Nissan X-TRAIL TS dCi: Mid-sized SUV Test
What we liked:
>> Huge boot
>> Fuel efficiency
>> Comfortable suspension
Not so much:
>> Lethargic engine
>> Dated interior design
>> Lack of convenience features
ON THE ROAD
Of the six softroaders tested here, the Nissan X-TRAIL was the least nimble on regular roads, exhibiting the most body roll. Counteracting its tendency to wallow through corners, however, was the fact the X-TRAIL was arguably the smoothest riding. It was also clearly the most capable offroad, gaining the nickname ‘Patrol Mini’, thanks to its supple suspension and best-on-test ground clearance (209mm).
On the downside, weak high-beam headlight performance made night driving on country roads less than ideal. Engine noise was intrusive (the X-TRAIL's diesel sounding tractor-like) and its gearbox proved lethargic in comparison to rivals. We rated it equal last with the Captiva for responsiveness.
Despite being one of the slowest accelerating vehicles on test, the X-TRAIL won back points by being among the most miserly, with exemplary fuel efficiency (7.3L/100km). It also had the highest rated towing capacity (2000kg braked).
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Nissan X-TRAIL offered a decent dose of kit for its $37,990 pricetag – including 17-inch alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, plus driver aids like anti-lock brakes and stability control.
The problem is not so much what you get for almost $40K, but what you don't get. The X-TRAIL lacked features such as dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, metallic paint and satellite navigation – all of which are standard on the $800-more-expensive Mazda CX-5.
While bang-for-your-buck may be average in terms of standard features, the X-TRAIL makes up for this with its good fuel efficiency, excellent storage and comfort.
FIT AND FINISH
The original X-TRAIL was launched in 2001, with an all-new but similar-looking update arriving in 2008. Four years is half-a-lifetime in automotive model cycles, and this much is plain to see in the Nissan SUV’s dated centre stack, HVAC and console-area design.
The seats are finished in a soft velour material that was much appreciated in the below zero temperatures experienced during the test, but may become bothersome in summer months and in dirty conditions.
Fit and finish wasn't too bad, and the X-TRAIL remained tight and squeak-free on the bumpy offroad tracks that elicited squeaks from the dash of the Skoda Yeti.
The X-TRAIL’s excellent driving position ensured comfort even on long and monotonous stretches of road. With softer seat cushioning than rivals such as the Kia Sportage or Holden Captiva, the X-TRAIL proved one of the more comfortable vehicles.
Visibility fore and aft was best in the group thanks to its boxy design and upright windows. Space utilisation is mostly very good: the boot, for instance, is the largest and deepest in class with 433 litres and it has the widest tailgate opening.
Shopping bag hooks in the cargo bay were a nice touch, as was the tiered boot floor, with handy removable drawers below the false deck. Unfortunately, the false deck design does complicate access to the space-saver spare wheel.
Rear seat accommodation was a mixed bag, with excellent headroom (on par with Skoda Yeti) but the least amount of legroom according to our tallest tester. Width across the rear pew was also below average, our adult-sized testers rating it less-than-ideal for three passengers on longer journeys.
The X-TRAIL incorporates a number of time-saving features, including 3.5mm auxiliary audio and USB ports for digital music players and mobile phones. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity for easy phone pairing, if wires aren’t your thing.
Central locking, electric side mirrors and windows, antilock brakes and stability control all improve the cars usability, as does the easy-to-use cruise control. The X-TRAIL did, however, miss out on some features that a number of rivals were fitted with, including automatic headlights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, and dual-zone climate control.
Satellite navigation would have been nice, too, but for something that is clearly a more rugged and adventurous vehicle than its contemporaries, judges felt the X-TRAIL's integration of technology was more than adequate.
You only have to look at the X-TRAIL's squared-off design to know it's more utilitarian than its rivals. While it may have been the oldest and slowest vehicle on test, the Nissan’s comfort and off-road ability made it a real dark horse.
Price: $38,240 ($38,240 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheels/Tyres: 18x7.0-inch / 225/55
Fuel/CO2: 7.4L/100km / 196g/km
Safety: Four-star (ANCAP) / Six airbags
See how each of the six went in the Mid-sized SUV test:
motoring.com.au's Mid-sized SUV comparison:
>> Holden Captiva
>> Volkswagen Tiguan
>> Kia Sportage
>> Skoda Yeti
>> Mazda CX-5
The award goes to:
>> Mid-sized SUV test: The Verdict
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