WELL-WORN TRAIL

Nis­san’s ever re­li­able SUV is an ideal fam­ily all-rounder

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

World­wide, peo­ple buy more Nis­san X-Trails than any other SUV on sale to­day. So what makes it such a global suc­cess? We’re test­ing the top-spec all­wheel-drive TL diesel model to see how this global bestseller stacks up Down Un­der.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

IAN: The X-Trail is the Toy­ota Corolla of SUVs. It’s in­of­fen­sive, does most things pretty well and has a loyal fol­low­ing.

JULES: Mean­ing it’s dull. IAIN: But most buy­ers love dull. They want prac­ti­cal­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and noth­ing po­lar­is­ing.

JULES: Suc­cess­fully cater­ing to the masses then. And I can see why. It looks sharp and mod­ern, Nis­san’s a good badge and the X-Trail’s just the right size. Big enough for fam­ily and life­style equip­ment, but not hulk­ing and cum­ber­some.

IAIN: Nailed it. X-Trails can look good value too, with a start­ing price as low as $28,490 for the 2WD petrol ST ver­sion.

JULES: Our blingy bright blue ver­sion with chrome ga­lore isn’t that one I take it?

IAIN: Not by a long shot. This is the AWD turbo-diesel TL range-top­per. A whop­ping $20,000 more than en­try level. It’ll cost more than $50,000 to drive one away.

JULES: Woah. $50k buys plenty of tasty SUV ri­vals.

IAIN: True. Think Hyundai Tuc­son High­lander, Kia Sportage GT-Line, Mazda CX-5 Ak­era or VW Tiguan 162TSI High­line all with sim­i­lar spec. You could even go big­ger and bag a Skoda Ko­diaq or Peu­geot 5008.

THE LIV­ING SPACE

JULES: Very plush and roomy in here with elec­tric leather heated seats, flat-bot­tomed heated steer­ing wheel and soft-touch leath­ery dash­board.

IAIN: Heated rear seats for the kids too; this is busi­ness class X-Trail­ing.

JULES: For $50,000 you’d want a spe­cial cabin and it feels very well finished in­side. Honourable men­tions to the faux car­bon fi­bre door in­serts and soft knee rests in both footwells. Nice touches. IAIN: Gen­er­ally it’s good, but a foot­brake rather than elec­tric hand­brake is an­tique, plus the in­fo­tain­ment feels a gen­er­a­tion old. There’s no Ap­ple CarPlay or An­droid Auto, the re­verse cam­era is low rent and the 7-inch screen’s smaller than most ri­vals. Tech-savvy par­ents ex­pect bet­ter th­ese days. JULES: It’s still got a CD player too, how won­der­fully old-school. I loved bust­ing out my 90s CDs for the school run. IAIN: In­fo­tain­ment may be lag­ging, but wow, what a sound sys­tem. Bose as stan­dard in the TL, and it’s a cracker. JULES: For the money you get auto lights and wipers, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, sat­nav, 360-de­gree cam­era and safety kit such as auto emer­gency brak­ing, blind spot warn­ing, rear cross traf­fic alert, mov­ing ob­ject de­tec­tion and lane de­par­ture warn­ing.

IAIN: Dis­ap­point­ingly though only the top­spec petrol Ti ver­sion gets auto lane keep and in­tel­li­gent cruise con­trol. Not in this pricier diesel though. Weird.

JULES: Radar cruise is pretty com­mon on $50k cars to­day. Shame not to have it as it’s so use­ful on the high­way and in traf­fic.

THE COM­MUTE

IAIN: Rides com­fort­ably, I saw un­der 7L/100km on mo­tor­ways and for a diesel it’s quiet and re­fined in the cabin. In no way thrilling though.

JULES: As you said, the peo­ple want bor­ing, Or to be fair, de­pend­able, smooth and just a nice place to drive for a few hours.

THE SHOP­PING IAIN: Solidly built for fam­ily du­ties, the boot’s mas­sive with a clever sunken floor if you need even more space.

JULES: You can cram loads in, plus the tail­gate opens with a foot swipe un­der the rear bumper.

IAIN: Child in one arm, eight shop­ping bags and a car­ton of VB in the other, thank good­ness we don’t need to rest that on the roof any­more while hunt­ing for keys.

JULES: But for fifty grand, no park­ing sen­sors front or rear? We’re so used to them th­ese days it was a mir­a­cle I didn’t re­verse into a bol­lard.

SUN­DAY RUN

IAIN: Erring more to on-road than off-road use, the X-Trail is ac­tu­ally a pretty neat han­dler. It feels sta­ble in the cor­ners and there’s am­ple torque from the diesel en­gine.

JULES: With all-wheel-drive and 210mm ground clear­ance it’d hunt down some out­there camp­ing spots too.

IAIN: There’s still not much joy to the drive though, which I’ll blame in part on the CVT auto gear­box. This X-Trail may shine on the high­way, but ask for oomph and it’s first slug­gish, then nois­ily revvy, then lazy once more.

THE FAM­ILY

JULES: Top marks here. Huge boot for bikes, the rear doors open wide to strap kids in eas­ily and the chil­dren loved the moon­roof.

IAIN: There’s good vis­i­bil­ity too and count­less bins and hold­ers to store your stuff. I reckon it was a par­ent who de­signed this cabin.

JULES: I thought the X-Trail was seven seats th­ese days though?

IAIN: It can be, but in 2WD petrol only, strangely. For the $50k drive-away, I’d re­ally want the ver­sa­til­ity of those two ex­tra seats.

THE VER­DICT

JULES: Easy to live with, ideal for fam­i­lies, looks good and quite plush. For the money though, it lacks the X-Fac­tor to make me love it.

IAIN: Agreed. I think the X-Trail’s a su­perb fam­ily hauler, but for bet­ter value, leave this TL model alone and pick some­thing cheaper from the range. Or there’s a glut of afore­men­tioned tal­ented al­ter­na­tives to con­sider.

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