Test Drives

Nissan X-Trail 2017 Review

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Nissan’s X-Trail facelift: New face, same dynamics, more safety – but is it still a good bargain for a seven-seat SUV?

In September this year, we covered the debut of the facelifted Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail SUVs here in Singapore. Having tested the new Qashqai, we found its thorough bank of improvements and keen pricing to be an impressive effort for the mid-sized, East Asian SUV segment.

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Singaporean car buyers seem to agree, if the proliferating numbers of the facelift model seen on our roads are anything to judge by (spotter’s tip: If the LEDs are a single, unbroken line, it’s the new car, if they’re still dotted Christmas-tree style, it’s the old one).

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The seven-seat X-Trail has had a more modest going-over compared to its smaller, five-seat brother, but the basic proposition for both has remained the same: A lot of car for the money.

That’s quite literally true, since the X-Trail is wider, longer and taller than the Qashqai, but most crucially as a seven-seater, it has a 2,705mm wheelbase, compared to the Qashqai’s 2,646mm. With larger overhangs, its almost 30cm longer, at 4,690mm, and roughly 200kg heavier, at 1,646kg.

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The current generation Nissan X-Trail, which debuted in 2014, saw the SUV evolve from a boxy, Land Rover-inspired machine to a dedicated urban jungle commuter.

Like the Qashqai, a larger Nissan badge and ‘V-Motion’ grille feature on the front end – see how the chrome surrounding the badge is now joined directly to the LED light signatures? Again, like the Qashqai, those are now a solid bar of light, compared to the discrete dots of illumination previously, while the rear end sees a wider, square lower bumper in contrast colour.

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If the styling didn’t do it for you before, it’s unlikely to now, but as seven-seaters go, Nissan’s managed to walk the thin line between quotidian and queer well.

Behind the wheel, the experience veers toward the former. The 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated engine and CVT gearbox pull the same duty here as in the Qashqai, although with the X-Trail there’s obviously more work to be done.

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You won’t win any awards for speed, but the drivetrain is tuned to be as inoffensive as possible. Gentle, constant progress is the theme here, an impression supported by the progressive handling. It feels a little dead just off-centre, but weighs up nicely when it counts. To wit, you could drive the X-Trail quickly, but you’d have to put up with the car’s tut-tutting.

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Nissan’s electronic control systems help smooth things out – Intelligent Trace Control, Intelligent Engine Brake and Intelligent Ride Control – and it’s all quite tied together, at least until you get over larger bumps. Like virtually all seven-seaters, the X-Trial exhibits a firm ride quality, so the refinement deteriorates equally with the condition of the road.

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At least with the selectable AWD system where you can choose front-wheel drive or even lock the differential, you have a little more soft-roading capability if it ever comes to it.

In a Singaporean context, that’s not so important – it’s more likely you’ll fill up the car with durians – or the people to eat them – than make the trip up north and brave the plantation trails. At least the AWD capability doesn’t spell for heavy fuel consumption, as it’s quite possible to ease sub-9.0L/100km figures, indeed the relaxed power delivery seems to encourage that too.

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The third row is small, good enough for non-adults on longer journeys, but full-sized folk will feel claustrophobic, as they would in any other rival, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander or Kia Sorento.

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If you pull up the headrests they look like Star Wars robots

An adjustable second-row also gives more leg and headroom than the Qashqai. Carrying fewer people and more stuff scales the boot from a small 135-litres, to 445-litres and finally, 1,900-litres.

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If it sounds like the X-Trail isn’t quite as polished as the Qashqai is, that’s true: It’s the size and space to hold seven that  is the crucial point here and one is literally buying more space with a small trade-off in dynamics.

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In fact, the X-Trail makes up for it with lots of standard equipment – there’s only one trim level, and it packs LED lights, an automatic tailgate, powered front seats, roof rails and a full-length sunroof. Again, like its smaller brother, safety gets a boost (besides the already better-than-standard six-airbags) with autonomous front braking and collision warning.  

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Potential buyers of the X-Trail should keep in mind it packs a good number of the Qashqai’s features, and most importantly, seven seats, while costing only $6,000 more than the Qashqai 2.0 Premium.

While it’s not the most dynamically accomplished SUV around, it still has lots of crossover style, seven seats and more safety for less than $150,000 with COE -and it shows that the X-Trail is in a sweet spot.

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Nissan X-Trail
Engine 1,997cc, 16V, inline 4
Power 144bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 200Nm at 4400rpm
Gearbox CVT
Top Speed 185km/h (estimate)
0-100km/h 12.1 seconds (estimate)
Fuel efficiency 7.9L/100km
CO2 180g/km
Price $148,300 with COE
Agent Tan Chong Motor Sales
Availability Now

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.