First we got rumours, then a few leaked photos and then we got the real deal: an up-to-date replacement for the popular Nissan X-trail. It finally hit our shores a few months back. This new model X-Trail is a definite improvement on the previous wagon which, even with its aged styling, still maintained respectable sales figures for Nissan with around 140,000 units sold.
But times change and a vehicle that has been with us for almost 13 years (including upgrades) has now been replaced with one featuring a revised and more upmarket interior, subdued and more sweeping lines all round and an emphasis towards on-road rather than off-road ride and performance.
A close look reveals the 2014 X-Trail’s styling is right up with the Pathfinder/Murano/Qashqai genre, and its good looks disguise the fact that the new X-Trail is actually a little taller and 5mm lower than its predecessor. The Ti as reviewed does, of course, sit on 18” wheels which gives it considerable road presence!
Eight variants within three specification levels of ST, ST-L and Ti are available and both 2.0L and 2.5L petrol engines are available. Both seven and five seaters are options along with 2WD and AWD variants. The five seaters are confined to the AWD vehicles only.
Interestingly, many SUV buyers these days are happy to choose a family SUV without AWD simply to save costs all round. The family can still enjoy all the usual benefits of luggage space, high driving and seating positions, comfort and interior roominess with two wheels doing the work, rather than four. While the AWD models will still take some market share, the predominant sales emphasis is expected to be on 2WDs.
The five seat ST 2.0L four-cylinder petrol (the only model with a manual gear box) might be the base model but it’s no poverty pack thanks to features such as bluetooth streaming, a rear view camera, six air bags, hill descent control, daylight running lights, 5” LCD screen and cruise control. The ST-L – an auto like the Ti – has a larger 7” touch screen with sat nav, dual zone auto leather trim on seats with electric adjustment on front seats, digital radio and an Around View Monitor via a wide angle camera set up near the number plate.
The Ti, as reviewed, has all this plus keyless entry, leather interior trim, LED headlights, power tailgate, panoramic sunroof and auto dimming rear view mirror plus the 18” wheels. Additionally, there’s blind spot and lane departure warning systems, and moving object detection. Those are just some of the luxury specs. Let’s look at what the buyer will find to their liking inside.
From the electrically powered driver’s seat – large enough to be really comfortable on longer trips – the Ti’s interior was a subtle but very tasteful mix of brushed metal highlights, faux chrome sections around door handles vents and dash sections accented by contrasting darker panelling all round.
The dash was particularly eye catching with a colour trip computer offering information on fuel use, the driver’s rating as an ECO champion (I was quite mediocre) and further information on the AWD mode when in use via the console selector knob.
Leather seats, leather wheel wrap and gear selector all added class while dash and side panels with their darker panels made a subtle yet impressive contrast. There were ample drink holders and general storage areas aplenty, plus an abundance of power outlets. The boot area was very clever with a couple of levels of large underfloor storage trays available, strongly made to cater for heavier items.
As a five seater the Ti X- trail offered ample leg and head room for all aboard, the high SUV seating offering a great view of all surrounds.
The 2.5L four cylinder petrol engine was no fire breather (126kW of power, 226Nm of torque) but mated to the Xtronic CVT unit it did a reasonable job of powering the solid wagon through traffic in the city with easy highway cruising a bonus. The engine and auto unit weren’t the quietest in their class and were certainly at their best when the vehicle was one or two up, not loaded fully with passengers and cargo. In the latter instance the CVT unit showed its mettle in responding to driver’s demands by working just that bit harder to achieve requirements.
The drive is typically to the front wheels, with the usual auto mode instantly allocating power to rear wheels if any slip is detected. The console dial will lock AWD via the centre diff at a touch for muddy or snowy conditions.
Drivers will find their new X-Trail to have an easy and well mannered ride which might be only slightly upset by the small sharp bumps in suburban car parking areas. Yet the suspension set up will easily cope with the normal, somewhat blemished surfaces of our major roads and many highways. Electric power steering, active ride control, hill start assist, active engine braking (on descents) are all standard and make the driving experience enjoyable.
When it comes to fuel use, Nissan claim around 8.3L per 100km but on a mix of city and country work I averaged 11.1L per 100km. Remember, I was disgraced on the ECO drive gauge! Too heavy footed it seems.
The new Version Two X-Trail is a very strong contender within the highly competitive segment of the mid-sized SUV wagon market. Overall it’s hugely improved and stacked to the brim with desirable features. While some of the competition might be considered to handle better or have peppier power plants, the X-Trail’s strengths of easy passenger access, huge rear luggage area accessed via a top opening door, plus its slick finish make it a serious contender for line honours. Warranty is three years/100,000 km. Towing capacity is now 1500kg. Prices start from around $44,680 for the Ti AWD.Reads: 1137