Jackson Rowe is considering buying a two- to three-year-old Nissan X-Trail. It would be the family’s regular day-to-day car but he also wants it to tow a medium-sized “tinnie” and a small trailer of firewood out of the bush. He asks if the X-Trail is up to it and he’s also concerned about reports of troubles with the constantly variable transmission and diesel engine. An SUV is perhaps the ultimate all-purpose vehicle. It has to transport the family, cart kids to weekend sports, head to the country on weekends and tow the trailer, boat or caravan.
It’s a tough call for any vehicle and owners are always looking to match their needs with the capability of their car.
The four-wheel-drive XTrail is rated to tow up to 2000kg braked and 750kg unbraked, and the front-wheeldrive model is rated at 1500kg/750kg. On the assumption he’s considering the 4WD model, it should be fine.
The X-Trail fitted in between the “soft-roaders” of similar rugged appearance — unsuited to anything more than a gravel road — and the more serious off-road pluggers that were equally at home in the bush or the burbs.
The front-wheel-drive starter model was for anyone who simply wanted a wagon; the bulk of the range was ondemand AWD.
A twist of the dial on the dash allowed the driver to switch between front, on-demand and a more serious locked 4WD.
Petrol engine options were 2.0 and a 2.5-litre; the turbo diesel was a 2.0.
A six-speed manual was joined by a CVT option on petrol models and a six-speed auto option on the diesel.
The petrol engines are fine if your range of operation is limited to the blacktop but if you’ve got a hankering for open spaces then the diesel is the go.
On the road the X-Trail is safe and secure, it rides well and handles with assurance, while off-road the suspension soaks up rocky bush roads with ease. Our reader was concerned about reports of troubles with the CVT and the diesel engine.
Some owners are disappointed with the performance of the 2.0-litre petrol four, so it’s best to testdrive one in as many different situations as possible to determine if it meets your needs. Others complain about the fuel economy of all engines, though they have 2000kg2100kg to haul around.
There are a few issues buyers need to be aware of.
The performance of clutches in manual variants can be marginal and we get regular reports of failed clutches at low distances. It’s more of a problem if you’re towing, in which case it would be worth considering installing a heavy-duty clutch.
Numerous CVTs were replaced on early versions of this series (T31) X-Trail because of a bearing that failed under excessive load. If you find one that shimmies and shakes or is noisy, pass it over.
Another issue on several diesel examples has been the failure of the particulate filter, which is expensive to replace.
Earlier T30 series X-Trail diesels had problems with the timing chain tensioner, which could fail causing serious engine damage. To date, this Do you own or have you owned a BMW X5? Share your experience with other Carsguide readers by sending your comments to Graham Smith at [email protected]pond.com or write to Carsguide, PO Box 4245, Sydney, NSW 2010. has not emerged with the T31 engine. Great on-road and pretty good off-road in all but the really hard going.