Owner Review

2012 Nissan X-Trail ST review

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My Nissan X-Trail ST is great for camping and a surprisingly good tow car. It's also good for MTB riders as the open tailgate makes a great table and shelter for lunches on the ride.

We bought the Series II T31 X-Trail ST new after previously owning a Series I from new. The reason we bought the car was because we needed a family wagon – in fact, at the time it was a toss up between a Commodore Sportwagon and the X-Trail.

In the end the X-Trail won for two reasons. It has more cargo space and it was a full $16,000 cheaper drive-away.

So, firstly the Series 2 comes with alloy wheels on 16-inch rims where as the Series 1 had 15-inch steel wheels. The difference is significant as the ride has deteriorated noticeably as a result over the Series 1. Whereas the Series 1 would feel stable on back roads the Series 2 tends to pitch a lot from left to right. In fact the cruise control will often deactivate as result of this. Something that never happened with the smaller wheeled Series 1.

Fuel economy is also a disappointment for a four cylinder car. Yes I know, it is hauling a lot of mass but really 11 litres per hundred on rural roads is a bit much in this day and age.

Okay, good points – reliable and loads of luggage space. Quirky but appreciated are the A/C cooled drink holders and glove compartment. The slide out tray under the massive luggage area in the back is a great idea and doesn't lift the load height much on this uni-body AWD (some come in 2WD I know).

The seats are supportive and we have done many long trips over several thousand kilometres at a time. Towing a caravan is great and the CVT works particularity well. Unusually, for an AWD in this class it has a two-tonne towing capacity. I have towed rally cars and caravans all over the East Coast through hills and mountains with no issues.

Servicing is all over the shop with Nissan and is one reason I won't get another. Given that Nissan actually owns the factory that produces the CVTs you would be forgiven for thinking that the dealers would be all over how to service them – if you did, you'd be wrong!

The messages coming from the services department are all over the place – some telling you the CVT is sealed for life and is a non-serviceable item whereas just in the next town over they say yes it should be serviced but the oil is like liquid gold and it needs twelve litres of the stuff.

The truth is the CVT can be serviced (or at least should have the fluid changed), and this can be done for less than a third of the price quoted by Nissan (range $400-$600) by a competent mechanic using full synthetic oil made by Nulon or Penrite. If you have one of these, this is the best "modification" you can do for the CVT – it is well worth it.

The CVT immediately becomes quieter and the fuel economy also picks up. So now after 100,000 km of ownership we are looking for a replacement. It is very difficult as there is nothing out there that has the features we have come to like in this car. Space behind the rear seat is smaller in new X-Trail and every other AWD in this category.

The good news is the resale – remember that Commodore I talked about and was considering back in 2012 – well that car is now only worth $8000 as a trade-in. My Nissan is still worth $12,000 – $4,000 more over the life of ownership plus it was $16,000 cheaper at initial purchase. Worth considering with any new purchase!