Nissan X-Trail 2021 ti (4x4)

2021 Nissan X-Trail launch review

Nissan has delivered an X-Trail facelift to help the model appeal for the next 12 months until the all-new model arrives. The additions improve an already solid offering.
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It’s just over 12 months until we see the all-new Nissan X-Trail; barring any delays of course. In the meantime, Nissan has unveiled a minor update for the 2021 Nissan X-Trail. That update means two things: You can now secure a sharp deal on a run-out model, or you can get your hands on an updated model like the one we’re testing.

The updates aren't huge, either. But they are clever. Let’s take a closer look …

Josh has covered off the pricing details for the facelift in our pricing and specification guide, and here we are testing the Ti variant specifically. The Ti grade is the AWD choice, and starts from $45,965 before on-road costs.

First then, the upgrades. Designed to keep a popular platform as fresh as possible, Nissan has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with digital radio across all X-Trail models. It’s a welcome addition to what was an ageing infotainment platform. All models now get driver fatigue technology, which monitors steering input as well.

Our range-topping Ti launch driver comes with the full suite of Nissan safety technology, and the point must be made, that we’d love that suite to be available across the range. That includes city and highway speed AEB, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and radar cruise control. Ti also has a panoramic sunroof and electric tailgate as standard.

The question then is whether the additions make the X-Trail more worthy of your attention.

For those of you set on the medium SUV segment, the answer is yes. While we’d like the safety suite to be standard across the range, the fact that the Ti we’re testing has it, makes it an attractive option. We tested Apple CarPlay extensively on launch and it worked faultlessly. Likewise, Android Auto, which we didn’t test as extensively, provided a trouble-free connection.

You might think that we pay too much attention to infotainment and what a system has or doesn’t have. The reason we do that is because when you’re driving so many cars back-to-back, the older systems – or the really bad ones – stand out. The X-Trail needed the upgraded connectivity it now has, and it works. That’s the key too, the connection is reliable and clear. Plenty of vehicles now have smartphone connectivity. Not all of them work.

The native satellite navigation also works nicely and is accurate, but I generally prefer a smartphone connection where possible, and Nissan’s is a good one. The 7.0-inch screen isn’t as big as the standard setters in the segment, but you get that 7.0-inch screen across the new X-Trail range, and it’s clear, and easy to use. We found it to be responsive enough to inputs and visible in nearly all light. It's reproduction of your smartphone screen is true to what you expect graphics-wise too.

2021 Nissan X-Trail Ti
Engine2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power and torque126kW @ 6000rpm, 226Nm @ 4400rpm
TransmissionContinuously variable
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Kerb weight1562kg
Fuel claim combined (ADR)8.3L/100km
Fuel use on test7.6-9.6L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)565L/945L
Turning circle11.3m
ANCAP safety rating (year tested)5 stars (tested 2017)
Warranty5 years/unlimited kilometre
Main competitorsToyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V
Price as tested (ex on-road costs)$45,965

The familiar 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine remains, along with a CVT. Keep in mind there is no diesel engine available with this update. The petrol engine makes 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm at 4400rpm. Those outputs, while not eyebrow raising, are enough for what the X-Trail needs to do. The ADR fuel claim on the combined cycle is 8.3L/100km, and on test we used an indicated 9.6L/100km around town, dropping into the mid sevens on the freeway.

The X-Trail has always offered a comfortable and versatile cabin, and that remains the case. The heated seats in our tester were neatly sculpted, comfortable and adjustable through a broad range of driving positions. There’s nothing about the cabin design that stands out as avant-garde or futuristic, but it’s a tried-and-true offering that is well executed and robust. Visibility is excellent from all four main seating positions.

The second row also offers up commodious seating for adults, with proper space for four on longer trips. There’s excellent leg and headroom especially, with the ability to slide, recline or fold the seats making for a versatile space, too. The seat backs are a 60:40 design and what is already a useful cargo space (565L) grows even more smartly when you do fold the seats down (945L). The rear seats in the Ti are heated, and second row occupants get air vents as well.

The electric tailgate is on the tardy side, which isn’t a problem unless it’s either raining heavily, or you’re in a rush to toss something into the boot. A conventional retractable luggage cover keeps valuable out of sight. Overall, though, the X-Trail makes a solid case as a family SUV in terms of space and cabin ergonomics.

Out on the open road, the 2.5-litre engine is more than capable of tackling Australian conditions. It has no issue sitting on highway speeds for prolonged periods, and when you need some punch, either off the mark or when you’re overtaking, it’s got enough in reserve to add some pace. Keep in mind though, that a 60L fuel tank means you'll be stopping more regularly on long country drives.

The CVT doesn’t jar or do anything too nasty that detracts from the cruisy nature of the X-Trail’s drivetrain. It’s all quite composed and easy around town, with enough pedal response to get moving rapidly when you need to. It never feels too urgent or stressed either, which is a negative we often direct at CVTs. While there's always plenty of arguments in the CarAdvice comments section directed at power - or lack thereof specifically - I'd suggest that in the real world, the X-Trail's engine is capable and unflustered.

Interestingly, the ride on 19s – which the Ti has standard – was quite comfortable around town. The 19s might not be our pick for prolonged country or rural driving, where the road surfaces are generally more of a patchwork but they don't present an issue well around town, and the new wheel design looks the part too.

The all-wheel drive system works away beneath the chassis, and even on wet roads as we experienced for part of our testing, the X-Trail always feels planted. An 11.3m turning circle means the X-Trail is pretty much effortless to use around town, and the interior space isn't matched by a portly exterior that feels bulbous or ungainly. The more you drive an X-Trail, the more apparent it is why so many urban buyers in 2021 favour the medium SUV segment.

There’s a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period. The X-Trail gets capped-price servicing, required every 10,000km or 12 months. Service costs range from $240 to $443 for the most expensive across the first five visits to a Nissan service centre, so the scheduling and cost is par for the course in this segment.

Last time we tested the X-Trail, we rated it a solid 7.7 overall, and this updated version is slightly better than that, hence the 7.8 overall. It’s not the best SUV in the medium segment, especially in the face of all-new competition that has moved the game forward.

It is however, a solid, and well-built alternative that is worthy of your consideration. That’s even more the case if cabin space is a concern for you where X-Trail sits alongside CR-V as the most versatile. In that sense, it’s one of the better medium SUVs on the market and I'd have it in my consideration set.

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