Nissan X-Trail review
The revised Nissan X-Trail is an attractive buy. It offers decent off-road capability in a dynamic and practical package
The Nissan X-Trail is something of an unsung hero in the compact 4x4 market. The boxy lines make it hugely practical, yet in terms of dynamics, the X-Trail has great on-road manners, so it's competitive when compared to rivals. It feels less agricultural than a Land Rover Freelander both inside and out, with a luxurious but practical cabin. The X-Trail represents great value, too, with bags of standard kit and strong residuals. If you need a dependable but enjoyable SUV, then the X-Trail shouldn’t disappoint.
Our choice: X-Trail 2.0 dCi (171) Sport
In terms of looks, the Nissan X-Trail has remained largely unchanged since its launch in 2001, although it received a light update in 2007. It's a winning formula and has seen Nissan thrive in the SUV market alongside established rivals like the Land Rover Freelander and Honda CR-V. The rugged styling hints at the X-Trail’s capabilities, and the chunky bumpers and dark plastic scuff plates make you immediately aware that this SUV is as at home off-road, as it is on. Inside, the X-Trail has ditched the cheap, utilitarian feel in favour of a more upmarket setup. However, the dash does look a little awkward, with the centrally mounted screen on top-spec models looking like a botched aftermarket accessory.
There's only a single engine option for the X-Trail, a 2.0 dCi diesel, but it comes with two power outputs – 148bhp or 171bhp. Delivery from the standard six-speed manual is smooth, but the ride is firm, with road noise becoming particularly intrusive at motorway speeds. However, the harsh set-up benefits the X-Trail in the bends, feeling more connected than the agricultural Land Rover Freelander. So long as you are prepared to work the manual ‘box, the X-Trail can be quite an entertaining drive – it has an appetite for revs and thrives as you let them build. Stopping, however, isn’t the Nissan’s strong point – taking 62.6 metres to reach a halt from 70mph – a full ten metres longer than the larger Kia Sorento.
In terms of safety, the X-Trail gets front, side and curtain airbags across the range, with ESC as standard. Drivers can switch between two and four-wheel-drive at the touch of a button, giving confidence in adverse weather or on uneven ground. Perhaps surprisingly, the Nissan only manages four stars for occupant safety in the Euro NCAP crash tests, putting it on a par with the Toyota RAV4 but behind the Land Rover Freelander - which boasts a maximum five stars. That’s not to say owners aren’t a satisfied bunch, Nissan has always had an above average reliability record, and the X-Trail SUV is no exception. It placed an impressive ninth in our Driver Power survey.
The Nissan X-Trail scores highly in terms of practicality. It boasts 193-litres more boot space than the car it replaces, making the 603-litre, wipe-clean load area, more comparable to that in a Land Rover Freelander. Although it isn’t as physically large as the Freelander, the space is versatile and the configuration options are useful. Fold the seats and the X-Trail opens up, offering a huge 1,773 litres, which is more than 100 litres more than you'd find in a Freelander. Rear legroom is good and cabin storage impressive – there is a huge glovebox and plenty of cubbyholes. The package is topped off with a comfortable driving position with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment – meaning long journeys in the X-Trail are a pleasure rather than a chore.
The 171bhp X-Trail scores similarly to its rivals in terms of economy. It does 44.1mpg on the combined cycle, beating the Honda CR-V (43.5mpg) but falling short just of the Land Rover Freelander (45.6mpg) and Toyota RAV4 (47.1mpg). However, the X-Trail does represent good value, undercutting the other three in terms of initial outlay. Kit levels are impressive across the range, with the best-selling Sport including a full-length sunroof, CD changer and Bluetooth preparation as standard. What’s more, residuals are good, meaning the Nissan is an appealing package whether you buy new or used.