I first reviewed my Nissan X-trail when I had it only for a few months. Now after nearly two years of ownership, I thought it would be good to revisit after many road trips with the family and give an insight to see how its handles the onslaught of three children day to day and on the family holiday.
First of all this is the perfect fit for a family with three children. Its spacious in the rear (with rear air conditioning vents which are essential in summer) and the cargo stows a fantastic amount of gear. We go camping regularly and need the room and a roof box on top. It fits more than you would think without being too enormous on the outside. The next cars I considered up the chain were the Toyota Kluger or Nissan Pathfinder. Not only were they just too big for the carpark test, they were easily $8-15k over the entry level 7 seat X-trail.
Speaking of the 7 seats, don’t kid yourself thinking this is a regular proposition. But for my pre-teens and short trips for adults, these occasional seats have come in to play more than a couple of dozen times ferrying that 4th child around on transport duties. They fold flat and out of sight just like the cargo blind which admittedly doesn’t get used that often but its nice to have.
Where I think this car shines is on the open road. With a standard 2.5L on board, is much better than the 2L found on some of the entry level competition. It is very smooth and quiet, especially compared to the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru I tested. My wife found the Subaru too rigid with its ‘all wheel paws’ and I believe the CX-5 just didn’t have the cargo space (not to mention no 7 seat option). The seats I find extremely comfortable even after 5+ hours of driving and I can attest to their durability. With an onslaught of food, football boots and a myriad of gear stowed, blotches and marks simply wipe off with a damp cloth. The interior is hard wearing but a few scratches and marks have appeared in the cargo area but nothing that is apparent at a glance.
Overall the Nissan X-Trial while certainly no sports car and not the sharpest handler (its a family wagon not a sports car), is more than adequate. I am a huge fan of the CVT combo. As I mentioned in my first review you have to adjust your driving style to get the best out of this type of gear box. Squeeze the trigger, let the engine build revs and its a slingshot. When you plant your foot it holds the gears nicely but too much lead foot and the gearbox simply doesn’t respond exactly like a regular box. My wife still doesn’t have the hang of it as much, but appreciates how smooth the car is to drive.
How is the fuel economy? I think it is excellent when driven in the style described above. On a trip to the snow with 4 on board I averaged 7.4L/ 100km’s. I did better recently on a trip round Dubbo and Blue Mountains recording a best 6.3 on the last leg from Katoomba to North Sydney. Around town as expected its about 10L.
I find the audio and connectivity to be basic but faultless. The ST comes with a standard 5 inch display but more importantly a brilliant smaller display between the wheel which has various functions. Both displays are clear and easy to read in all conditions. I am shocked to read a host of new cars have software glitches with Bluetooth or audio streaming, or worst still the whole system needs rebooting. Not once has this happened to me, once connected – my phone or audio has never failed. I am even a fan of the Pandora function, admittedly a little fiddly to connect with the Nissan connect App, but once up and running its ad free and has all the functionality built in.
I think there are some areas they could improve; The cargo area loading onto the lip of the back bumper is plastic and easily marked with repeated use. Surely Nissan could incorporate a rubberised protector (like on the Subaru Outback) or at least sell as an accessory option. I think an additional USB port would also be useful with so many gadgets needing charging on a road trip.
With the advent of increased competition; the new Hyundai Tucson looks good and the updated Sportage getting rave reviews, Nissan now needs to step up with some more equipment in it’s next upgrade. However for a family with three children and the occasional 7 seat option, matched with its smooth operation, very reasonable price and flexible interior I think the Nissan is the perfect family hauler.