What is it?
The X-Trail has been around for a while now, 17 years in fact, and during that time they've managed to sell quite a few of 'em. Now in its 3rd incarnation, Nissan decided to give it a bit of freshen up in 2017 and it continues to be a hit for them. In 2016 for example, over 16,000 X-Trails were sold in Britain alone, with 760,000 sold worldwide. That isn't bad for an old-timer, so I decided to borrow one and see what all the fuss was about.
On the road
As often as possible I like to give our press cars a good old fashioned long haul, this isn’t always possible as work and other commitments can often get in the way. However, the week we had with the X-Trail we managed quite a bit of touring. We began with a trip to North Wales, the Great Orme that towers above Llandudno to be specific, where we ate a freshly prepared pizza - as you do.
Then, after a few days of general commuting we left Muddy Towers at the unearthly time of 4.00am to get to Peterborough for the LAMMA show for 7.00am, but due to the high winds they cancelled it. Not all was lost mind, during this dark and dreary drive along a wet M62 and A1, the X-Trail proved itself to be a rather nice cruiser.
Like most SUVs, the X-Trail isn’t all about on-road performance, it’s more about an all-round delivery of economy and comfort without compromising its off-road ability. The independent MacPherson struts and independent multi-link suspension front and rear made journeys both comfortable and relaxed.
Being a smaller engine, the 128bhp 1.6ltr diesel was more than adequate for my needs, which surprised me as I always tend to go for the biggest engine, but I was quite happy with its performance.
The X-Trail doesn’t come with a low box, but it does have Nissan’s All Mode 4x4-i that’s controlled via a rotary switch on the centre console. It offers a choice between 2-wheel drive, Auto mode or Lock that gives you permanent 4-wheel drive.
In the ‘default' Auto mode, the system constantly monitors throttle opening, engine speed and torque to anticipate wheel spin and to distribute torque between front and rear axles as needed, at speeds of up to 50mph.
Above that speed, the system reacts to wheel-spin, again shifting drive rearwards to restore traction as required. For tricky conditions and at low speeds, Lock mode gives the X-Trail permanent four-wheel drive. Like pretty much all the other 4x4s I’ve reviewed in recent times, my advice would be to leave the X-Trail in Auto, and let it sort itself out, it’s good at doing that.
Obviously I’m not one who usually shies away from getting press cars dirty, but I didn’t venture too far away from the beaten track with the X-Trail, I was too busy carting people and things here, there and everywhere. However, performing my usual balancing act in Auto mode, it managed perfectly well to creep into that position, and once I’d jumped back in after taking photos it drove out from stationary without a hint of wheel spin.
Seeing as I have the measurements to hand I might as well share them with you. The front and rear overhangs are 940mm and 995mm with a ground clearance of 210mm.
Inside the cabin the Tekna trim buyer should be rather pleased with their purchase as soft touch surfaces, black leather and carbon fibre effect inserts surround you. There’s a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel that makes it easier to slide in and out of the driver’s seat and all the gauges are easy to read.
Some people have moaned that the centre 7” touch screen, that takes care of the sat nav and connectivity along with the CD and auxiliary attachments, is too small. Personally I think it’s just right, and doesn’t distract you when driving, so it’s big thumbs up from me.
As I’ve already mentioned, we drove quite a lot of motorway mileage throughout the week, during which I had nothing but praise for the front seats which were both comfortable and supportive. Rear seat passengers were equally impressed, especially as they have 60/40 split reclining and sliding seats - they were spoilt.
Worthy of a mention is the lower part of the dash. You see on some cars, around where your left knee and lower leg rests there’s often sharp plastic trim which can often make long journeys a painful affair. In the X-trail however, you will find the lower part of the dash curved and padded. Nice one Nissan, nice one.
Although we didn’t use the folding rear 6 and 7 seats, we did load it with numerous BBQs and stoves that we were testing, along with other outdoor camping equipment, and the X-Trail swallowed them all with room to spare. Luggage space with all seats in position is 445 litres, expanding to 1,996 litres with the 60:40 split second and third rows folded.
Interior wise, the only thing we could find to moan about was that the passenger side windscreen wiper misses a substantial part of the window, and therefore tall passengers may moan at the lack of visibility when driving in the rain. But on the positive side, Muddy Madam rated the heating system as one of the best she’s experienced, especially the dual control.
Engines ’n’ transmissions
There are three engine options are available to X-Trail buyers, two turbocharged diesel engines - a 1.6ltr with 128bhp and 2ltr that makes 174bhp. The 1.6ltr turbo petrol boasts 161bhp.
Diesels come with a choice of the 6-speed manual gearbox or a CVT auto along with two or 4-wheel drive, but the petrol is only available in manual and 2WD.
Odds ’n’ sods
The X-Trail comes in three flavours:, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna, and all trim levels have air-conditioning, alloy wheels and six airbags, LED daytime running lights, five-inch colour combimeter display, Bluetooth with microphone, cruise control and speed limiter. Hill start assist, sliding and reclining rear seats and a luggage board system are also among the features fitted as standard.
N-Connecta models add NissanConnect 7-inch touch-screen navigation and entertainment system, colour front, rear and side cameras, DAB digital radio and 19-inch Machine cut alloy wheels. N-tec models also features Nissan’s Smart Vision Pack that includes: Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Traffic Signal Recognition
Range-topping Tekna models include Bi-LED headlamps, leather seats, electrically-adjustable driver's seat, front and rear parking sensors and 19-inch alloy wheels. In addition, Tekna models also feature Intelligent key with engine start button.
Over the week the X-Trail received a lot of positive comments, both from neighbours, and strangers whilst in supermarket car parks. Overall I have to agree.
Of course there are some negatives that I have to air, like the auto dimming headlights that were often fooled by their own reflections from road signs. Once dimmed it took too long for them to resume normal shine.
I’ve already mentioned the passenger windscreen wiper, and my only other moan was that rear doors felt lightweight and without substance, but that’s weight-saving for you. However I wouldn’t worry about it as the X-Trail has a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Nissan reckoned I should’ve expected 52.3mpg during a combined cycle, but I achieved around the mid 40’s, which wasn’t too shabby, considering.