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Car reviews - Nissan - X-Trail


We like
Grippy two-wheel drive action, fuel economy, spacious and practical cabin, icy cold air-conditioning, impressive LED headlights and auto high-beam tech, user-friendly HMI
Room for improvement
Tyre noise on coarse chip roads, ProPilot isn’t infallible, climate control lacks modulation, engine note when pushed, two-tone brown and black interior trim is an acquired taste

Mid-range X-Trail is the sweet spot of Nissan’s mid-size SUV range

23 Jan 2023




SAMPLING a new car over a test route designed by the manufacturer to highlight its finer attributes is all well and good. But taking the car for a week or more – and driving it over a varied mix of surfaces and in myriad weather conditions – is a far better representation of how a vehicle can be expected to perform once it’s handed over to a smiling customer.


Which is exactly why the GoAuto team always take the opportunity to revisit a vehicle, even if it has only just been launched.


For the summer break, we decided to spend some more time with Nissan’s X-Trail. Not because it’s the fastest and most exciting car on the planet, but because it’s what a lot of people buy – and in turn are rightfully curious about.


But before we get into the nitty gritty of our time behind the steering wheel of the latest mid-size SUV from Nissan, let’s recap the model’s positioning within the market.


The fourth generation Nissan X-Trail is part of a collaborative effort from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and, as such, shares most of its (CMF-C) underpinnings with the Mitsubishi Outlander.


Pricing for the X-Trail range commences at $36,750 plus on-road costs for the five-seat ST with the top-shelf Ti-L retailing from $52,990 plus ORCs. On test, we sampled what Nissan believes will be the strongest seller of the range – the ST-L. In five-seat form (as tested) the variant is priced from $43,190 – essentially smack-dab in the middle.


Expectedly, the new X-Trail brings a bevy of new standard equipment to the range. Base grade models get LED lighting front and rear, roof rails, shift-by-wire CVT, high-beam assist, a rear parking camera, rear parking sensors and more.


The model is equipped with an 8.0-inch Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled multimedia system, four USB slots, 17-inch wheels, and a lengthy safety suite which incorporates AEB with pedestrian and cyclise detection, rear AEB with pedestrian detection and cross-traffic alert, lane departure prevention and adaptive cruise control to name just a few.


The ST-L builds on that list with ProPilot driver and safety technology that adds lane keeping assistance. Also included is rear privacy glass, front fog lights, 360-degree camera technology, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, sliding rear seats, front parking sensors, synthetic leather trim, 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats, tyre pressure monitoring and 18-inch alloys.


Ti grades add genuine leather-accented upholstery, 19-inch alloys, a panoramic roof, LED indicators, digital rear-view mirror, tri-zone climate control, adaptive headlights, auto wipers and a powered tailgate.


It also scores a larger 12.3-inch infotainment cluster with native satellite navigation, a 10.8-inch HUD, wireless phone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel.


Finally, for the range-topping Ti-L, we find a heated steering wheel, Bose 10-speaker premium sound, Nappa leather upholstery, front seat memory, rear seat sunshades, hands-free tailgate operation, heated second-row outboard seats and remote engine start.


For now, all X-Trail grades are powered by a reworked version of Nissan’s carryover 2.5-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine and are paired exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A petrol-electric hybrid model will follow in a month or so (February or March 2023).


Current X-Trail variants are offered in two- or all-wheel drive configuration with driver-selectable modes. Power is rated at 135kW (+9kW over the outgoing model) and torque at 244Nm (+18Nm). Braked towing capacity jumps 500kg to a useful 2000kg.


Servicing intervals for the T33 X-Trail range are set at 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first) with two-wheel drive variants priced at $363, $469, $504, $587, $409 and $657 for the first six visits to the service department. Pre-paid service plans are also available.


The Nissan X-Trail is offered with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which includes roadside assistance.


To read more about pricing and specification details on the 2023 Nissan X-Trail, click here.


Driving Impressions


Refreshingly, many of the qualities experienced at the X-Trail’s launch shone through once more during our extended loan of the car. Perhaps none more so than the fact the vehicle offers everything you need in a mid-sized SUV, without the superfluous or “novelty” items you use once, then completely disregard.


And that’s a great thing for busy family owners who just want technology that works.


Don’t think for a moment, however, that the X-Trail is a technological dullard. It isn’t. It’s simply that the technology on offer works so seamlessly with the operator that you kind of forget it’s there. Which, in the view of this reviewer at least, is kind of the entire point.


With two minor exceptions – that we’ll get to in a moment – the X-Trail’s driver assistance and safety technologies are entirely useful and cooperative. The ProPilot system doesn’t jump at shadows and is well calibrated to use on Australian highways. In particular, the adaptive cruise control is wonderfully progressive, so much so that you actually enjoy using it, rather than flicking it off and “driving around it”.


But as mentioned, there are some minor foibles. For one, the X-Trail does struggle to maintain its lane when the outside marking is faded or absent. Unlike some we’ve experienced, the system seems perplexed by the omission of a fog line and is unable to keep its position in the lane without tic-tacking left and right.


Secondly, we found the steering sensors incredibly sensitive to “zero input”. Even with your hands on the wheel, the system determines that no-one is in charge when travelling without continual input. This can get frustrating on longer trips when steering input simply isn’t required, with the system chiming to warn the driver that their hands aren’t on the wheel when, in fact, they absolutely are.


As we’ve noted of the Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Qashqai, which share the Nissan X-Trail’s underpinnings, outward visibility is very good, especially when you’re approaching intersections and roundabouts on a sharp angle. It’s reassuring to sit up in a high-riding car like the X-Trail and be afforded a good view in every direction – and something quite a few of the X-Trail’s rivals could certainly take a lesson from.


The Nissan-sourced 2.5-litre ‘four’ provides decent performance and is a cooperative companion for both around-town and open-road touring. The CVT is a surprisingly good match to an engine that, on paper at least, does not offer a tonne of torque, and manages to keep the X-Trail humming along nicely even with a full complement of passengers and luggage on board.


What’s also interesting about the driveline and chassis of the X-Trail as you spend more time with the car – driving it in all kinds of weather conditions including torrential rain – on both sealed and unsealed roads, is just how confident and composed the vehicle is. We had no issues finding grip, the stability control system working cooperatively in the background to keep it in check when things loosened up underneath.


The X-Trail is very sure of itself, even as a two-wheel drive, and offers extremely clear communication back to the driver. It’s evident through the steering wheel exactly what the front wheels are doing, which we believe, irrespective of your driving experience, is a massive position. Especially to those who are perhaps moving up to the X-Trail from something smaller.


You really do feel in control at the helm of the X-Trail, which is something we were trying to get at earlier. While it’s terrific that car makers are putting more and more equipment into their cars, the fundamental relationship between a vehicle’s mechanicals and the driver is something that can’t be overlooked. Confidence is the key to feeling safe on the road, and the X-Trail offers it in droves.


We also love the fact the cabin is broad and roomy, with generous seating that is reasonably supportive over longer trips. In the back, too, the seats are shapely and well contoured to grown-up bodies, feeling spacious and accommodating instead of flat and narrow.


The X-Trail’s wide opening rear doors make getting in and out a breeze, while the ability to retract and slide the rear seats independently made bundling in all those holiday goodies an absolute cinch.


Though the rear windows don’t offer sunshades or tinting on the ST-L grade, we found the cabin temperature acceptable and the console-mounted ventilation outlets well placed with two occupants in the rear.


But that brings us to something of a sticking point: the X-Trail’s dual-zone climate control. Although the air-conditioning side of things means the cabin is kept wonderfully cool, the modulation of temperature seems rather binary overall, with Lo to 23.5º providing cold air, and 24º and above warm air.


Perhaps this is an issue peculiar to this vehicle, or perhaps the HVAC software needs an update. Whatever the case, it was frustrating to have to ‘dial in’ the temperature and fan speed manually in a vehicle that is meant to do it for you.


On the practicality front, we love the large door bins (the front bottle holders can easily accommodate a 1.25-litre soft drink or a 750ml bottle of wine), the generous under-console tray, and the centre console bin whose butterfly-style lid makes it easy for rear seat passengers to access things inside. Like we said, the X-Trail really has been designed with families in mind.


The manual tailgate is a welcome feature for those of us who dislike electric versions and we really liked the four-window-down function from the key fob – a blessing on hot days, quickly evacuating hot air before jumping inside.


If we were critical about any other facet of the X-Trail it’s tyre noise. The Dunlop Grandtreks fitted to the ST-L aren’t exactly the quietest tyres on the market and resonate significantly on coarse chip surfaces.


On longer stretches of highway with this type of surface, the cabin noise can be rather grating. It’s something we believe may be addressed with a better choice of tyre and is a trait we’d very much like to see Nissan amend when the car faces its mid-cycle update.


Conversely, and for night driving, we found the LED headlights to offer both a good spread of light and a decent reach, the automatic high beam system particularly good in dipping the lights for cars ahead travelling both toward and away from us.


Of course, when you add it all together, the X-Trail’s pros significantly outweigh its cons. Between the useful on-board tech, practical cargo area, spacious cabin and fuss-free driveline there really is a lot to like here – and a lot that we believe will appeal to family buyers in particular.


Sure, the brown over black interior décor mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, but in every other way we like the styling of the car and think it’s one of those designs that will age very well.


In our eyes, the X-Trail is something of a winner.


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