Nissan X-Trail SUV review
"The Nissan X-Trail looks good and drives well, but it can be pricey and could do with a bigger choice of engines"
- Efficient engines
- Spacious inside
- Stylish design
- Technology feels dated
- Limited engine choice
- Seven seats are optional
The Nissan X-Trail, now in its third-generation, is one of the oldest competitors in the mid-size SUV class but it’s stayed competitive thanks to styling updates in 2017 and tweaks to the engine range in 2019. Its main rivals include the Peugeot 5008, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, Skoda Kodiaq and SEAT Tarraco, but the Nissan’s stylish design and off-road competency allow comparisons with more expensive alternatives such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
While the Q5, X3 and Discovery Sport might offer more luxury, they aren’t any more usable or practical than the X-Trail, and they cost around £10,000 more to buy. This makes the Nissan seem like excellent value for money, and the option of seven seats makes it comfortably more flexible than any of those cars too.
Nissan updated the X-Trail’s engine range in the spring of 2019, leaving a petrol and a diesel engine to choose from. An SUV of the X-Trail’s size suits the diesel engine better than the petrol and you get better fuel economy from it too, with the 148bhp 1.7-litre diesel returning up to 47.7mpg in two-wheel-drive form or 45.1mpg with four-wheel drive.
The 1.3-litre petrol engine produces 158bhp while returning up to 38.5mpg. While the diesel will be best for most buyers, the petrol is a good choice if you only expect to use the car for short journeys around town and your annual mileage will be under 12,000 miles. It’s worth bearing in mind that the petrol model isn’t available with four-wheel drive, so those wanting to take the car off road occasionally have even more reason to buy diesel.
The latest X-Trail is a marked improvement on its forebears when it comes to interior design and comfort. Previous models always felt a little utilitarian, but today’s car shows the influence of the popular Nissan Qashqai. There’s loads of space, particularly for those in the front and second rows, while the two optional third-row seats are best reserved for children or small adults.
The boot is a good size; with seven seats, you get 445 litres of luggage room, which increases to 565 litres if you don’t specify the third row. The only letdown inside is that some of the plastics feel rather on the brittle side – they’re not a patch on those in the X-Trail’s rivals. Our test team also complained that the front seats became uncomfortable on longer journeys.
All X-Trail models are well equipped but you have to stretch to the mid-range Acenta Premium trim before sat nav is included. All have Bluetooth, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels and electric windows. Below that, Acenta trim is worth considering too, as it adds automatic lights and wipers, a better stereo, panoramic sunroof, all-round parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, a ‘Smart Vision’ pack, which includes traffic sign recognition, and a leather steering wheel. The Acenta is also a fairly desirable model when it comes to time to sell.
On the road, the Qashqai’s influence continues, as the X-Trail has light, easy steering, comfortable suspension and suffers from minimal wind noise, even at motorway speeds. The car isn’t suited to hard cornering, though: there’s noticeable body lean and enthusiastic drivers will find little reward in driving the car quickly both the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008 are better to drive. All engines have enough power for rural driving, but models with the least powerful diesel are a little sluggish when fully laden – overtaking manoeuvres and joining fast-flowing traffic on motorways certainly can’t be described as effortless.
It’s a shame Nissan has reserved some of the X-Trail’s more advanced safety systems for higher trim levels on the options list, but this didn’t prevent Euro NCAP awarding it the full five stars. Although the X-Trail didn't feature in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK, the mechanically similar Qashqai came 56th out of 100 cars.
From early 2020, Nissan added the option for customers to select ProPilot semi-autonomous technology for X-Trail Tekna models equipped with a CVT automatic gearbox (a gearbox only available with the diesel models). ProPilot is a driver assistance system that helps with steering, acceleration and braking while using motorways.
Overall, the X-Trail makes a great all-round family car, with real utility and the ability to cope on bad roads and poor weather – few owners will need the optional four-wheel drive and the extra costs it brings. The X-Trail offers buyers a usefully bigger alternative to the Qashqai, as well as having the style to compete with more expensive models.