Nissan X-Trail Review
Nissan have made it their mission to create the ultimate family adventure vehicle. Have they succeeded?
- Very capable off road
- Loads of interior space
- 7 usable seats
- Not particularly fast
- Very little boot space when 7 seats are up
- 1.6 Diesel requires a little bit too much throttling
Nissan shifted a staggering 766,000 X-trails last year, making it the best selling SUV in the world. How about that for an opener? The Qashqai is the Nissan that seems to take all the headlines on our shores, but across the globe, the X-Trail is one of the most popular cars out there. Don’t think of this new X-Trail as just a Qashqai+2 with a different badge, because although they share the same platform the X-Trail sits higher, wider and longer and has a lot more grit about it than it’s younger sibling.
Nissan are positioning this X-Trail as the ultimate family adventure vehicle, and its a title I think it deserves. Few cars promise this level of comfort, practicality, economy and value for money - so let’s see what’s what...
On the Road
Our test route consisted of a motorway jaunt, some idyllic b-roads and then an off-road section. On the motorway the X-Trail really makes itself known to other road users, who are quick to scoot over as the X-Trail’s imposing grille expands in their rear view mirror. Both the 1.6-litre diesel and 2.0-litre diesel have enough power to make overtaking easy enough, but it does seem that the 1.6 requires a bit too much throttling to get it going. Throughout ownership, I’d sooner have the 2.0-litre.
Neither engines are what you’d describe as fast, but they both have enough torque to make light work of day to day jobs. Making steady progress through the B-roads is more suiting to the 1.6 diesel unit, as it almost feels the 2.0 is over compensating. The best engine for you very much depends on whether or not you spend a fair bit of time on the motorway.
The X-Trail is a pretty well-executed off roader. It’s certainly capable of ironing out all the potholes and speed bumps you can throw at it on the tarmac, and the ride remains quiet on loose road surfaces. There is a lot of travel in the suspension to allow the X-trail to take the sting out of a light off road course, but the suspension does a good job of keeping the car flat and predictable in the bends. On the roads you’ll have no complaints at all with just how blissful the X-Trial can be.
The handling is a similarly pleasant story. The car is easy to weave through tight roads and it feels much smaller than it actually is. You don’t get much in the way of feedback through the steering wheel, as the surface vibrations have been well dampened long before the steering column, but it’s still nice and easy to attack corners with reasonable pace. While the steering feedback is soft, the X-Trail manages to be very predictable and easy to drive. Potential buyers who are sceptical about buying and driving such a big car needn’t be concerned.
The improvements on this new X-Trail are largely aesthetic. The headlights and taillights have been redesigned and they look more aggressive now, as does the ‘V-motion’ grille and the new fog lights. We drove the X-Trail back to back with the Qashqai, and the X-Trail certainly holds the road better, has less tyre roar and feels more confident at motorway speeds. Neither car had mysterious interior rattles and the quality of fabrics and plastics is higher than you would expect. They’ve done a good job with the fit and finish of this new X-Trail.
One thing worth noting is that both the diesel engines do seem to have a pretty unpleasant rattle when they’re revved - not the end of the world but it’s worth noting.
In the car
A massive 40% of X-Trails are specced with 7 seats, which tells you that buyers are keen for practicality and usability. Similarly, 47% of buyers spec their X-Trails in Tekna or above, so buyers are clearly keen to get a good level of kit. Now this new X-Trail isn’t an overhaul from the ground up, it’s much like the old version, only better where the older one needed improving. So you’ve got a better steering wheel, better seats, better interior and there’s a better infotainment system. Your new central command unit is a 7-inch touch screen that controls all the usual things, sat-nav, reverse cameras, DAB etc.
The quality of the touch screen is much improved over the systems Nissan have used in the past. About 90% of taps are registered the first time, and there are physical buttons for the necessary functions that don’t necessitate menus and sub menus. is sparse, but passengers will have no qualms whatsoever with the seats elsewhere in the X-Trail. Loads of space, big comfy leather seats and plenty of shoulder room.
The back row of seats is ideal for children. Anyone around 5”10 or taller is going to get uncomfortable back there as leg and headroom is sparse, but passengers will have no qualms whatsoever with the seats elsewhere in the X-Trail. Loads of space, big comfy leather seats and plenty of shoulder room.
As you would expect, the X-Trail has the practicality benefits of a light goods vehicle. Fold the seven seats flat and you’ve got a huge 1,996 litres of loading capacity. There 565 litres with the second row of seats in place, but (as for pretty much every 7 seater) boot space disappears almost entirely with the 3rd row of seats in place, which isn’t ideal but it’s par for the course.
Remember the days when cars like this were called ‘gas guzzlers’? Thankfully, the days of sub 10mpg are as good as gone, bar the odd exception. The 1.6 litre diesel is the most economical engine in the new X-trail, returning a quoted 57.6mpg on the combined cycle, and the 1.6 petrol is the least economical, returning 45.6mpg. All the other units position themselves between the two. The X-Trail can now position itself as a somewhat affordable 4x4. Even the most expensive model, the 4-wheel-drive Tekna with the higher powered diesel, sits at £38,565. This means every X-Trail will slide under the £40,000 VED supplement threshold.
Insurance isn’t too bad with the X-Trail, due to the high levels of safety kit and modest power outputs, most models fall into groups 19 and 20. For a vehicle of this size and stature, that’s rather affordable...
This obviously isn’t a brand new X-Trail from the ground up, it’s more of a second go at the first X-Trail, with tangible improvements to the quality bringing it up to speed with modern competitors. Happily, it’s important to say that the quality inside the X-trail is now really rather good. The new steering wheel is far more cushioned, ergonomic and pleasing than the old one. There’s extra padding around the cockpit and the material selection just feels that little bit more luxurious than you would anticipate.
Nissan are highly praised for the reliability of their vehicles, although there were some issues with the electrics in the old X-Trail. Mechanically, it’s fair to say the X-Trail is a safe bet, and we can only hope that they’ve addressed the pesky electrics in this new model.
Driver assisted systems such as anti lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control are all fitted as standard, as well as 6 airbags. The old XTrail got a 5 star safety rating on the Euro NCAP safety tests, and we this model will maintain that same rating. Other safety equipment includes options such as Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Park Assist, intelligent Around View Monitor and Lane Departure Warning.
In 2018 the XTrail will be given the ProPILOT system, which is Nissan’s first step toward autonomous driving. ProPILOT will control the steering, acceleration and braking of the car within a single lane on a highway. The system basically ties together 3 technologies that Nissan already use, namely the Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Pilot. If this technology sounds appealing then it might be worth holding out on ordering your new X-Trail for just now, as the technology can’t be retrofitted to cars once it’s released.