever use of the space that would otherwise be occupied by the third-row seats on selected petrol models. There are no seven-seat diesel models yet on offer.

Ergonomically the X-Trail feels pretty good behind the wheel.

All-round vision is good for this class of vehicle; the deep glasshouse and the included reverse camera helps improve rearward safety. The relatively thick A-pillars are the only debit from the wheel.

While testing, a moderate heat-wave showed that special mention must go the effective air-conditioning.

Not only can it cool a hot cabin in short order, but it also features rear vents - a feature missing from too many ‘family’ SUVs.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 96kW/320Nm turbo diesel 1.6 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

Astute trainspotters, with abacus in hand, will notice that this generation of X-Trail with the same 1.6 litre engine as the smaller Qashqai, drops a few kilowatts compared to the 2.0 litre engine of the generation before it.

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Torque remains unchanged at 320Nm but is available at a slightly earlier 1750rpm.

Power now measures 96kW from 4000rpm (a loss of 14kW over the previous model)

We tested the CVT automatic, available solely as a two-wheel-drive model.

Off-road aspirations are nixed in this model, however, as a city-to-country tourer, this drivetrain makes sense.

Compared to some modern diesels, the X-Trail’s idle is a little more noisy and vibey than the class norm. Step onto the throttle though and the engine quickly calms down.

Compared to petrol variants the diesel feels markedly stronger, and is less worried by a full load.

The majority of our travel was done with three adults on board, plus light luggage and at no point did the X-Trail ever give the feeling of ‘working hard’.

Teaming a torque-rich diesel engine with a CVT transmission is still a somewhat unusual combination, but the rev-matching nature of a CVT means that peak torque is nearly always on tap.

For those inclined there’s a stepped 'sport mode' and a six-speed 'manual' shift, but neither is worth using. This transmission works just fine left in drive, and there’s little to be gained by revving the engine out - except for more noise.

Ride comfort is an X-Trail forte - with expansion joints, speed humps and rough country roads dispatched with absolute ease and comfort. Steering is on the light side, again tuned towards tackling the urban sprawl.

Although it is no hot hatch, even the cornering composure is quite reasonable. Nothing physics-defying going on here, but still very respectable.

Diesel X-Trail models also gain an engine start-stop system over petrol models.

There’s still a small delay, and rumble on kick-off, but the system helps keep consumption down and the 6.1l/100km that we recorded on test is good for the size and ability of the vehicle.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 35.28 out of 37 possible points.

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 seat belt and adjustable head restraint with ISOFIX fitting points in the second row.

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

Entry-level medium SUVs aren’t exactly commonplace, but, for similar money you can get into a RAV4 or Tiguan diesel, both with auto and AWD. Moving up a touch will put you into a CX-5 or Outlander.

All of those rivals offer a bigger engines and varying degrees more power and torque (except the Tiguan with the same 320Nm), but none offer the same level of cargo versatility of the X-Trail.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

For some buyers, there’s simply no substitute for the pulling power of a diesel engine, and, despite a smaller capacity engine, the X-Trail hasn’t lost anything in terms of driveability with this new generation.

Passenger comfort and interior versatility cement the X-Trail’s suitability for growing families, but we worry that the lack of an AWD and automatic combo, and no seven-seat diesel option, might deter some buyers.

That said, with a frugal diesel engine in situ, the X-Trail will happily munch miles in comfort.

If that’s how you plan on spending your time with it, then the X-Trail TS should appear on your shortlist.

MORE: X-Trail News & Reviews
MORE:
Nissan | SUVs | Family Cars

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • TS 2WD CVT - $35,380
  • TS 4WD manual - $35,680
  • TL 2WD CVT - $46,280
  • TL 4WD manual - $46,580
  • (Premium paint - $495)
 
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