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Nissan X-Trail video review

Japanese brand makes its smarter-looking compact SUV more family friendly.

PT3M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-368dw 620 349

Our rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pros

  • Clever, flexible interior
  • Loaded with gear
  • CVT auto makes for better performance

Cons

  • Engine only average
  • Dynamics not as sharp as some

Nissan’s X-Trail is something of a stalwart in the Australian SUV market, having first arrived here in 2001. It was immediately successful thanks to its combination of a spacious body, pleasing design and solid value.

That equation hasn’t altered much over more than a decade on the market, although more recently the X-Trail has come under pressure from a barrage of often fresher rivals.

Now Nissan is fighting back; enter the third generation X-Trail, which brings the most radical styling change yet for the familiar SUV face. Up front new Nissan corporate grille glints in plenty of faux chrome, while the rear has taken on a more rounded, modern look.

New Nissan X-Trail. Click for more photos

New Nissan X-Trail

New Nissan X-Trail.

  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.
  • New Nissan X-Trail.

For now there’s only petrol engines on offer, although a diesel is due by the end of 2014.

What do you get?

The X-Trail range starts at $27,990 (plus on-road and dealer costs) for a two-wheel-drive with a manual gearbox (it’s the sole manual in the lineup). It’s powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and comes with cruise control, reversing camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and smart key entry (on the front doors only) and start.

The jump to an automatic adds $2500 but brings a larger 2.5-litre engine and for another $1090 you can add a third row of seats, which compromises some luggage space but brings two additional seats to take capacity to seven.

Another $5700 jump steps you in to the ST-L, which brings satellite-navigation, dual zone automatic air-conditioning, heated and electric front seats, partial leather seats, digital radio and a larger colour screen incorporating a more detailed reversing camera view that gives an overhead picture.

At the top of the X-Trail range is the Ti, which gets 18-inch wheels, automatic tailgate, sunroof and auto wipers. There are also some electronic driver aids, such as lane departure warning, blind spot warning and moving object detection, with the latter designed to detect animals and cars behind the car when reversing.

All three grades are available with a four-wheel-drive system, which brings an automatic transmission. However, as with the flagship Ti model, the four-wheel-drive X-Trails ($33,980 for the ST, $39,080 for the ST-L and $44,680 for the Ti) are not available with the seven-seat option.

And despite the off-road focus the X-Trail has succumbed to pricing and space pressures and fitted a skinny spare tyre.

What's inside?

The dash has a pleasant, functional layout with over stylised air vents and an infotainment touch screen in tandem with traditional controls for the ventilation. The white-lit instruments are split by a colour trip computer with detailed information on fuel use and some four-wheel-drive functions. There are huge sunvisors for even the shortest of drivers.

Storage is also good, with covered binnacles and power outlets aplenty.

In the rear you sit higher, which is good for kids but will have taller adults grazing their heads, something not helped with the marginally lower roof thanks to the sunroof. Leg room is good, though, and can be adjusted thanks to the sliding mechanism.

But there are air vents and the same attention to detail as up front, from the chrome door handles and faux carbon fibre flashes to the chunky fold down arm rest that otherwise does nothing for middle seat comfort.

The boot is also clever with two usefully sized and easily accessed underfloor storage areas on top of the flat, broad load space. One of the shelves can even be raised for a larger false floor, something handy for separating delicate shopping from heavy items.

Combined with a trio of individually folding rear seats it makes the X-Trail among the more functional in its class.

Under the bonnet

The 2.5-litre unit is a familiar unit but one that delivers decent propulsion for the X-Trail. There’s a modest 126kW of power and 226Nm of torque, but it’s the CVT that helps most with performance.

Light and gentle throttle applications are rewarded with respectable acceleration characterised by seamless progress thanks to the CVT. Without a fixed number of ratios it does a great job of matching engine speed to what you’re trying to achieve.

Drive is typically to the front wheels, which can elicit a chirp of wheelspin when starting up a steep hill, for example. But the X-Mode four-wheel-drive system has a useful Auto mode that instantly apportions some drive to the rear to maintain traction. It’s a clever enough system that also has a lock function for driving in snow or mud.

Fuel use isn’t as low as some, rated at 8.3 litres per 100km, but in everyday driving it’ll use more like 12L/100km when driven predominantly around the suburbs.

On the road

Light steering and a pleasant demeanour make the X-Trail a friendly companion in the suburbs. It’s also relatively quiet and refined, with some mild tyre noise entering the equation at freeway speeds.

The ride is also relatively supple, dealing with everyday imperfections in a predictable way.

Push on and the X-Trail ultimately shows its limitations, with less of the alacrity that can characterise some rivals. Grip from the 18-inch tyres is reasonable, but if you’re too eager in a tight corner it can lean on its nose and push them to their maximum.

Verdict

A clever interior, solid value and respectable driving manners cement the X-Trail as one of the better family SUVs on the market. The availability of seven seats is a plus, while the flexible and spacious interior layout make it among the most useful in the mid-sized SUV class.

Nissan X-Trail Ti AWD pricing and specifications

Price: $44,680, plus on-road and dealer costs

Country of origin: Japan

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol

Power: 126kW at 6000rpm

Torque: 226Nm at 4400rpm

CO2 emissions: 192g/km

Fuel use: 8.3L/100km

Transmission: CVT auto, four-wheel-drive

Weight: 1574kg

Safety: 6 airbags; stability control