Here’s the compact SUV with the X-factor! Since its launch in 2001, Nissan has sold 50,000 X-Trails in the UK, so the model clearly has that something special. It’s capable on and off the road, and also practical – and with a new car on sale, prices for the original will start to look tempting.
While the Nissan badge ensures solid reliability, it still pays to do your homework, as some owners have had problems with the 2.2-litre dCi diesel. Follow our guide, and you’ll discover what you need to be looking out for.
What to look for
General reliability is good, with the X-Trail’s only genuine weakness being its engines. Diesels provide the best blend of performance and economy, but they can be problematic – so always check that previous owners have maintained the car properly.
Even on dCi diesel variants which have been well cared for, ECU and injector trouble is not unheard of, so check whether the engine idles properly and make sure that it pulls smoothly across the rev range.
Toyota’s RAV4 is the main rival to the Nissan – it came 17th in the Top 100 of Auto Express’s Driver Power 2007 survey, with the X-Trail finishing in 36th place. Also worth looking at is Honda’s previous-generation CR-V, but while it’s reliable, it isn’t cheap to run. If you can get a Land Rover Freelander for the right money, it’s worth a look, but only consider a post-facelift Td4. Older examples are not well built, and the other engines are either too thirsty or weak.
The earliest X-Trails are still worth £5,000, and that’s with 100,000 miles on the clock. At this level, there’s very little difference in value between petrol and diesel versions.
Find another £1,000, and you can pick up a 51-plate X-Trail with 70,000 miles under its belt.
A high-mileage 04-plate 2.2 dCi can be yours for £7,500, but if you pay £10,000, you can have a car with half the mileage. Nissan dealers are still asking £22,000 for the last of the MkI X-Trails – but if you knock a third off this figure, you can snap up a well equipped, nearly new example.
Petrol cars need servicing every 9,000 miles or annually, while for diesels built before January 2005, attention is required at 12,000-mile intervals or once a year. For later oil-burners, add an extra 500 miles between services.
Fresh cambelts aren’t needed, as all engines in the range are chain-driven. But the brake fluid has to be renewed every two years or 25,000 miles, at around £56 a go.
The servicing sequence for petrol cars runs as follows: minor (£215), intermediate (£300), minor (£215), major (£265). However, for diesel X-Trails, the cycle is: minor (£220), intermediate (£290), major (£340).
“It wasn’t expensive to run, either, but it didn’t turn out to be as reliable as I’d hoped. I had turbocharger problems on two occasions, plus some brake issues. When faults did occur, it sometimes took several weeks for the dealer to source the parts – although the service I received was good.”
The X-Trail certainly has a lot to recommend it, but steer clear of poorly specified early models. Nissan realised buyers expected lots of equipment as standard, which is why post-2003 versions are better kitted out. Also check the service history, especially where dCi examples are concerned, because they don’t cope well with neglect.
Even so, a well maintained example of the oil-burner is still the best choice, thanks to the engine’s potency and performance. Keep a close eye on the price you’re paying, too; with the new X-Trail in showrooms, values of the outgoing car are set to soften.
Dec 2003: stalling problems on Jan 1999-Sept 2002 cars.
Jun 2004: timing chain can jam on 2.2 Di up to Dec 2002.
Jun 2006: rusty fuel tank filler neck, Jun 00-Nov 04 cars.
Since launch, the X-Trail has been rated highly. Most recently, it was voted Best Recreational 4x4 in Auto Express’s Used Car Honours 2007 (Issue 954), while it came 36th in the Top 100 of our Driver Power 2007 owner satisfaction survey.