Nissan X-Trail is the bigger brother of the hugely popular Qashqai. Despite very similar exterior design, the X-Trail is noticeably higher and longer, offering significantly more interior space, and an optional 3rd row of seats.
Our test vehicle, Nissan X-Trail DCi 130 N-Vision seven-seater, came with a very impressive list of standard equipment: all-wheel-drive, diamond cut alloy wheels, 360° camera, six airbags, keyless start and entry, electric parking brake, sunroof, Bluetooth streaming and telephony, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, electric tailgate and lane departure warning, rear air vents, climate control and cooled front cupholders.
Behind the wheel the X-Trail feels comfortable, and the design is clean and functional. The cloth-trimmed seats are soft, yet supportive. The dash and doors trims are a mix of soft and hard plastics. Despite the choice of cheaper and harder plastics, the X-Trail feels solidly put together – the interior fit and finish is excellent.
There is plenty of space at the front, with excellent headroom and legroom. At the back, there is even more headroom, and the rear seat (2nd row) can be moved back to allow for more leg room. Rear 40/20/40 split-fold bench seat slides and reclines, and access to the 3rd-row seat is good. However, those two extra seats are tiny and very cramped – this is a kids-only third row seat for occasional use only.
The X-Trail boasts a 550-litre boot, and there is a small storage area under the boot floor. The 3rd-row seats easily fold into the boot floor.
Our only major criticism is the engine. Except when pottering around or cruising along, the X-Trail’s 1.6 turbo diesel engine offers little in terms of refinement – even under moderate acceleration it seems noisy and unsophisticated, with a substantial amount of noise protruding into the cabin. On paper this engine looks great (128PS and 300Nm of torque), but its power delivery is limited to between 1400rpm and 2500rpm, requring frequent gear changes. Although the engine is quite noisy under acceleration, the X-Trail doesn’t take that much effort to get up to speed. At 70MPH in 6th gear the engine is revving at 2250rpm, and the interior noise is around 72dB, which is rather high.
Fuel consumption is quite impressive – we managed 54MPG on the motorway, and around 42MPG around town. Not bad for such a big car.
The steering wheel feels very light and slow, and there is hardly any feedback. The suspension feels firm, and on uneven roads wheels can start to feel unsettled. But overall the car feels safe and predictable.
Things, however, improve significantly as soon as you take the X-Trail offroad. The part-time AWD system offers 3 modes: 2WD for everyday use, Auto AWD for better grip in more challenging situations, and AWD Lock for maximum grip off-road. In good conditions, to maximise fuel economy, in the Auto AWD mode the X-Trail runs only in two-wheel-drive mode unless it detects the front wheels slipping. In practice, we found this system very useful and very easy to use – the AWD Lock mode provides excellent off-road abilities. Needless to say, this is no Land Rover Defender, but it’s pretty good for a family SUV.
Our verdict: the X-Trail is far from perfect, but still it’s a great family car. Very practical, spacious, comfortable and fuel efficient with good equipment level and excellent build quality.