The Nissan X-Trail was one of the pioneers of the ‘soft roader’ craze and has been a popular choice for Australian families for more than 20 years.
The new model is bigger and better than its predecessor, with more technology and better handling.
The new X-Trail starts at a fraction of more than $40,000 for the front-wheel drive ST. You’ll pay around $3000 more for all-wheel drive and seven seats. The next up model is the ST-L, which is available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive and starts at around $47,000 per car. The Ti is another $7000, then the longest range Ti-L we drove is about $57,400. Later in the year you can buy a hybrid version of the range-topper for $61,750, which is on par with Toyota’s RAV4 Edge hybrid. The cheapest model has a stunning 8.0-inch touchscreen and small digital driver display, plus manual cloth seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, single-zone air conditioning and AppleCarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Unlike rivals, the X-Trail only has one engine choice across the range. The Ti-L ups the ante over the ST with nappa leather, 19-inch alloy wheels, a larger center screen, digital instrument panel and head-up display. Other extras include a built-in sat nav, wireless phone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay. You still need a cable if you have an Android phone. There’s a five-year warranty and a prepaid five-year maintenance plan costs $2359.
The new X-Trail is slightly shorter than its predecessor, but wider and taller, meaning decent head and shoulder room in the second row. There are some thoughtful family-oriented inclusions like second-row blinds. The rear seats slide back and forth and the outer ones are heated, while there are individual climate controls and two USB plugs. Legroom is on par with the competition and rear cargo space is generous, with a false floor for hiding valuables. The tailgate can be opened and closed with the push of a button, while the rear-view mirror can be switched to a digital display, providing a camera feed from the rear of the car for a better view of the road beyond. The seats are comfortable, with a wide range of adjustments. The additional soundproofing keeps road and tire noise to a minimum, while the soft suspension absorbs bumps and waves well and ensures a comfortable ride.
The X-Trail received a five-star rating in recent independent crash tests, with an occupant rating of 91 percent and a child occupant rating of 90 percent. The Nissan also scored high (97 percent) for its collision avoidance technology, which includes the usual Lane Keeping System, Blind Spot Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition and Radar Cruise Control. The Nissan will also apply the brakes if it detects a potential obstacle as you’re reversing out of the driveway, and will warn you if you’ve left someone behind when you exit. All technology works seamlessly without annoying beeps and interventions.
The new X-Trail feels more responsive and nimble on the road. Its suspension is geared more toward comfort than sharp reflexes, but it’s stable and predictable in corners, with light steering for navigating parking lots and tight streets. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder, matched to a continuously variable transmission, is more than adequate for motorway cruising and overtaking and feels refined, if not as responsive as turbo-powered rivals. Fuel economy is a little high around town, but it’s reasonably efficient on the open road.
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid, from approximately $57,500 Drive-Away. The benchmark in its class, with a spacious, practical cab, more power and excellent fuel efficiency.
Mazda CX-5 G25 Akera AWD, starting at around $56,500. Cheaper, with a cabin that is high quality but starting to look dated. More powerful turbo engine.
Hyundai Tucson Highlander AWD, from about $55,000 drive-away. A smaller turbo engine has more torque and is more efficient. High-quality high-tech interior.
Three and a half stars
Nissan didn’t reinvent the X-Trail, but the new model is smarter and more modern with a family-friendly cabin.
NISSAN X-TRAIL Ti-L
PRICE From around $57,400 by car
WARRANTY/SERVICE Five years/unlimited mileage, $2581 over five years
ENGINE 2.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine, 135 kW and 244 Nm
SAFETY Seven airbags, automatic emergency braking, automatic rear braking, lane keeping and blind spot assist, speed sign recognition
TO SAVE space saving
LUGGAGE 585 liters
Originally published as Nissan X-Trail Review: Major upgrade for the popular soft-roader