X marks the fam­ily Nis­san

This com­pact four-wheel drive has good man­ners around town, writes GRAHAMSMITH MODEL WATCH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars 2001- 2003 Nissan X- Trail -

THE SUV phe­nom­e­non started in the 1970s with in­tox­i­cat­ing images of peace­ful places far away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city and has since be­come a tidal wave that has flooded our ev­ery­day lives.

The week­end get­aways to the beach or bush have given way to the trek of a life­time for baby-boomers who have taken to the open road in huge num­bers.

But the SUV has also set down roots in our towns as more and more fam­i­lies turn to it for day-to-day fam­ily trans­port.

SUVs (sports util­ity ve­hi­cles) such as the Nis­san X-Trail have be­come the en­dur­ing phe­nom­e­non of mod­ern-day mo­tor­ing. WITH the evo­lu­tion of the SUV came vari­a­tions on the theme as car­mak­ers strove to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of a wide variety of buy­ers.

What was once a rough, tough four-wheel drive de­signed to do hard work in the bush be­came a jacked-up wagon with town man­ners.

Most car­mak­ers gave their SUVs the look of an of­froader, but it was what was un­der­neath that sep­a­rated them from the real bush-bash­ers.

Nis­san tried to give the X-Trail, the com­pact soft-roader SUV it launched in 2001, some off-road cred­i­bil­ity with its smart drive se­lec­tion sys­tem.

A dial on the dash al­lowed the driver to se­lect their de­sired drive for the con­di­tions. Se­lect 2WD and all the drive was di­rected to the front wheels for reg­u­lar driv­ing. The rear wheels were just there to keep the back bumper off the bi­tu­men.

When the road was wet and slip­pery there was the Auto set­ting, which en­gaged the cen­tre vis­cous cou­pling. Drive was elec­tron­i­cally dis­trib­uted front and rear as needed.

For more tricky go­ing, the drive could be locked, which set the torque split at 53 per cent to the front and the rest to the rear. It was ef­fec­tive up to 30 km/h.

It was a good com­pro­mise that de­liv­ered smooth-road man­ners and rea­son­able ca­pa­bil­ity off the road.

The X-Trail’s four-cylin­der en­gine was on the money when it came to out­put, which en­sured it had plenty of per­for­mance avail­able un­der the right foot when de­sired.

The dou­ble over­head camshaft en­gine de­liv­ered 132kW at 6000 revs and 245Nm at 4000 revs, enough to have it do­ing 100km/h about 11 sec­onds af­ter launch.

X-Trail buy­ers had the choice of a five-speed man­ual gear­box or a four­speed auto. The auto was the choice of most town­ies.

Man­ual gear­boxes were nor­mally pre­ferred for con­trol when driv­ing off-road, but even in auto form there was good con­trol of the gears.

Inside there were com­fort­able seats and roomy ac­com­mo­da­tion for five, though the cen­tre rear seat pas­sen­ger had only a lap belt.

The dash was rather un­usual with the di­als lo­cated in a cen­tre clus­ter, and there was a sec­ond glove­box ahead of the driver.

The rest of the con­trols were in the cen­tre con­sole along with drinkhold­ers and more switches, in­clud­ing the drive mode con­trol.

ON THE LOT

THE en­try ST model can be found for $13,000-$17,000; the bet­ter equipped Ti will cost $2000 more. The Ti-L will ab­sorb an ex­tra $5000 over the ST.

IN THE SHOP

ANY time an SUV is driven off-road it’s sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age from sand-blast­ing or fly­ing rocks. Check for dam­age to the un­der­body, sus­pen­sion, drive shafts and ex­haust sys­tem.

If you find no dam­age it’s a good bet it hasn’t gone off-road. Few SUVs ac­tu­ally do.

The X-Trail is gen­er­ally ro­bust and re­li­able if ser­viced ac­cord­ing to Nis­san’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Ser­vic­ing is even more cru­cial if a ve­hi­cle is used off-road.

IN A CRASH

DUAL front airbags pro­vide pro­tec­tion for the driver and front-seat pas­sen­ger. Anti-skid brakes and elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion kick in when things are look­ing like go­ing pear-shaped on the road.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

A BLEND of town man­ners and bush ca­pa­bil­ity makes the X-Trail a good fam­ily all-rounder.

Fam­ily wagon: the Nis­san X-trail has enough get up and go to reach 100km/h in 11 sec­onds.

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