Nissan X-Trail SUV
Price £21,995 - £32,780
- Stylish design
- Seven seats are an optional extra
- Key optional extras add up
- Limited engine choice
At a glance
“The Nissan X-Trail looks and drives like a large Qashqai, and that’s a compliment.”
The Nissan X-Trail is a mid-size SUV that competes with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4. It also – depending on your priorities – makes a compelling alternative to premium SUVs like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Range Rover Evoque. Those models are roughly the same size as the X-Trail and, while they’re all more enjoyable to drive, they cost £10,000 or so more than the Nissan. None is available with seven seats, either, which is a £1,000 upgrade for X-Trail customers.
Picking an X-Trail engine is easy, as there are only two options. The petrol is a 161bhp 1.6-litre, which gets the car from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, returns 45.6mpg and emits 145g/km of CO2, making road tax £145 a year. Company-car drivers will be liable for a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rate of 26% if they choose the petrol.
The diesel is also a 1.6-litre engine, producing 128bhp and taking 10.5 seconds to go from 0-62mph. As is almost universally the case, the diesel is more expensive to buy than the petrol (by about £1,800), but it's cheaper to run; it returns 57.9mpg and CO2 emissions are 129g/km, making road tax £110 annually and the BiK rate 25%. Note that the 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to the top two trim levels dent economy by about 2mpg with both engines, and push the diesel into the next road tax and BiK brackets.
Neither engine's performance and economy figures are outrageous, but they could hardly be called outstanding, either. Still, given the X-Trail's size, price and general competence, it's easy to overlook its somewhat underwhelming engines.
The old X-Trail was a bit of a beast. It was tough as old boots and hugely practical, but it never quite shook off a faint whiff of the farmyard – great if you wanted a car that prioritised utility over comfort, not so good for families. The latest X-Trail was launched in 2014 and marked a significant departure from the outgoing model. Nissan's designers drew inspiration from the Qashqai – itself a runaway sales success – to the extent that if you’ve nothing to give you scale, you could easily confuse the X-Trail with its smaller sister model.
On the road, the Qashqai's influence continues, as the X-Trail has light, easy steering, comfortable suspension and minimal wind noise, even at motorway speeds. Keen drivers should look elsewhere thanks to the noticeable body lean that develops when cornering, but the majority of families will welcome Nissan's decision to prioritise ease of use over outright thrills. There's sufficient power for most types of driving, but an X-Trail with seven occupants and their luggage requires plenty of planning should you wish to overtake, and patience when joining motorways.
The X-Trail gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a CVT automatic a £450 option. We’d avoid this if you can, though, as it's not hugely pleasant to use. Four-wheel drive is a £1,450 option with the diesel engine and a manual gearbox, and though most X-Trail drivers are unlikely to venture off-road frequently, those living in areas prone to inclement weather may welcome the extra grip.
The four-wheel-drive system dents economy by around four mpg and pushes road tax up to the next band, but it offers three useful modes: one keeps the car in two-wheel-drive setup, one switches into four-wheel drive if it detects a loss of grip, while the third mode makes the X-Trail fully four-wheel drive.
Inside, the X-Trail majors on space. Front and second-row passengers get a huge amount of head and legroom, and while the two third-row seats are best reserved for small children, they’re an option many will welcome. The boot is large, at 550 litres, although this does reduce by 100 litres or so if you specify the extra two seats, as when folded they make the boot's floor slightly higher. The front seats, meanwhile, can become a little uncomfortable on long journeys and some of the interior plastics could be a little softer to the touch. These two caveats aside, the X-Trail impresses inside.
Nissan offers the X-Trail in four trim levels. Entry-level Visia cars are reasonably (if not hugely) equipped, with LED running lights, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, a five-inch infotainment touchscreen, all-round electric windows and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrading to Acenta trim costs a punchy £2,000 or so and adds extra speakers for the stereo, tinted rear windows, automatic lights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, all-round parking sensors and a leather steering wheel.
The next trim is n-tec, which adds keyless entry and go, extra safety equipment (like autonomous emergency braking), a 360-degree parking camera, an upgraded seven-inch infotainment system, complete with sat nav and DAB radio, 19-inch alloy wheels and a power-operated boot – all for a not-insignificant £2,500.
Tekna tops the range and costs a further £2,000. For this you get, well, everything really: heated and power-adjustable leather seats, a clever self-parking feature (which you may or may not use), full LED headlights and yet more safety equipment, including a blind-spot monitoring system.
If you’re willing to take the financial hit Acenta trim requires, we suggest you do. Visia cars can be a little harder to sell on the secondhand market, while the panoramic sunroof featured on Acenta and above floods the interior with light without denting headroom too much.
It's a shame Nissan has reserved some of the X-Trail's more advanced safety systems for higher trim levels or the options list, but Euro NCAP awarded it the full five stars in its crash-worthiness assessment nonetheless. Reliability is more of an unknown: the X-Trail didn’t feature in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, while Nissan came 28th out of 32 carmakers, with build quality one particular area of disappointment.
The Nissan X-Trail diesel engine does well to achieve reasonable economy and emissions in such a large car
It doesn’t offer boundless performance, but the Nissan X-Trail makes good use of what it has
Nowhere does the new Nissan X-Trail demonstrate how much it’s changed from the previous model than inside
With a seats-up capacity of 550 litres and a seats-down figure of 1,982 litres, the Nissan X-Trail has a huge boot
Even owners of the most basic Nissan X-Trail can rest assured they have some of the most sophisticated safety technology