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Nissan X-Trail SUV review

Hi everyone, for this week's in depth used car review we will be taking a look at the X Trail, which is Nissan's version of a seven seater SUV. If you are not much of a reader, you can skip to the bottom for the You Tube video.

Back in 2013 Nissan discontinued the Qashqai +2, and replaced it with a newer seven seater version of the X-Trail. We used to regularly get asked for the +2, but in the newer shape which doesn’t exist, and this is the reason why.

The X-Trail range received a facelift in August 2017, going for a more modern look. It's not a dramatic restyle, and if you were a fan of the pre-facelift model, chances are you won't be offended by the update, if you notice the changes at all.

It's pretty easy to mistake a post 2017 Nissan X-Trail for a Nissan Qashqail, from the front. From the rear though it's not so easy to make this mistake, as the rounded back end of the X-Trail is hugely different from the Qashqai.

Nissan has definitely followed the modern trend of softer, more family-friendly motoring, designed for on road driving, unlike the first- and second-generation X-Trail's.

Owners of the pre face-lift X-Trail won’t recognise the latest one from the inside, but Qashqai owners will feel right at home. Its layout is identical to the Qashqai's, showcasing soft-touch materials with great fit and finish. However, the Skoda Kodiaq, Mazda CX-5 and a number of other newer rivals offer more modern designs and a greater feeling of interior quality. The cabin of the X-Trail feels very practical and comfortable, it is fit for purpose, although it’s not the most exciting place to spend time in.
The dash is clearly laid out with a large speedo, and rev counter in the centre. Between them sits a small screen, which can display a number of readings including safety system information and the details about your trip economy, or vehicle performance. It’s exactly the same as you’ll find in its brother the Qashqai.

The controls are nicely laid out, but Honda's CR-V does feel more comfortable to drive, with a well positioned gear stick. While the interior quality of a Kia Sorento is superior to the Nissan's.

The facelifted steering wheel makes it easier to see the dials and includes a heating element to keep your hands warm in the winter, the rear seating bench can be heated as a single item on some models too.

When it comes to the cabin tech, we do feel that the X-Trail is behind the rest of the competition. You do get some OK core features with the Nissan Connect Evo system, but we found it to be lacking some smartphone features that its rivals haven't missed out on. While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t supported, Bluetooth for phone calls and audio streaming, as well as DAB, is included with Nissan Connect Evo. However, the menu system that comes in the badly positioned seven inch screen is clunky and the graphics lack clarity compared with the clearer, larger screens fitted in rivals, such as the Skoda Kodiaq and the Peugeot 5008.

As standard, the X-Trail is a big five seat family SUV, some will have been upgraded to a seven seater, which has two extra seats that fold out of the boot floor. The rows of seating are arranged in an ascending system, where every row sits a little higher than the one in front, so the extra back seats don't feel quite as claustrophobic as they could. The upgraded third row is a pair of flat folding seats, which are only big enough for children, even though all the rows slide forwards and backwards by 26cm. As well as sliding, the seats also recline, so you can arrange the seat configuration to suit your requirements.

Internally the X-Trail impresses with huge space. There’s loads of room in the cabin, and the doors open incredibly wide, making it super easy to get in and out. This new redesigned X-Trail is definitely bigger than the previous versions. There are enough cup holders for all, a good sized glove box, and a useful compartment between the seats to store your possessions. Just remember that you don’t get much boot space at all when making full use of the 7 seats. With all seven seats in use the X-Trail offers 445 litres of space, while in five-seat form there's 565 litres. Both the middle and third rows also fold flat, offering a huge 1,996-litres of space.

The Nissan has some very cool practical touches, like a boot floor that moves up and down to create separated loading areas. Nissan actually claims the versatile X-Trail has 18 different configurations here. This means you can vary the amount of space to keep objects from bouncing around the boot area. The electric tailgate works out to take a whole 7 seconds to operate. While we do find the speed of modern tailgates infuriating, slower is often safer. X-Trail models built after August 2017 added a waggle-foot-to-open function on, useful when you're loaded with children, shopping bags or both.

The X-Trail is one of the larger vehicles in the medium sized SUV class. I won't bore you with the exact figures, but against the Ford Kuga and Hyundai Santa Fe, it's slightly longer, and it’s also slightly taller. There are just three engines to choose from a 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre dCi diesel engine, and one 1.6-litre DIG-T petrol motor. The diesels come in both two or four wheel drive, while the petrol is only available as a two wheel drive. The two wheel drive models are the ones found most often on our roads.

If economy is your priority then the two-wheel drive 1.6-litre dCi is the one to go for, with a claimed 57.6mpg and 129gkm of CO2, while producing 130hp. Four-wheel drive models are slightly quicker, but it’s the more powerful 2.0-litre dCi that provides the strongest performance of them all, with 177hp. The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol DIG-T is an option for those that are looking for a petrol engine, it performs similar to the higher-powered diesel's, although fuel economy will not be anywhere as impressive.

CO2 emissions start at 155g
km for the entry-level diesel, but soon climb to a high of 205gkm if you opt for the all-wheel drive auto version.The X-Trail does have different towing capacities, depending on which engine and transmission combination you choose, starting from 1,500kg, and rising all the way up to 2,000kg. Anyone looking for the maximum pulling power is best to settle for a manual diesel.

In becoming more of a road vehicle with less of a focus on off road ability than its predecessors, the Nissan's comfort levels have shot through the roof!. Even the majority of higher-spec models come fitted with large 19-inch alloy wheels, which doesn’t seem to affect ride comfort. The seats are supple and make travelling long journeys no issue at all, but they could do with a touch more support to keep you in place when you’re taking corners at moderate speed. The diesel engine can sound a little throaty when worked hard. This is slightly exaggerated with the CVT automatic gearbox. There’s noticeably more outside noise, compared with the Qashqai. With none of that car’s upgraded seals and less sound deadening being fitted in the 2017 facelift, the X-Trail can be quite loud when driven at speed.

To drive it's certainly no sports car. The Nissan's steering is nicely weighted, and although it leans quite a bit when you push it faster through corners, it doesn’t ever feel unsafe, just a little uncontrolled next to its more composed rivals. There’s a noticeable amount of body roll, and it can be prone to moving around a fair bit over harsh bumps in the road. The X-Trail feels a bit more clumsy, and less comfortable than its brother the Qashqai. It still rides well absorbing most lumps and bumps in the road, even with the larger 18in and 19in wheels.

The X-Trail is no entertainer, but it’s easy to drive for such a lumpy machine, thanks to light steering and a ton of safety tech. It also includes Nissan's ‘Intelligent Trace Control’ which constantly monitors your speed and steering, adjusting your line through a corner if the car senses you’re going to take it wide, rather than cutting in with juddering traction control once the car has lost grip. Intelligent Ride Control appears, too, using subtle engine braking to reduce vibrations over particularly bad roads, or speed bumps.

The facelifted Nissan X-Trail is a simple car to drive, with a small turning circle, accurate and light steering, and good forward visibility.On the road, it’s difficult to notice any great differences between two and four wheel drive versions. Only offroad or towing can you really notice the extra power and grip. However, the X-Trail is by no means the best off-roader on sale, so if that’s your priority then look elsewhere as the ground clearance isn’t as impressive as a Land Rover for example.

If you often drive on country roads that can be especially bad in winter, you’ll likely appreciate the security and peace of mind the four wheel drive X-Trail's offer. You can choose between 2wd and 4wd with a rotary switch near the gear lever, although the system can automatically select all wheel drive if it detects the wheels slipping.

Relatively low power and performance, plus a broad offering of safety equipment means the X-Trail is pretty competitive on insurance. In fact, the Nissan has dropped around 10 insurance groups compared to the old model, meaning cheaper running costs. All models fall into groups ranging from 17 to 21, depending on the exact spec. By comparison, the more powerful Honda CR-V starts at band 24.

The X-Trail does score highly for safety, plus Nissan has a great reputation for producing reliable cars, which expertly deal with our day to day vehicle needs. There has only been a couple of recalls on the X-Trail that are worth being aware of, if you are in the market to buy one. The first recall by the DVSA was on cars built between April 2015 and June 2016 regarding failure of an oxygen sensor. The other was an issue with the struts, keeping the tailgate from staying open. Any issues from a recall should have been rectified by a Nissan dealer, but it's still best to check that any of this kind of work has been undertaken before you part with any money.

Verdict

So our verdict is that the X-Trail is essentially a bigger Qashqai, although as a seven seater it's not the roomiest people carrier in that class. Vehicles such as the VW Tiguan Allspace, Kia Sorento, Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008, and Hyundai Santa Fe all have larger cabins. Elsewhere, large five-seat SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav 4 are worth considering if its a large SUV with decent boot space that you need.

The similarity of the X-Trail to the Qashqai inside the cabin means that it is stacked high with tech, on the more expensive models in the range. Standard entry-level equipment includes 17 inch alloy wheels, air con, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, while the top spec Tekna models have upsized wheels, a Bose sound system, heated leather seats and increased safety kit.

The X-Trail's key selling point is definitely the fact that it’s a family style SUV, that seats seven. Its abandoned the rugged character of the older X-Trail models in favour of a more rounded look that it shares with the smaller Nissan Qashqai. In fact, the Qashqai and X-Trail share much more than a similar look, as they use the same platform, engines and interior gadgets. It is decent to drive too, with a comfortable ride and a good sense of composure at speed.

Thanks for reading to the end, drive safe!