More than meets the eye

Nis­san’s lat­est SUV main­tains its com­pet­i­tive edge with­out los­ing its well-known fea­tures, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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.


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 (fron­twheel-drive) vari­ant a few years ago. Now there are more 2WD X-Trails in the line-up 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.


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.

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 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 2.0litre.

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.


Built in Ja­pan, the new XTrail 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.

In­side is roomier than be­fore thanks to slightly larger di­men­sions all around ex­cept ground clear­ance which is down a tad – un­der­lin­ing XTrail’s 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.


Much bet­ter than ex­pected and we don’t mind the looks at all – in­side and out. There’s plenty of kit and a will­ing pow­er­train at not too high a price for a Ja­panese-made prod­uct. Def­i­nitely worth a look.

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