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