Nissan X-Trail: softer-styled SUV here in mid 2014

The all-new Nissan X-Trail has been spied undergoing hot-weather testing in Death Valley, California ahead of its anticipated unveiling in the coming months and local launch in mid 2014.

While the prototype's body panels are camouflaged by heavy plastic cladding, a lighter wrap at the front and rear gives us a detailed look at the lights, bumpers and radiator grille of the third-generation X-Trail.

As a series of patent images revealed last month, the new Nissan X-Trail draws inspiration from the Nissan Hi-Cross concept that debuted at last year’s Geneva motor show.

Nissan X-Trail 2

Trading its traditional boxy body for softer crossover styling, the new X-Trail features thin, angular headlights integrated into a slim version of Nissan’s signature three-piece grille.

Contoured door panels and a rising window line replace the current car’s slab-sided, square lines, while pillar-mounted tail-lights make way for horizontal lights spanning the tailgate and rear quarter panels.

At 4660mm long, 1850mm wide and 1670mm tall, the Nissan Hi-Cross concept is 25mm longer, 60mm wider and 30mm lower than the second-gen X-Trail, and features seven seats rather than the standard five of the current car, hinting at an upgrade for the new-gen model.

Nissan X-Trail 6

For the first time, Nissan is expected to offer the new X-Trail with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain in addition to its conventional petrol and diesel options.

Reports suggest the new X-Trail will be unveiled later this year, potentially at September’s Frankfurt motor show or November’s Los Angeles auto show, ahead of its early 2014 launch.

The third-generation Nissan X-Trail will continue the Japanese manufacturer’s refresh of its SUV line-up, arriving in local showrooms roughly six months after the all-new Pathfinder and a little more than a year after the new Patrol.

Nissan X-Trail 7