The Nissan X-Trail is a crowd favourite and a name synonymous with SUVs. But at the top end of the range, does the X-Trail represent value for money? Paul Maric finds out.
The Nissan X-Trail is arguably one of the most recognisable badges in Australia. And, although its look and purpose has changed over time, it continues to offer versatility in the medium SUV segment, with size and a fairly solid reputation on its side.
The 2018 Nissan X-Trail TL continues that theme, as the line-up's luxury-focussed five-seat diesel SUV option.
The X-Trail range kicks off from $28,490 (plus on-road costs) for the entry-level five-seat two-wheel-drive petrol ST model, the first petrol all-wheel-drive variant is also called the ST and kicks off from $32,990 (plus on-road costs), while the entry-level all-wheel-drive diesel option starts from $35,990 (plus on-road costs) in TS trim.
Strangely, the only seven-seat options are front-wheel-drive petrol models, with no all-wheel drive or diesel models available with seven seats.
This top-specification all-wheel-drive diesel TL model is priced from $47,790 (plus on-road costs), making it the most expensive model in the X-Trail range. It's price competitive with cars like the Volkswagen Tiguan 110 TDI Adventure, Toyota RAV4 Cruiser, Subaru Forester XT Premium, Mazda CX-5 GT, Kia Sportage GT-Line, Jeep Cherokee Limited, Hyundai Tucson Highlander, Holden Equinox LTZ-V and Ford Escape Titanium.
That price gets you a stack of features, including:
Inside the cabin there's still a premium feel, but it's let down in some areas. The seats are very comfortable and hug the occupants nicely once seated, but things go downhill when you poke around the cabin.
Piano black around the gear shifter surrounds and infotainment system looks a bit cheap and gets dirty quite easily (we don't know why manufacturers persist with piano black finishes). Some of the dashboard surrounds feel a bit low rent, but things improve with soft-touch knee protection around the centre tunnel and the top of the centre console, and a cool-looking steering wheel that sits nicely in the hand and features a flat bottom.
Infotainment comes courtesy of a system that seriously lags behind its competitors in this segment. It measures 7.0 inches and features a touchscreen. The navigation is easy to use, but the graphics are very low rent and leave a lot to be desired. You won't find smartphone connectivity like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto either – a simple feature that would solve the poor functionality of the system.
Nissan does offer a service called NissanConnect that's free for three years, but it's limited to features like Facebook, Twitter, Google search and Trip Advisor.
There's a 360-degree camera too, but again the quality of the graphics is very poor. It's hard to make out anything on the screen, which makes this feature somewhat redundant. It's made worse by the fact there are no front or rear parking sensors.
Gripes with the cameras and infotainment system aside, it has a cracking eight-speaker Bose sound system with DAB+ tuning. It's actually one of the better sound systems in this segment.
Fit and finish around the cabin are good. Aside from some of the cheaper plastics used around the cabin, it's well put together and feels solid.
Leg and head room up front are great, even with the sunroof taking up part of the head space. The second row folds in a 60/40 split-folding fashion, with the centre armrest capable of folding for easy entry to the cargo area.
Leg and head room in the second row are good with ample toe room. Knee room is good, but not great. Cars like the Tiguan and Tucson offer plenty of space for adults, while the X-Trail feels a bit limited with the driver's seat in my regular driving position. I tend to have the driver's seat quite far back, so there would be more room for drivers that have their seat further forwards. The second row is on rails so it can be slid backwards and forwards to offer extra accommodation for the cargo area.
There are rear air vents, but no USB or auxiliary power connectivity. You'll also struggle to fit things into the rear door pockets due to the size of the speaker. To counter that, there are map pockets in the back of the driver and front passenger seats.
Cargo capacity comes in at 565 litres with the second row in position. The second row can fold flat, which expands the space to 945 litres. The cargo area offers clever storage in the form of a sub-floor storage for items you don't want seen from the outside, plus a power foot-operated tailgate.
Under the bonnet of the X-Trail TL is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged-diesel engine that produces 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque. It's mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and sends torque to all four wheels using an on-demand four-wheel-drive system. Nissan claims an average fuel economy figure of 5.3 litres per 100km. We achieved 6.7L/100km on the combined cycle with a mix of city and highway driving.
While it's not a car you'll go rock hopping in, there is 210mm of ground clearance and the driver is able to switch between full-time two-wheel drive, automatic four-wheel-drive activation or a locked four-wheel-drive mode. There's also a hill-descent control module that controls the descent speed of the car when driving down muddy hills or steep embankments.
Turn the X-Trail over and there's a slightly noisy diesel clatter while it idles. It's not as obvious inside the cabin, but it's certainly one of the noisier diesel engines in this segment.
At low speeds the electrically assisted steering offers great levels of feedback and is easy to use for parking and low-speed driving. The ride around the city is also great, despite riding on 55-profile 19-inch alloy wheels.
Where the package is let down is by the engine and transmission combination. Our car had a strange whining noise that came through the cabin when slowing down. It also became quite noisy every time you hit the throttle to get moving.
Its 380Nm of torque is adequate but doesn't set the world on fire – some of the competitors in this segment offer upwards of 400Nm of torque and conventional gearboxes that tend to cope better with diesel engines. While the car is moving, though, torque can be readily accessed easily with peak torque coming on at 2000rpm.
Road and wind noise at highway speeds are good and the ride remains compliant over bumpy sections of country road. It's actually quite a pleasant car to drive once it gets up to speed.
The TL model (despite being the most expensive in the range) misses out on radar cruise control, but has a full suite of active safety gear including low-speed AEB with pedestrian detection.
Nissan offers a three-year, 100,000km warranty with service intervals occurring every 12 months or 10,000km. Service pricing is capped for six years or 120,000km with pricing over three years costing $1172. Over the full six-year capped period, the cost to service the X-Trail is $2548.
The Nissan X-Trail is a good all-rounder, but at this price point it doesn't really deliver value for money. At this price point, cars like the Kia Sportage GT-Line and Hyundai Tucson offer extended warranties and extended infotainment functionality.