The X-Trail is one of those cars that you could be forgiven for not remembering that it exists. The first version was launched in 2001 with little fanfare, and through the years, the model subsequently faded into the automotive background, barely gaining any attention as it became Nissan’s forgotten child of sorts, at least here anyway, where the market for a big, slightly-more-dirt-biased SUV is morbidly small.
Along the way, the X-Trail went from tough off-roader to a more road-biased machine (didn’t we tell you categorising these things is tricky?). At the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, Nissan unveiled the all-new third-generation X-Trail, which served to remind all of us that, yes, this car is still around.This time round though, Nissan has opted to revamp the car completely in the hopes that it can make a bigger impression on people.
And on the face of it, it looks like it just might have a chance since it’s become even more car like than before. For one, the X-Trail has grown, and evolved from a utilitarian-style off-roader, into a more practical seven-seater family SUV. The overall styling is less chunky, and somewhat more car-like now, being curvier and sleeker than before. The front end especially mimics its Qashqai crossover cousin, which is a pretty decent looker in itself, while the rear bears a more upright SUV style, with hints of the Lexus RX in its taillight treatment, perhaps.
As mentioned, the X-Trail is now a seven-seater, although Nissan admits that the rearmost bench is only really suitable for small children, given that rear legroom is pretty limited back there.
In a sense it does fill the place of the previous Qashqai+2 model in Nissan’s line-up, although if you really want to ferry seven in comfort, you should really consider a full size MPV. Aside from that though, overall interior space is decent for five up, although the portals for the second row are rather tight.
The X-Trail is also pretty well-kitted out for a family SUV too, with stuff such as a panoramic sunroof, all-around view cameras and automatic tailgate all adding to the practicality. The cupholders are even chilled, so that your drinks remain cool on long journeys, which is extremely handy when you’re travelling with the family. So as a car to live with everyday, the X-Trail is more than up to the task.
And that character extends to its drive too, with the X-Trail excelling in the refinement stakes. On the move, the car is supremely quiet, with barely any noise making it into the cabin if you’re trundling along normally. Only when you prod the throttle and want to get a move on does the X-Trail raise any sign of protest, with the 2.0-litre 144bhp engine, along with the CVT gearbox, emanating a noticable whine when pushed. The car is not exactly underpowered by any means, but it lets you know clearly how it wants to be treated, i.e. gently.
Aside from that, the X-Trail is a pretty competent all-rounder to drive, offering a reasonably pliant ride with capable handling. There is some body roll, as is to be expected from a car of this type, but otherwise the X-Trail holds its line well, thanks to its selectable all-wheel-drive system which you can either switch on or off permanently, or leave it to its own devices to determine the best combination of power to send to each wheel pair.
Crossover-type SUVs are now hugely popular in today’s world, and Nissan has been wise to completely revamp the X-Trail to better suit consumer needs. It does have the draw of having a last row of seats, however impractical they actually are, and its all-round refinement is among the best in its class, so perhaps this time round, the X-Trail could leave a greater impression on the public’s mind than its predecessors.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,997cc, 16V, inline 4
Power 144bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 200Nm at 4400rpm
Gearbox Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Top Speed 180km/h
0-100kmh 12.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.5L/100km
Price $149,800 with COE
Also Consider: Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4