IT’S been around for 17 years and Nissan’s X-Trail remains one of the front-runners in the grossly overpopulated medium SUV category.
That tells you it’s a pretty decent piece of kit.
It led the market for many years, and now, in its fifth generation, it still figures in the top three of the 20-strong sector.
There are a great many of them on our roads, and if you figure you want one, but don’t want it to look exactly like Joe Blow’s, well, how about an X-Trail N-Sport?
Based on the mid-spec ST-L petrol, the limited edition N-Sport model uses the same 2.5-litre engine and constantly variable transmission (CVT), and you can get it in 2WD at $39,250, or all-wheel drive for $3K extra.
What you get is a choice of four special colours: Diamond Black, Gun Metallic, Brilliant Silver or Ivory Pearl, a set of black alloy wheels an inch bigger than the standard 17-inches, shiny black mirror caps, a body kit with dark metallic front and rear diffuser and black side trim, and a dark chrome grille and black roof rails.
If you pick the Diamond Black shade, it would be a bugger to find parked in a dark street, but the N-Sport pack does make for a nice contrast in the other colours.
For the rest, it’s a regular ST-L, which comes with leather trim, heated front seats, and even more leather on the flat-bottomed steering wheel and the gearshift knob.
Niceties include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, rear privacy glass, dual zone air-conditioning, USB input and Bluetooth, DAB+ digital radio and a six-speaker audio system, and I especially liked the 360-degree camera.
It’s a very reassuring item that lets you see exactly what the world around you looks like.
Called the Intelligent Around-View Monitor, it uses four cameras to give a bird’s eye view, with selectable split-screen close ups of the front, rear, and kerbside, and it also detects moving objects, such as pedestrians with their eyes on their cellphones, near the vehicle.
The N-Sport is a generous five seater, among the most spacious in its class and, the central storage box aside, comes with lots of extra nooks for bottles, cups, chips or whatever people cart around in their vehicles these days, fore and aft.
As well, the second row of seats is mounted on rails, so you can tailor the space for a particular need.
There’s a lot of cargo space too, 565 litres with the back seats occupied, and expandable to 945L with the seats folded flat. The boot floor hides a space-saver spare wheel, and the floor is height-adjustable, in case you end up with something weird from Ikea.
Occupants get a good view from the comfortable interior and the driver is well catered for with good instrumentation and well-placed, clear controls.
Our all-wheel-drive model coped quite admirably with less than lovely road surfaces, despite its bigger wheels, and its 126kW/226Nm powerplant gave good performance and economy.
The vehicle comes with road tyres, but the AWD would be able to get to some remote spots, and there’s a central lockable differential in case things turn ugly.
However, I wouldn’t be too keen to go into the bundu with just a space-saver spare.
Towing capacity is 750kg for an un-braked trailer and 1500kg for one with anchors.
It has a five star safety rating, for what that’s worth, and comes with six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
It’s a pleasant vehicle to drive, with a strong motor and smooth, if an occasionally raucous CVT, an accurate steering, good brakes and suspension.
Official fuel consumption is an average 8.3litres/100km for the AWD, a bit better for the 2WD, and we came close with 8.5 on our city and suburban travels, plus about 200km of country roads. Got to love that.
We found the warranty rather confusing. It seems to be a standard three years, but there’s a five-year offer for a fixed, we assume promotional period, and the availability of extended warranties of 12, 24 or 36 months on top of the standard three years.
Get some clarity from the dealership if the X-Trail ticks your boxes, as it does for a great any people.
One item we did not care for was the foot-operated ‘parking brake.’
Verdict: Tried and trusted, the X-Trail does what most families expect of a SUV. The N-Sport version adds some individuality, and will likely realise a few extra dollars if and when you decide to sell.
- Build quality
- Roomy interior
- Fuel efficiency
- Safety features
- Parking brake
- Confusing warranty