airbags, blind-spot warning and rear crosstraffic alert. It scores five stars for safety. The 360-degree overhead camera view is milky during the day and so fuzzy at night you can’t tell what you’re looking at.
The ST’s 2.0-litre drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission, which unlike others of the genre feels perky. The ST-L gets a gutsier 2.5-litre. The steering is direct and precise, the suspension is supple over bumps and the tyres have sure-footed grip in corners. The X-Trail is a pleasant surprise; it’s certainly closed the gap to the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape, two of the benchmarks in the class. It’s a subjective thing but I prefer the way the X-Trail drives over its peers.
ALTERNATIVES KIA SPORTAGE $31,990-$52,000 DRIVE-AWAY
Recently updated, doesn’t drive quite as nicely as the X-Trail but the price, features and sevenyear warranty are compelling.
FORD ESCAPE $28,990-$48,340 DRIVE-AWAY
Has just had another makeover with more gear. It drives well and is better value now that a fiveyear warranty is standard.
MAZDA CX-5 $33,790-$51,200 DRIVE-AWAY
The latest CX-5 isn’t quite as sharp to drive as the original but it’s still worth a closer look.
I really like the X-Trail to drive but the asking price for the ST-L is too high. The infotainment is dated and the rear camera view fuzzy.