Nissan X-Trail SUV review
“The X-Trail is a practical seven-seat SUV, but don’t be fooled by Nissan’s e-Power hybrid tech; it’s not hugely economical”
- Optional all-wheel-drive
- Giant head-up display
- Not the most economical
- Base models lack equipment
- Some cheap trim
Verdict - Is the Nissan X-Trail a good car?
The Nissan X-Trail is a large and practical seven-seat SUV that's a rival to models including the Skoda Kodiaq, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. It's fitted with an innovative hybrid powertrain that makes it feel rather like an EV, because the wheels are powered by electric motors instead of its petrol engine. However, the X-Trail's size and weight mean this isn't a magic bullet for running costs; we found its fuel economy average at best, while it's also not especially company-car driver friendly.
Nissan X-Trail models, specs and alternatives
For years, the Nissan X-Trail has been the largest model in the Japanese brand’s lineup. The latest generation debuted in 2022 and can be configured with either five or seat seats, making it a key competitor for the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorento.
Visually, the new X-Trail is a grand departure from the old car which was beginning to look a bit dated when it was discontinued in 2021. The third-generation model gets a design first debuted by the much smaller Nissan Juke, with a curvy shape and a sleek running light design.
On the inside, the X-Trail gets Nissan’s latest infotainment setup which goes a long way to making the new car feel like a worthy competitor to the tech-focused Hyundai Santa Fe. The overall design of the cabin feels much more chunky and substantial than style-focused rivals, a nod to the fact the X-Trail is one of the handful of cars in the class available with all-wheel-drive.
The most notable feature of the new Nissan X-Trail is its unique e-Power hybrid powertrain which uses the petrol engine to provide energy for the electric motor, rather than to power the wheels – we’ll go into greater detail about this later on in the review. Nissan also offers a more traditional petrol mild-hybrid which is the cheapest way into the X-Trail lineup.
Speaking of which, there are quite a few options to choose from in the Nissan X-Trail range; on top of the two powertrains, buyers must pick from one of five different trim levels: Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+. While standard equipment is generally strong, we’d skip the entry-level Visia as it misses out on crucial kit such as an infotainment system and a reversing camera. All trims attain a five-star Euro NCAP safety.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Nissan X-Trail is now available as a hybrid model, using similar technology to that found in the Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Unlike a more traditional hybrid setup like you’d find in a Toyota Prius, the X-Trail is only ever powered by its electric motors. Its 1.5-litre petrol engine acts as a generator, ensuring there’s always enough energy in the 2.1kWh battery to supply its motors and propel the car forwards. The official results of all this tech are official figures of 48.6mpg with 132g/km of CO2 emissions – slightly down on the Qashqai e-Power, which is unsurprising given the X-Trail’s larger size.
Nissan’s ‘e-Pedal Step’ is also inherited from its EVs, which provides a braking effect when you ease off the accelerator pedal, putting energy into the battery to help improve efficiency. It’s impressive technology, but it does seem rather disappointing that such a lot of hardware can’t cajole the X-Trail e-Power beyond 50mpg.
If you’d rather something a little more traditional, the Nissan X-Trail is also offered with another 1.5-litre petrol engine, this time with 12-volt mild hybrid assistance. It sits as the least-expensive model and is roughly £3,000 cheaper than the equivalent e-Power version. It returns fuel economy figures of up to 40mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 161g/km, depending on specification.
Engines, drive & performance
If you decide on the hybrid powertrain, there’s still the option of front-wheel drive or Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system. The latter adds a second electric motor to the rear axle, increasing power from 201bhp in the standard version to 210bhp. Depending on the version, the benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes between seven and eight seconds. That’s pretty quick for a big family SUV, but the X-Trail never feels quite this nippy in normal driving.
The rear motor has allowed Nissan to pull off some neat tricks, however. With a response 10,000 times faster than a traditional all-wheel drive system, Nissan claims it provides the driver with more control in slippery conditions. For such a larger car, body roll is kept to a minimum on a twisty road, but unfortunately, there isn’t a huge amount of feedback in the steering.
The mild-hybrid model is the least powerful of the range and is only available in front-wheel drive configuration. This utilises another 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, but this time with a smaller 12-volt mild-hybrid electrical system to produce 161bhp. The whole setup is mated to a CVT automatic gearbox, with 0-62mph taking a rather disappointing 9.6 seconds. Because of this, we believe the mild-hybrid is best-suited to driving around town as it’s likely to struggle with overtaking on the motorway.
Interior & comfort
It quickly becomes clear as soon as you step behind the wheel of the new X-Trail that this is a car that’s been designed to travel at a relaxed pace. While the hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains can be a bit thrashy when pushed hard, when cruising they sink into the background nicely.
The Japanese brand has also used several tricks to make the X-Trail more comfortable. A large amount of suspension travel on the springs means the car manages larger bumps and potholes well, while engineers have utilised the car’s regenerative braking feature to improve refinement even further.
Stepping inside, the new X-Trail marks a big improvement over the old car; the expansive 12.3-inch touchscreen is incredibly responsive and is bolstered by a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Perhaps most impressive is the expansive 10.8-inch head-up display which, Nissan claims, is the largest in its class. While we expected it to be a tad intrusive, it was quite the opposite and displayed a lot of useful information such as sat-nav directions and the current speed limit.
Material quality has improved overall, too; nearly everything you touch feels solid. There are a couple of trim pieces that let the X-Trail down though, with the rather naff-looking fake wood on the dashboard making an otherwise pleasant interior feel a bit low-rent.
Another drawback is the lack of equipment on base models. While the kit available in higher-spec cars is impressive, the entry-level Visia doesn’t even get an infotainment system – instead, you just get an old-fashioned radio which is almost unheard of nowadays in this class of SUV.
Practicality & boot space
As standard, the Nissan X-Trail comes with five seats, however, for an extra £1,000 Nissan will fit a third row in the rear. While these two extra seats are really only meant for children (or shorter individuals measuring under 1.6m) they are a great addition and should be useful when in a pinch.
With the third row of seats folded up, the X-Trail’s boot is about the same size as a city car, appropriate for only a few bags of shopping. Fold the rearmost row down and you’ll increase this to 485 litres of space – five-seater cars have slightly more space at 585 litres. With both sets of rear seats down a cavernous 1,424 litres of cargo volume is opened up, making the X-Trail a great load-lugger for larger items.
Reliability & safety
Japanese cars are renowned for their reliability, but while Nissan finished respectably in our 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey – the brand came 15th out of 29 manufacturers – over 20% of owners reported faults with their cars within the first year of ownership. Hopefully, for Nissan’s latest batch of models things will begin to improve as the X-Trail, as well as its smaller sibling the Qashqai, were too new to have featured.
The Nissan X-Trail scored the full five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2021. Family buyers will be particularly impressed to see that both adult and child occupant safety in the X-Trail scored 90% or above. It was also a particularly strong performer in the Safety Assist category with a 95% overall score. As standard, all cars come with a wide raft of safety kit which includes autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and rear parking sensors.