OLD FAVOURITE ON JUICE
NISSAN X-TRAIL HAS BEEN MADE BIGGER AND – GENERALLY – BETTER
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.