• 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

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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2013 Nissan X-Trail Review
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  • Hash

    It comes with a cigarette lighter – that’s all you could ask for.

    • Hash

      i hope

  • Robert_hunter1979

    No mention of safety, or lack thereof given its very average frontal offset crash score. Good car otherwise considering its age, but given virtually all it’s competition is 5 stars… NEXT!

  • John of Perth

    I have had the diesel manual TL spec for over four years and its a tireless gutsy vehicle.  However had a ride in a Kia Sportage Platinum today and just wish Kia would offer this vehivle in 4WD manual.  The interior, drivetrain and handling of the Kia though smaller, walks all over the Xtrail.

  • bad news

    Yes time for a new model looks tired and ugly now

    • The Real Wile E

      Yes is going to be called N Trail

    • Zaccy16

      yeah agreed, it is way behind its rivals and has awful handling

      • Hung Low

        In what way is it behind? It rides and steers better than the IX35, has more cargo room than the Tiguan, CX5, Sportage, better off road than a Rav4 and most of the competitors, higher towing capacity than most. The styling is generic off roader and many do not mind that it sits outside the new styling mould for SUV’s.  The Xtrail ticks the boxes in most areas without excelling in any, it is still a decent no frills practical package and its sales figures represents this.

        • Zaccy16

          Most people do no off roading at all, it’s ugly, unrefined, slow, low quality
          And rubbish to drive, I do agree though that it is better than the horrible ix35

          • Karl Sass

            I think you’re missing the point of the car Zaccy. It’s supposed to be practical, with a bit more off road capacity then the competition. I don’t mind the way it looks. Sure, it’s not as sharp dynamically as some of the others, but it’s not low quality. Some people actually use their SUV’s off road but don’t need a Prado etc.

  • MisterZed

    Nissan briefly sold the X-Trail in Canada but it didn’t do well.

    • John

      Um, ok.

    • Canadian X

      I had a 2005 X-Trail SE in Blue in Canada, I, my wife, and my best friend loved it. Nissan Canada only sold it in Canada in 2005 and 2006. The dealer said it created too much competition for their X-terra. Nissan stills sells the X-Trail in Mexico, not Canada, but they don’t sell the X-terra in Mexico! Go figure!

  • Deeps

    Scared of X Traps parked on the sides of the roads behind bushes. Its the favourite vehicle of mobile speed camera operators. 

  • John

     What silly comments. Low quality ? How ridiculous. If it’s that bad you’ve probably not driven the ‘rubbish’ much. I’ve had one for 5 years and can see why it’s one of the popular vehicles of it’s type in Australia. It’s built for a purpose and accomplishes that. And always gets good reviews. Not supposed to be an F1 car.

  • Mthrmouse

    I have a 2006 X-trail with 240K kms on it, it has been inexpensive to maintain.  I wish they still sold them in Canada. Travel 100km each day. This is our nineth Nissan, is there any other products out there?

  • Kasslerchop

    I’m considering buying another X-Trail. I bought one many years ago when they were first released in Aus, I think around 2001 or 2002? I had nothing but problems with it, such as cracked engine mount and a cracked clutch pressure plate. One of the engine cyclinders went oval in shape and it went through an entire sump of oil doing a 400km road trip. This resulted in the engine requiring replacing. And I had a few other smaller issues. I’m in two minds in regards to buying another one, as much I like the practicality of the car, and it ticks most of my boxes, as the same time I’m once bitten twice shy. Since my experience with my first X-Trail, have Nissan improved the quality of the car?

  • Mfor

    The X Trail I owned for a year was the most expensive car I have bought and by far, the worst built. It had clunks, rattles and vibrations which Nissan claimed didn’t exist (under warranty ). The air bag system failed and all the wiring had to be replaced. The windscreen came loose. The CVT was erratic and slow to respond. The interior started separating at joins etc etc. Every time I took it in under warranty Nissan tried to avoid responsibility. Anyone who thinks this is a decent car has never driven a decent car.

  • Team Dazza Racin

    Hi Augustus the X Trail here, Um what can I say, I’m a 2010 manual diesel X Trail, and my owners love me, I was delivered by Ferntree Gully Nissan and they have been awesome. I go like a cut cat, and still deliver great economy.

    I just had a brake upgrade to DBA T2 4×4 rotors (Awesome) Munroe Shocks Great, (wish OME did some for me though).

    I have a Hi Tech Mufflers Cat Back exhaust, Brilliant, made 25% more torque on the dyno, sounds awesome to and yet not loud, this was bought through the online X Trail Shop as were my steel bashplates, I have ARB Intensity LED Flood lights, Spastic light! and I’ve just been fitted with a “Chip My Diesel” pro chip which un-tuned made an extra 25kw on the dyno, with more tuning to come. Put simply I fly and get 6.3L / hundred on most trips, no matter how I’m driven. I’m about to be traded on the last of the great X Trails a 2013 as my owners don’t like the new one, You can find me on the Australian X Trail Forum.

    I go Bracket Racing over the 1/8th mile and I’m very consistent, I love going off road, you’d be surprised where I’ve been, my first trip was to Cape York! I’ve crossed deserts and love getting Muddy! 😉

    Put simply I’m ultra reliable, heaps of fun to drive, (love the looks on sports car owners faces when I leave em at the lights, LOL) and a lot more capable off road than most serious 4x4s, if driven sensibly. I love balancing on two and three wheels, I’m good at it and surprise lots of other 4x4s at how agile I am, and yet so comfy to drive.

    Say G’ Day to ya car for me, and I’m off to Get Muddy 😉

  • Rod

    My 2012, 2WD ,2LITRE,CVVT Xtrail makes a vibrating sound from the rear end of the exhaust pipe at intersections when I place my foot on the brake pedal and the car is in D(DRIVE).Took it back to the dealer and they said all was well,but the noise does not stop and its so annoying.

  • Service man

    Have a 2004 extrail 4×4, over 200,000 km on clock, still in good nick, no problems at all, reason, we look after it, and change oil at every 5000km,oil is cheap, that’s why many drivers have trouble.ask them how often do they service vechicle and they can’t remember !

  • SNB007

    hi can anyone share the Owners Manual of 2014/15 X-trail T31 (clean diesel) please?

Nissan X-Trail Specs

Car Details
TL (4x4)
T31 MY11
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$22,330 - $25,380
Dealer Retail
$23,220 - $27,610
Dealer Trade
$17,600 - $20,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
320Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
110kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1350  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/55 R18
Rear Tyres
225/55 R18
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
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
Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Xenon Headlights
Power Windows
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin