- Spacious and upmarket interior
- Efficient new engines
- Available with five or seven seats
- Some hard plastic on the doors
- Rear legroom restricted if front seats pushed back
- So much competition
Nissan’s striking X-Trail model has been around for almost two decades and today it’s still an exceptionally popular car globally. It had a mild makeover a couple of years back, but most recently Nissan introduced an all-new powertrain upgrade to the line-up.
There is one petrol and one diesel engine to choose from - both of which offer improved economy and efficiency compared to the units they replace. In addition, there are six-speed manual, CVT auto or seven-speed DCT gearboxes on offer.
Customers can also select from trim levels called Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta and Tekna with the option of all-wheel drive too.
On The Road
The latest Nissan X-Trail is available with a new 1.3-litre DIG-T 160PS petrol engine in 2WD and with a Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Diesel fans have a 1.7-litre dCi 150PS unit that is available in 2WD or 4WD mated to a six-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox.
We opted for the new petrol-powered X-Trail in range-topping Tekna trim level with five seats. This car with the 1,332cc engine, 160PS of power and 270Nm of torque could reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.5 seconds and topped out at 123mph.
The seven-speed gearbox is new to the X-Trail and it’s a very welcome addition offering smooth gear changes and plenty of rapid-fire acceleration. There are no paddles or different drive modes (apart from Eco) to take control of the reaction times, but the latest model handles really nicely.
It’s similar to the dynamics offered by the slightly smaller Qashqai, so no complaints there then. It corners well with ample grip and any body sway is kept to a minimum. It’s a car that covers all bases well, proving happy cruising at motorway speeds, but just as content on the daily school run weaving through the traffic jams with ease thanks to the light steering and great agility.
Although we tested a 2WD model on this occasion, the 4WD X-Trail is quite capable away from the Tarmac and ideal for towing a caravan across boggy ground on a family holiday.
Despite its size - the X-Trail measures nearly 4.7 metres in length and is 1.83 metres wide - this mid-sized family SUV handles pretty well when faced with the open road.
Admittedly, it’s not the fastest vehicle out of the blocks, but it’s nicely composed and balanced through the country lanes and B roads. It’s not often a car fitted with larger wheels performs that well, but even when riding on 19-inch alloy wheels the X-Trail displayed very little sign of body sway, unless bends were attacked too enthusiastically in which case it jumped and fidgeted quite a bit.
The suspension set-up is relatively soft, allowing it to soak up most dips and bumps along the way. And the car features some dynamic drive technologies to make day-to-day trips more enjoyable. The Intelligent Trace Control applies small amounts of braking on individual wheels for confident handling around corners. The Intelligent Ride Control applies subtle braking to prevent too much jarring over bumps. And the Intelligent Engine Brake comes into force when driving through a light bend or stopping. This system smoothly adds small amounts of engine braking to assist the brakes.
The Intelligent Park Assist is another great feature when faced with a tight space. Simply line up the car and it will take care of all the steering for you.
The latest Nissan X-Trail has a truly premium feel to it, both inside and out. It looks far more dynamic than the model it replaced with sweeping curves and eye-catching design cues such as a black honeycomb front grille, chrome window surrounds, satin roof rails, rear privacy glass and 19-inch machine cut alloy wheels.
The V-Motion front grille links to the boomerang-shaped front headlights giving the vehicle an athletic appearance and standards are just as impressive within the car.
Comfort levels are high with neat leather upholstery throughout, along with front and rear seats that can be heated, plus a heated steering wheel to fend off the chill in the winter months.
The car is well insulated so occupants are protected from any engine or road surface noise. In fact, Nissan has introduced aerodynamic panels around the pillars which together with a low aerodynamic underbody make for a quieter ride as well as minimising fuel consumption.
There is a little wind sound when travelling on motorways which is quite normal for high-sided and upright SUV models.
The car’s highly effective suspension system also deserves a mention as it does a very worthy job of smoothing out bumps and dips along the way.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With powered front seats and a fully adjustable steering wheel, getting the perfect driving position behind the wheel of the X-Trail takes just a matter of seconds. The driver is treated to excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position and all controls, dials and instrumentation is easy to operate on the fly in this very driver-focused cockpit.
And there’s oodles of on-board technology to get to grips with too, especially on the range-topping Tekna X-Trail. It boasts an upgraded eight-speaker Bose sound system, Nissan Connect touchscreen navigation and entertainment system, DAB radio, a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity.
On the downside, there is no smartphone link via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
I particularly liked the separate panel for any climate control functions, so you can adjust the temperature simply without having to access and navigate a distracting touchscreen menu.
The cabin is bright and upmarket with light flooding into the car via the sunroof, although this fixture does eat into the passenger head space within the vehicle.
The D-shaped steering wheel is leather clad and is nicely responsive with plenty of driver feedback - it’s also simple to set and adjust the cruise control on the move without taking your hands from the wheel.
Space & Practicality
There’s no denying the practicality of the Nissan X-Trail with the option of seven seats on some models. It’s a vehicle designed for the active family and lives up to all the hype.
The boot capacity of 565 litres can be increased to an impressive 1,196 litres with the rear seats dropped flat and the boot has a double floor which is great for tucking bits and pieces away from sight. And the tailgate is power-operated which is ideal when approaching the car with shopping bags for hands-free opening.
Another feature on our car was the panoramic sunroof which, despite letting light flood into the cabin, does impact slightly upon the head space available so taller passengers may find their curls touching the headlining. Leg and shoulder room in the back is impressive though and three adults could sit across quite comfortably if necessary. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats also recline slightly for improved comfort.
In addition, there are front cup holders, rear cup holders in the drop-down central armrest, a glovebox, sunglasses compartment, a coin holder, trays, door pockets with space for a large bottle, plus a large central cubby box.
The rear doors open nice and wide so access to the likes of child seats is easy enough and the high seating makes this car ideal for anyone with mobility issues.
The X-Trail is available with seven seats as an option. These seats fold flat into the boot floor and are fine for children but not really suitable for adults.
If the car is to be used for towing, then the diesel version is superior with a two tonnes limit compared to the 1.5 tonnes of the petrol-driven vehicle.
The Nissan X-Trail line-up starts from £25,795 for the entry-level Visia model and rises to £31,190 for the Tekna version.
Our test car, in range-topping Tekna grade, also included some Palatial Ruby pearlescent paint that added £745 to the final cost.
When it comes to running costs, the X-Trail powered by the petrol engine can deliver combined fuel economy of 33.6-34.9mpg with carbon emissions of 149g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Charge of £210 which would drop down to the basic £145 after 12 months.
Anyone requiring improved fuel efficiency may want to consider the diesel-powered X-Trail with some models seeing up to 43.5mpg.
The insurance group rating for the test car was 19.
Quality & Reliability
Nissan enjoys a ‘so-so’ reputation when it comes to reliability and customer satisfaction, but it is a car maker that still appeals to the masses.
Our high-end Tekna model certainly looked and felt like it could withstand a robust and active lifestyle with lots of solid and practical wipe-clean surfaces. That said though; the hard plastic trim does rather lower the standard of an otherwise highly specced cabin and it could also be very prone to scratching.
All the switchgear feels solid in its construction and the leather upholstery is also of a high standard.
The car comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. But customers are able to extend the cover via the Nissan Care warranty. This covers all original vehicle components and is designed specifically for cars up to three years old. Priced from £210 there are four plans. They are: 12 months up to 60,000 miles; 12 months up to 80,000 miles; 24 months up to 100,000 miles and 36 months up to 120,000 miles. Pan-European Nissan assistance is included in these plans.
For owners of older models there is the option of the Nissan Care Extended Warranty. The Ultimate package covers vehicles aged from three to seven years that have notched up no more than 75,000 miles, while the Premium policy covers Nissan vehicles aged seven to 10 year
Safety & Security
The latest generation Nissan X-Trail was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating when tested by Euro NCAP and even entry-level vehicles are loaded with safety kit.
Our test car was packed with safety features and driver assistance aids to help protect occupants, pedestrians, cyclists and also try to prevent accidents happening in the first place.
Safety systems included anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, chassis control, moving object detection, six airbags and Isofix child seat fixtures.
A Smart Vision Pack was included as standard that introduced traffic signal recognition, lane departure warning, intelligent forward emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, plus front and rear parking sensors.
And Nissan’s highly-acclaimed Safety Shield Technologies included blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The high beam assist system worked well during night-time driving by illuminating the road ahead and then automatically dipping the lights when oncoming vehicles appeared so as to prevent dazzling other drivers.
The Nissan Qashqai is fitted with an engine immobiliser and Thatcham alarm system to keep any uninvited attention at bay.