Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

THE X-Trail, the top-sell­ing SUV in its class for many a year, has moved up a notch in most di­rec­tions.

It's now restyled to take on Nis­san's cor­po­rate look, and it comes in a va­ri­ety of trim and me­chan­i­cal specs.

There are two and four­wheel-drives, five and seven seaters, three grades of peck­ing or­der, and a cou­ple of petrol en­gines with a diesel on the way.

The new one is ar­guably a bet­ter-look­ing beastie than its popular pre­de­ces­sor, but the orig­i­nal squared X-Trail de­vel­oped a strong fol­low­ing through the years and many will miss its character and com­pact size.

While not quite as big as the Pathfinder, which also un­der­went a growth phase a while ago, the lat­est X-Trail has been at the steroid bot­tle and is now wider, longer, taller, and has a longer wheel­base and a greater tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

Power is from a choice of two petrol en­gines, a 106kW/200Nm 2.0-litre in the base model – which is also the sole model to get a man­ual gear­box – and the rest get a 126kW/226Nm 2.5litre mo­tor and a six-step CVT with se­quen­tial shift.

The test X-Trail was the ST, one-up from base, but two rungs down the lad­der from the ST-L and Ti, and it ran in front-wheel drive.

Four-wheel-drive is also avail­able through­out the range.

It's priced from $33,980 and has a quite im­pres­sive list of stan­dard gear, in­clud­ing a fiveinch LCD QVGA dash dis­play, Di­vide-N-Hide stor­age sys­tem, air­con, hill-start as­sist, Smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity, Ac­tive Ride Con­trol, 17-inch al­loys and a rev­ers­ing cam­era.

The in­te­rior is neat and pleas­ant with good in­stru­men­ta­tion, driver con­trols are well po­si­tioned and ver­sa­tile, and vis­i­bil­ity is great in all di­rec­tions bar three-quar­ter front, where thick A-pil­lars and big out­side mir­rors blot out a fair amount of coun­try­side.

It's very roomy, due to the ex­tra width and longer wheel­base, and there are lots of pock­ets and boxes to store things on­board.

A good fea­ture is the wideopen­ing doors, great for help­ing aged pas­sen­gers in and out, and for load­ing cum­ber­some cargo. Front seats are from the Al­tima lux­ury sedan. Nice.

It has a foot-op­er­ated park­ing brake, which some peo­ple seem to like, but not moi.

It runs well, with its 2.5-litre en­gine pro­vid­ing lots of surge, and it didn't use much fuel.

We av­er­aged 9.2litres/ 100km.

Of course it has all the safety bits du jour and a five-star rat­ing.

The Ja­pan-built X-Trail is a well-pre­sented, com­pe­tent and good-look­ing ve­hi­cle. Not much to dis­like. But we do miss its lov­able pre­de­ces­sor.

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