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  • Hugely practical with clever dual-floor cargo area that\'s also large and completely flat when rear seats folded; plentiful storage; one of the better \'softroaders\' off the bitumen
  • Noisy diesel engine; lethargic off-the-line acceleration; lack of disciplined body control; interior design short of flair; rear seat space not that generous; sunroof limits headroom

OUR RATING
6 / 10



2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
by Jez Spinks

The current, second-generation Nissan X-Trail enters its sixth year of production in 2013, yet remains one of Australia’s most popular SUVs.

At the time of writing this review, in fact, the Japanese soft-roader is battling with the Toyota Prado and Mazda CX-5 to be the best-selling SUV locally for 2012.

With an all-new Nissan X-Trail on the cards and previewed by the Hi-Cross concept at the 2012 Geneva motor show, it’s time to revisit a model that faces a number of newer rivals since we last reviewed it.

Most of the X-Trail’s competitors tend to feature styling that’s more jacked-up-oversized-hatchback than the traditional boxy, rugged 4WD look the Nissan came to market with in 2001 and retained for its replacement in 2007.

Nissan covers the big-hatch-with-SUV-cues market with the Dualis that’s twinned with the X-Trail, though the curvier Hi-Cross suggests a new design direction for the third-generation X-Trail.

The rugged styling isn’t out of keeping, though, because the X-Trail is one of the most robust-feeling vehicles in its medium-SUV segment when it comes to off-roading.

That’s especially true in the TL diesel AWD variant we tested.

Nissan was late bringing an oil-burning X-Trail to Australia, with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel – from alliance partner Renault – arriving in 2008.

2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review

There’s a chunky 360Nm of torque (from 2000rpm) if you go with the standard manual gearbox, losing 40Nm if you opt for the six-speed auto that was fitted to our X-Trail tester.

The strong diesel adds to the X-Trail’s sense of solidity and strength on dirt and gravel roads, with the Nissan feeling more like a proper 4WD than most soft-roaders.

Off-road aids include downhill speed assist, decent approach and departure angles, and a 209mm ground clearance, and the X-Trail’s All Mode 4×4-i system combines sensors and vehicle-angle monitoring to automatically determine whether the propshaft needs to be engaged and send up to 50 per cent to the rear axle.

The 4×4-i dial on the centre console, and below the centre stack, can be rotated to a LOCK position to fix the torque split at 50:50 up to 40km/h, and can be turned in the opposite direction for 2WD for fuel-saving front-wheel drive.

Head back onto bitumen and the Nissan X-Trail’s ride quality doesn’t disintegrate into a jiggly mess like your common off-road-focused 4WD (including its stablemate Pathfinder), but it’s not smooth, either.

The suspension will thump over sharper bumps and joins, as well as generally feeling a little nervous when travelling over lower-quality patches of road.

The X-Trail’s body can move about a lot, leaning noticeably through corners if the driver is pushing on and pitching noticeably under braking. The steering is agreeable, however. Although there’s a lethargic response to initial steering inputs, the leather-wrapped tiller is well weighted and travels from lock to lock smoothly.

2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
2013 Nissan X-Trail Review

The diesel engine feels more at home in the bush, because its refinement falls short for an urban SUV.

The 2.0-litre chugs away at idle before a rattling soundtrack accompanies acceleration. Initial acceleration is also sluggish in the auto version before that strong mid-range starts to make its mark.

It’s simply no match for the quiet, frugal and punchy 2.2-litre turbo diesel found in the rival Mazda CX-5 – which uses 5.7L/100km to the X-Trail’s 7.2L/100km – or the Kia Sportage’s 2.0-litre rival unit.

Neither is the X-Trail’s interior design, which is somewhat plain and unimaginative and with a dash dominated by a chunky but fairly spartan centre stack.

In the TL AWD it at least integrates standard touchscreen satellite navigation, albeit with basic graphics. It’s easy to use, though we’re not sure about the matron-like voice that dishes out directions in a patronising tone.

If you’re after a practical SUV, though, the Nissan X-Trail excels.

Although the front door pockets are narrow they include a moulded section for bottles. Then there are the lidded cupholders at either end of the dashboard, another lidded compartment in the top of the dash, a console bin and an enormous glovebox.

The double cargo floor in the rear is also clever thinking. The lower section includes a pull-out drawer that’s perfect for storing wet swim gear and the like.

Remove the lift-up upper floor and the boot’s capacity increases from 410 to 603 litres. The maximum cargo space enlarges to 1649 litres if you remove the rear headrests, tip the rear bench cushions forward after pulling release straps and fold the split (reclinable) seatbacks completely flat.

The cargo floor also features a grippy surface and is easy to clean, while the boot features pull-out hooks, 12V socket and a cargo blind.

The packaging of the Nissan X-Trail isn’t perfect for a vehicle that stretches beyond 4.6 metres in length.

Rear seat legroom isn’t as generous as some rivals, and the panoramic sunroof standard in the TL AWD limits headroom.

As the more expensive model of the two trims available for diesel X-Trails, the $42,990 TL is loaded with gear.

In addition to the aforementioned sat-nav, sunroof and off-road aids, other equipment includes leather seating, electrically adjustable heated front seats, DVD player, full Bluetooth hook-up, cruise control, front/side/curtain airbags, climate control, keyless entry and start, auto headlights, and a reverse-view camera.

Externally, there are 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED tail-lights and rain-sensing wipers.

You can get into a Nissan X-Trail from just $28,490 (before on-road costs are added) if you’re happy to forgo AWD and a number of features, and trade the turbo diesel for a 102kW/196Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol.

Sitting in the middle of the engine options is a 125kW/226Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol. Both petrols come as standard with a six-speed manual but buyers can pay extra for a CVT auto.

Nearly six years on, then, the Nissan X-Trail remains one of the most practical offerings in the medium-SUV segment.

It’s showing its age, however, in terms of cabin design and diesel engine refinement, while a number of rivals also deliver better on-road manners.


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NISSAN X-TRAIL BREAKDOWN

2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
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Nissan X-Trail Specs

TL (4x4) : T31 MY11 : 2.0L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP AUTOMATIC - DIESEL - 4D WAGON
Car Details
Make
NISSAN
Model
X-TRAIL
Variant
TL (4x4)
Series
T31 MY11
Year
2012
Body Type
4D WAGON
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$19,580 - $22,250
Dealer Retail
$20,810 - $24,750
Dealer Trade
$15,400 - $17,800
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
2.0L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
320Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
110kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
80W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x90mm
Compression Ratio
15.6
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
4x4
Final Drive Ratio
5.798
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
65Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1375
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1785mm
Length
4635mm
Width
1790mm
Ground Clearance
200mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1350  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.6
Front Rim Size
7.0x18
Rear Rim Size
7.0x18
Front Tyres
225/55 R18
Rear Tyres
225/55 R18
Wheel Base
2630
Front Track
1540
Rear Track
1545
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic damper, Shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Hydraulic damper, Shock absorber
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Heated Front Seats, Power front seats, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Holder, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Engine & Transmission
Limited Slip Differential
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker, Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Xenon Headlights
Interior
Leather Upholstery, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin
Japan