The Nissan X-Trail is a medium-sized off-roader which slots in above the hugely popular Qashqai in Nissan’s line up. With the choice between two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models, the X-Trail competes head to head with a number of off-roaders including the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and the Ford Kuga.
Thanks to the option of an additional two seats in the boot, the X-Trail also goes up against seven-seat models such as the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mitsubishi Outlander. Prices start at a reasonable £22,995 for the entry-level model and rise to £31,695.
A CVT automatic gearbox is also available on two-wheel-drive models; this gearbox has no traditional gears, but holds the engine at a set speed when accelerating.
What is it?
The new Nissan X-Trail has moved on from its off-road oriented predecessor to become a comfortable, refined family machine – with a little off-road ability. The square styling of the previous model has been sanded down, while the interior is larger and more luxurious than before.
Only one engine is available – a 1.6-litre diesel – though buyers can choose from a range of equipment levels. Affordable entry-level Visia specification includes six airbags, hill start assist, cruise control and air conditioning along with Bluetooth connectivity and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Acenta trim adds handy front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers and electric folding door mirrors. It also includes a panoramic, electrically opening glass roof, front fog lights and tinted rear windows.
Step up to n-tec trim and you get additional safety equipment, an electrically opening tailgate and colour front, rear and side cameras to make parking in tight spaces easier. A touchscreen sat nav system and digital radio are also standard. Top of the range Tekna versions gain powerful LED headlights, leather upholstery and electric, heated front seats.
What is it like to drive?
Unlike a number of current off-roaders, the X-Trail doesn’t attempt to be engaging to drive. The steering is light and doesn’t give the driver much feedback and the car feels a little cumbersome around corners. However, it’s also not the most comfortable car, failing to isolate occupants from bumps as well as it could.
We found the clutch slightly tricky to modulate too, making it easy to stall the car. Try to counter this with more throttle and the front tyres spin surprisingly easily.
Despite this, the engine isn’t the most punchy; it has sufficient power to get up to speed easily enough, but you’ll need a relatively long distance to overtake safely. Unlike most rivals, the X-Trail is also not available with a more powerful engine, so those who regularly carry heavy loads may be better suited elsewhere. The gear change in the car we tested wasn’t as slick as some rivals either.
Refinement levels are good though. When cruising at motorway speeds the engine is practically inaudible and when driving around town the engine is unobtrusive too. There is a slight delay between pressing the throttle and the car gaining speed however.
What is it like inside?
Nissan has gone to a lot of effort to make the cabin feel high quality and modern, with its clean design. Plush front armrests and comfortable front seats are plus points, as is the useful amount of space for five passengers.
The front seats aren’t particularly supportive around corners though and some of the materials used do look a little cheap, including the chequered dark grey trim in our car. The interior does feel solidly constructed however.
Is it practical?
The X-Trail offers a generous amount of space for passengers across the front two rows of seats. Passengers sit high, though the raised dashboard and bonnet makes it tricky to judge where the front of the car is. Take into account the very large rear pillars and front and rear parking sensors come in very handy on this model.
The nearly flat floor in the middle row means that the car should work well for five passengers, however we found the hard seatbelt mounts and firm seat base were uncomfortable for an adult passenger in the middle seat. Outer rear passengers should have more than enough head and legroom though. The optional rearmost two seats are suitable for children.
The boot is large and comes with a two part floor. These versatile pieces can flip vertically to offer a smaller space for luggage to stop it sliding around the entire boot. There is also an additional storage space under this boot floor. We did find the boot cover tricky to fit however, and the large cover handle dangles in the way when loading the boot. n-tec and Tekna models include a handy automatically opening tailgate.
Should I buy one?
The X-Trail is a sharply styled off-roader which offers strong value in entry-level trim – and a long list of equipment in higher specifications. Claimed fuel economy for manual two-wheel-drive models is strong at 57.6mpg too.
Buyers can choose between a wide range of models as well. However, the one engine option doesn’t offer as much power as most rivals, making for slow progress with a fully loaded car. And while it isn’t the most comfortable model, it’s also not very enjoyable to drive.
If you’re after a good value off-roader with a practical interior and potentially space for seven passengers, the X-Trail could be a good choice. However, if you want a car that is enjoyable to drive or the most comfortable for passengers, you may be better served elsewhere.
Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used Nissan X-Trail in our classifieds here.
Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DCI 130 2WD n-tec
List price: £27,995
Engine: 1.6-litre, four cylinder diesel
Top speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Fuel economy: 49.6mpg (urban), 62.8mpg (extra-urban) 57.6mpg (combined)
Emissions: 129g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested