X STILL MARKS THE TOP SPOT
SMART AND STURDY SUV WITH PROVEN DRIVETRAIN
NISSAN'S X-Trail, until a while ago,was the best seller in its class, which says a lot for the versatile vehicle.
It was so good that Renault borrowed its drivetrain for its Koleos offroader.
The latest X-Trail has retained much of Ol' Faithful's mechanicals, but added some design changes and improved safety and techno bits - without affecting the price.
Also, you can get it in 2 or 4WD and with petrol or diesel power.
Then there's the choice of 2.0 or 2.5litre petrol engines, fittings and features from the standard ST, ST-L or TI and five or seven seats.
Outside, the newie looks bigger and has a shiny new grille, LED daytime running lights, foglights, roof rails, smart alloy wheels and a squarish rear end with big, bright tail lights.
Our review model was a midrange ST-L 4WD, priced at $38,590.
Its 2.5 motor is good for 126kW/226Nm. It drives through a smooth CVT and runs on 17-inch wheels.
There's a lot of room inside, with especially spacious rear seat accommodation for three, plus 565litres of cargo room, expandable to 945litres with the seats folded down.
Back-seat occupants also get their own air vents.
The doors open wide and the leather-trimmed seats are comfy and easy to slide into or out of, and the cabin is pretty well presented with a 7-inch touchscreen with satnav, a decent multi-speaker stereo system, push-button start and dual-zone climate control.
The front seats are heated and the one for the pilot has power adjustment.
There’s a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and instrumentation is a mix of analogue and digital, all clear and easily read.
For the folk who need to plug things in, there's a USB port and a 12-volt charge point in the centre console, and another in the storage box.
The X-Trail has six airbags, blind-spot warning, a very good reversing camera with cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking.
It's a very easy and pleasant vehicle to drive, its light steering and well-sorted suspension delivering a confident, compliant ride and competent handling, and that camera – well, there are four of them – gives a bird's eye view to allow precise reverse parking or see whatever is around you.
The car runs quietly and has enough power for good acceleration and quick overtaking at cruising speeds, and we were much impressed with its 7.9litres/100km average fuel consumption.
The X-Trail normally runs in front-wheel drive, but its 'intelligent 4x4' - which includes hill descent control - automatically distributes up to 50per cent power to the rear wheels as required.
For do-it-yourselfers, a turn of the central rotary dial allows manual selection of 2 or 4WD and there's a centre diff lock should you wander into hostile terrain.
A smart, sturdy, spacious SUV with a proven, respected drivetrain. What's
not to like?
Nissan's latest X-Trail. Verdict: