Nissan’s updated X-Trail has arrived to help the Japanese brand’s medium SUV face-off against newer segment offerings like the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
There’s been no heavy-handed approach to updating the X-Trail though, with subtle styling tweaks and small equipment and safety changes all that has been applied to the spec sheet, while diesel buyers also benefit from a new, larger, more powerful engine.
In one of Australia’s most competitive market segments a wrong-step could be disastrous, but with the X-Trail already a top-five seller amongst medium SUVs, Nissan’s cautious approach is understandable.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $44,290 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.3 l/100km
Flexibility is key when it comes to the range of 2017 Nissan X-Trail variants available, which is why the X-Trail comes in a choice of three petrol and two diesel variants, with two-wheel drive standard on lower grades, all-wheel drive standard for the diesels and flagship Ti grade, and options for either all-wheel drive or seven seats (but not the two together) on cheaper models.
That can be slightly confusing but the car tested here, the top-of-the-range Ti, simplifies things slightly as it comes only in a single flavour that includes five seats, all-wheel drive and a petrol engine with an automatic transmission. Diesel buyers can also pick a similar specification with the X-Trail TL if desired.
Thanks to standard all-wheel drive, seven seats can’t be fitted, but in place of a third row Nissan fits its Divide-n-Hide flexible cargo system, plus plenty of equipment to make the X-Trail the equal of other top-range SUVs in its class.
At $44,290 plus on-road costs the Ti isn’t priced as enticingly as the base-model’s showroom-lure $27,900 starting price, but still represents strong value against competitors that can start pushing hard against the $50k mark.
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear outboard seats, heated leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry and start, motion activated powered tailgate, automatic lights and wipers, Adaptive LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, CD player, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB input, eight-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 565 litres to rear seats, 945 litres to front seats
Without going too far over the top, the Nissan X-Trail Ti looks premium enough without falling back on gimmicks to establish its position as the range topper.
Leather seating is included, black is standard but the tan trim shown here is an option and it looks pretty smart although it may be better suited to buyers with less spill-prone kids to keep it looking the best.
Dual-zone climate control with rear face-level air vents are welcomed, as is the panoramic sunroof which adds an extra dimension to games of eye-spy. Other standard Ti touches include a motion activated tailgate, adaptive LED headlights, heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, Bose audio and 19-inch alloy wheels.
A 7.0-inch touchscreen is standard with DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth and satellite navigation included, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, instead opting for an app-link system for certain smartphone apps.
Interior space feels big for the medium SUV class as there’s plenty of room up front, and the rear bench, which can be slid forward or backwards, is very roomy in its rearmost setting with a reclining backrest that ensures no-one goes without the ability to get comfy on a long drive.
Because the X-Trail is designed to be a seven-seater, room in the boot of five-seat variants benefits with up to 565 litres available with the rear seats in place. Nissan has also gone one step further than most other manufacturers with its Divide-n-Hide system that allows the dual-level boot floor to act as a divider to set rear storage up exactly as required depending on your cargo.
Nissan also tucks in neat touches like heated and cooled cupholders linked to the climate control, and enough interior storage to hold most day-to-day items in the glovebox and console, but misses out on hideaway storage in the centre stack.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder, 126kW @6000rpm, 226Nm @4400rpm
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic transmission, multi-mode all wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
- Steering: Speed sensitive electric power steering
- Towing Capacity: 1500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
The X-Trail’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine carries over from before, with 126kW and 226Nm, and is linked to a multi-mode all-wheel drive system via a continuously variable automatic transmission.
For general commuting duty, the engine balances performance and economy well, and usually doesn’t upset occupant. But bursts of acceleration when overtaking or maintaining uphill momentum will reveal a coarser side to the engine, which is neither quite nor smooth when worked hard.
Thankfully Nissan has successfully worked out how to set up a CVT transmission. Where some competitors struggle to get the right balance of low revs and responsiveness the Nissan X-Tronic CVT feels (and sounds) a lot like a normal auto.
On city streets and with lower speed limits the X-Trail feels nice and comfortable for riding out potholes and speed humps, but out of town the large 19-inch alloy wheels can take the comfortable edge off the ride, jarring over sharp surface changes.
Nissan’s all-wheel drive system allows driver’s to choose from three modes: Normal is simply front-wheel drive, where Auto varies torque to the rear axle on demand and Lock sets the front-to-rear torque split at 50:50.
The system is capable in low-grip conditions. Auto mode will pre-emptively send drive to the rear when moving off, or to balance cornering but in real slippery going Lock mode works best. With 210mm of ground clearance the X-Trail will cover uneven terrain but isn’t ideally suited to thorough off-road adventures.
The X-Trail also fails to match the overall sharp handling of segment leaders like the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson, though it’s not too far off the mark. At freeway speeds the X-Trail also lacks refinement with wind and tyre noise making it less suited to regular long-haul trips.
Ultimately it feels more at home on city streets than rural back roads, but is still competent and capable enough to deal with changing conditions as they arise.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - the Nissan X-Trail scored 35.28 out of 37 possible points based on crash test data obtained by Euro NCAP in 2017.
Safety Features: Six airbags (dual front, front seat side, full-length curtain), vehicle stability and traction control, ABS brakes, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control and surround-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: Service intervals for the X-Trail fall every 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first) with MyNissan Service Certainty capped-price servicing covering the first 12 services with prices ranging between $232 and $502 depending on the interval. Your Nissan dealer can provide more information on the program.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Australia’s favourite SUV, Mazda's CX-5, took a big step forward in terms of refinement and technology earlier this year with the introduction of a new model with bold new styling. Space isn’t as plentiful as the X-Trail, particularly in the boot, but dynamics are top-notch.
Jeep's Cherokee varies from many of its competitors by offering V6 power and a nine-speed automatic, the upscale Limited is certainly plush, but adventurers might prefer the ‘Trail Rated’ Trailhawk. Jeep has upped its warranty protection in response to reliability qualms with five years/unlimited kilometre protection
Ford re-introduced the Escape name as a mid-life update for its previous Kuga SUV, with plenty of on-board tech in the top-line Titanium and plenty of power thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, but interior space and innovation isn’t an Escape strong suit.
The Hyundai Tucson combines modern technology, Australian-tuned handling, and sharp looks and Aussie buyers find the combination highly agreeable, trailing CX-5 sales by just a handful of units. Pricing isn’t as cheap and cheerful as past Hyundais, but instead value is strong with excellent standard features for the price.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Nissan has kept the X-Trail competitive where it matters, packing in more essential safety features and updating styling, without touching the things that were already just right, like cabin comfort and boot space.
As a flexible family wagon the X-Trail impresses with a boot for all occasions, though buyers with their heart set on seven seats will either need to look further down the X-Trail range or make the leap to the new Honda CR-V or Skoda Kodiaq.
Equipment levels are strong for the price, with features other makers ignore (like heated rear seats) and enough passenger space to last through your tribe’s transition from ankle-biters to lanky teens.
Though it may not be the ultimate off roader, the X-Trail gets the urban family thing right with enough ability up its sleeve for the occasional camping trip or beach holiday, and in Ti specification looks and feels upmarket enough to impress over the long haul.
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VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Nissan X-Trail - Prices, Features, and Specifications