WORDS: Alex Rae – Practical Motoring
THERE ARE PLENTY of options when looking for an SUV but Nissan has one trump card it can play in the medium-size segment: the X-Trail is the world’s most popular SUV. Credentials like that must mean it does plenty right and, despite this model getting a little older compared to the competition, it also offers some of the best value for money.
THE GOOD: Spacious and practical, engine efficiency, diesel and seven-seat options.
THE BAD: Feels a little dated, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the petrol engine lacks vigour.
IN A NUTSHELL: The Nissan X-Trail is getting older but it also proves why it continues to hang around the top sellers in its segment, offering dependable motoring for families of any size.
How much does it cost and what do you get?
Available in petrol, diesel and five or seven-seat configurations, the X-Trail is a truly versatile and practical SUV.
There are five standard trim levels (ST, TS, ST-L, Ti and TL) priced from $28,890 to $48,340 plus on-road costs, and the limited-edition N-Trek based on the ST-L, priced from $38,700 plus on-roads in 2WD and $40,700 with AWD.
Standard comfort and convenience features on most models include seven-inch colour touchscreen, six-speaker sound system with DAB+, Bluetooth phone connectivity, sat-nav with traffic monitoring, six-way power-adjustable driver seat and four-way passenger seat, heated front seats, leather-accented seat trim, leather-accented steering wheel, heated and cooled centre console cupholders, keyless entry with push-button start, cruise control, automatic headlights, two front 12V power outlets and one in the cargo area, second-row air vents, speed-sensitive electric power steering, 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, privacy glass and heated door mirrors.
The N-Trek model adds new 19-inch alloy wheels, Bose eight-speaker sound system, smoke black colour bonnet protector, slimline front and rear weather shields, front and rear kick plates and carpet mats.
What’s the interior like?
Inside, the X-Trail feels big and roomy. Around the cabin are some nice quality finishes and trims, though some of the design is looking a touch dated compared to the newest rivals. The seats upfront offer good lumbar and support, with fleshy bolstering on the sides and a cushy pad underneath for long trips.
Adjustment of the front seat is easy and allow for a fairly flexible seating position considering the upright SUV position, which itself provides a good view through the glasshouse of the road. The reach and tilt adjustment on the steering is just as accommodating, too.
We found the climate control to work well for both heating and cooling (though we were rarely in anything under 20-degrees Celcius) with rear air vents, and the USB ports charged iPhones fairly fast.
How much room is there?
It’s a pretty capacious cabin for this class, and hence why the X-Trail is offered with seven-seats. The second-row is also 60:40 split-folding, with second-row seats able to be reclined or slid forwards and aft to either maximise rear-seat legroom or free up space for those in the third row. The centre backrest also doubles as a fold-down armrest.
Storage space is plentiful with large door pockets for larger bottles and a good-size centre console bin.
What’s the engine like?
The 2.5-litre petrol (naturally-aspirated) engine is reasonably modest, producing 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm at 4400rpm. Not much has changed in this engine and it’s a well-known unit but mated to a CVT (automatic) transmission it gets along well enough, keeping high in the revs when you need some power for hills and overtaking.
What’s it like to drive?
Riding on larger 18-inch alloys the X-Trail N-Trek doesn’t compromise much of its ride compliance which is solid but average for ride comfort, with a slightly hard response over bigger bumps in the road and sharp edges.
It does, however, hang on surprisingly well in corners and is fairly ‘good fun’ when pushing along a winding road. The body feels taught, with good grip, and the steering is confident and direct. It’s not a sporty SUV but it does have a nice feel in the way it drives, and most of all it feels safe and predictable.
While composure is quite solid, there is some tyre noise emitted to the cabin on coarse surfaces and gravel roads, but it isn’t loud enough to be annoying.
What are the Nissan X-Trail alternatives?
There are heaps, though spec and pricing vary significantly in a market full of older and newer competitors. Check out the new Toyota Rav4, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Holden Equinox and Honda CR-V for starters.
How safe is the Nissan X-Trail?
The X-Trail was awarded a five-star ANCAP score in June 2017. Safety features include ABS, hill start assist, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent around-view monitor with moving object detection, forward collision warning, outer ISOFIX and three top-tether child-seat mounting points. Intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist are also available.
2020 Nissan X-Trail price and spec
Price From $28,890+ORC Warranty Five-years, unlimited km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 126kW at 6000rpm Torque 226Nm at 4400rpm Transmission CVT Drive front-wheel drive only Dimensions 4640mm (L): 1820mm (W); 1710mm (H): 2705mm (WB) Turning Circle 11.3m Boot Space 565L (135L with three rows used); 825L seats down (seven seater) Spare space saver (temporary) Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.1L/100km