It’s a big set of shoes to fill but Nissan’s new X-Trail medium size SUV, even in 2WD, does a decent job of matching its popular, utilitarian predecessor. It’s a good looker featuring Nissan ‘family’ styling but without the bulbous lines of the larger Pathfinder.
The new X-Trail is a much more modern design compared with the earlier ‘brick’. More than 140,000 X-Trails have been sold here over about a decade and they forged a tidy niche with families who wanted a practical, roomy, reliable wagon with some off road capability.
That was changing with the appearance of a 2WD (front-wheel drive) variant a few years ago. Now there are more 2WD X-Trails in the lineup than fourbies. And they have a seven seat option too – only in 2WD though.
This is the vehicle we drove, an ST-L 2WD seven seater with a slightly revised version of the previous petrol, 2.5-litre four cylinder. The only transmission on any X-Trail except the base 2.0-litre is a six speed stepped CVT X-Tronic auto with sequential shift.
PRICE AND KIT
It sells for $37,190 which isn’t too shabby when you look at the standard features. It scores some driver assist features including the handy reverse camera ‘Around View’ that allows drivers to see to the left and right when reversing from between two larger vehicles.
It has satnav, digital radio, Nissan Connect for digital devices including phone and audio. Dual zone climate control is part of the package as is active ride control that adjusts to suit road conditions on the move.
Heated driver/passenger seat, EZ-Flez sliding and folding centre row seats, leather (ish) upholstery and a seven inch info screen are all included.
The stylish interior is versatile and functional as well as being easy on the eye with a range of fascia materials like geometric metal, piano black and chrome highlights.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The 1500kg X-Trail ST-L’s 2.5-litre petrol engine has been around for a while and doesn’t get efficiency boosting direct fuel injection like the new 2.0-litre. It achieves 126kW/226Nm output and can get as good as 7.9-litres/100km fuel economy on regular 91 RON unleaded.
The CVT transmission functions a lot like a six speed conventional auto and has a sequential mode for sporty driving. There’s also an Eco mode that changes shift points for optimised fuel economy.
Drive in the test vehicle was to the front wheels only which is sometimes problematic especially in slippery driving and particularly on slow uphill rises like wet driveways. But apart from that, and towing, you wouldn’t really know it’s a fronty.
Performance is good, better than that actually as the X-Trail has plenty of get go and spins out nicely to deliver good all round performance. Drive it hard and fuel consumption jumps but drive carefully and it can reward you with exemplary economy for a medium size SUV.
Built in Japan, the new X-Trail is a cut above some of its competition in terms of build and finish. It just feels better to look at, touch, sit in and drive. Simple as that.
Inside is roomier than before thanks to slightly larger dimensions all round except ground clearance which is down a tad – underlining X-trails greater focus on the “soft road”.
Access to the third row is aided by wider 80 degree opening rear doors and the clever EZ-Fold centre seats. But you wouldn’t want a big adult in there. Load space is compromised when the third row is up, pretty good with it folded.
They put in a few driver assist features on the new model including the already mentioned around view camera, Hill start assist, active braking, moving object detection, rain sensing wipers and auto headlights are included on the ST-L along with the active ride control suspension that delivers a good ride for such a vehicle. It steers, brakes and rides with competence and is easy to live with.