Need to know
Is the Nissan X-Trail a seven seater?
Yes, the X-Trail comes with the option of seven seats, but unlike some of its rivals, you do have to pay extra to get them.
Is the X-Trail a 4x4?
If you want it to be. Nissan gives you the option of four-wheel drive but only on the diesel car. It increases the price and reduces fuel economy, but comes with three driving modes. This allows you to choose between permanent and occasional four-wheel drive, or a 2WD setting.
Does the X-Trail come as a hybrid?
Not yet. The X-Trail is due to be replaced in 2020, but the current model was never designed with hybrid power in mind. Still, Nissan is in an engineering alliance with Mitsuibishi, so it’s very likely that the upcoming car will be offered in both plug-in and mild-hybrid specifications.
What is the boot space like?
If you get seven seats, then the boot in the X-Trail is not as generous as you might expect. In fact with a 445-litre capacity, it’s smaller than most rivals’. It does have a handy divider to separate the load bay when carrying smaller items, but in seven seat mode though, it’s tiny.
Can I buy the X-Trail with an automatic transmission?
Yes. In fact, the petrol model comes fitted with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard. If you want a diesel auto, there is the option to add Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with or without four-wheel drive, but it’s far from the smoothest gearbox.
The X-Trail looks almost exactly like the Qashqai, but it’s longer, wider and taller to increase the space inside. They share the same chrome window surrounds, ‘V’ shaped grille and high ride height, and all versions come with LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. It looks good, even in standard form, but pricier models get eye-catching wheels in larger sizes, silver roof rails, a panoramic glass roof and (on the flagship Tekna) full LED headlamps. There are several vibrant colour options, and the usual SUV styling cues, including plastic underbody cladding, chunky bumpers and wide wheel arches with decent ground clearance.
There is quite a big difference between what you’ll find inside your X-Trail depending on the trim you buy. The lowest two grades go without a touchscreen display (now a standard feature on almost all its SUV rivals), and the entry-level Visia looks and feels pretty basic. Upgrade to Acenta spec and you get nicer looking materials, a leather steering wheel, and a full-length panoramic glass roof that helps the cabin feel light and airy. Still, you’ll need to go up another trim if you want sat-nav, and the 7.0-inch touch screen system is far from the best in class. It’s slow to respond to inputs, has poor definition, and no smartphone mirroring. The Tekna gets toys like a 360º parking camera and full leather upholstery, but these luxuries seem odd in a car that feels like it was built for durability, rather than pleasing high quality. On the plus side, the driving position is good, the seats are comfortable on long trips, and all the controls are laid out logically. The seats are fitted theatre style, so even those sat in the third row get a reasonable view. Passenger space is good, but nowhere near class-leading. The panoramic glass roof (standard on all but Visia trim) eats into the headroom, while the third row is cramped, and should only be used for small children, or adults over a short distance.
What to look out for
If you are looking for a used X-Trail, then we’d avoid the old 1.6-litre petrol model, it’s a slow performer and really struggles to get this car’s considerable bulk moving. In fact, unless you don’t plan on many long journeys, we’d stick with the diesel with a manual gearbox. It’s quite frugal, has a lot more low-down grunt, and in front-drive format will return 43mpg. Picking the four-wheel drive version lowers that economy figure by around 5mpg, but also sends its CO2 output to 168g/km, pushing the Nissan into a far higher tax bracket than its 4x4 competitors. The X-Trail is very softly sprung, so it rolls quite a lot through tighter turns, but the squidgy suspension does make for a comfortable ride, unless you pick the trims with 19-inch wheels.
What we think
The Nissan X-Trail is an affordable large SUV that is comfortable to drive and from Acenta onwards, gets a decent amount of standard equipment. It’s not as efficient, practical or slick inside as many of its rivals though, and the limited engine range will put some buyers off.