Next year, when the new-generation 2021 Nissan X-Trail arrives in Australia, it will have been 20 years since the badge first appeared here.
The line kicked off with the 'T30' X-Trail in 2001, and it was this model that would eventually give fans – because it did indeed have fans – the ammunition to suggest today's X-Trail is not a true X-Trail.
It was never a true off-roader, sharing its platform with a number of small front-wheel-drive Nissan passenger cars, but it proved capable off the beaten path – and Aussies loved it as an alternative to the bigger Patrol and Pathfinder offerings. (And, of course, the 'Pathy' eventually lost its pathfinding credentials too.)
Also, we missed out on a Japan-only X-Trail GT variant powered by the turbocharged SR20 petrol engine found in a number of Nissan's sports models (although this was the late-generation 206kW SR20VET with variable valve lift), because Japan.
NOTE: Each of these models has had a facelift along the way, but you can check out our over-the-years full coverage in our X-Trail showroom.
T30 Nissan X-Trail
T31 Nissan X-Trail
Come 2007, there was a new, second-generation X-Trail – the first generation CarAdvice was around to report on – debuting as a bigger offering with the same boxy styling (which translated for buyers to practical and hard working) and a number of modern improvements.
This model proved compelling for the CarAdvice team of the era, and even though it introduced a CVT automatic transmission (in place of the previous four-speed auto) that disappointed in off-roading applications, its overall capability and value-for-money equation impressed.
T32 Nissan X-Trail
In late 2013, Nissan revealed its step-change X-Trail, launching with an undeniably road-focused design inside and out. We even described its cabin at the time as a relatively premium space – at least, compared with its predecessors.
Its exterior styling brought not quite monumental change – given the X-Trail was only into its third generation by this stage – but the previous iterations had become so ingrained in the buyers' minds that this new athletic look proved jarring for many.
Still, as often happens, the market confirmed again that it does not live on tradition alone, with sales growing over the years to keep the X-Trail toward the top end of its segment. Indeed, 2018 and 2019 proved its best and second-best years on the market in Australia.
T33 (?) Nissan X-Trail
Now, in 2020, we see the new fourth-generation X-Trail. In all the obvious ways, it couldn't seem any bigger a departure from the look of its great, great grandfather – and yet the potential is there.
It looks nearly as boxy – if not in any retro way – and the driving modes are there to give it at least a fighting chance on the barely beaten path.
For more on the new X-Trail, catch our unveiling story here.