Nissan X-Trail (2014) Review

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The Nissan X-Trail scored many admirers with its go anywhere, durable look and perceived off-road ability. Add a compliant ride into the mix and space for a family and their regalia and Nissan had an attractive offering in the SUV segment for those wanting something larger than a Qashqai. The new model, released in 2014, has done away with the butch styling in favour of something easier on everyone’s eyes. We spent some time with the new model to see if there’s been some real improvement in the X-Trail.

What’s New?

In essence, not much. The X-Trail is still a capable off-road tool when equipped with four-wheel drive systems, it’s still spacious inside, comes in a seven-seat option and has a comfortable ride. Get down to the nitty gritty and you start to understand the raft of improvements made to the new X-Trail. The car has a touch more ground clearance, but the overall height of the X-Trail is reduced slightly. Nissan has managed to reduce the overall weight of the X-Trail by 90kg while actually building a larger vehicle than before. A 75mm longer wheelbase has improved space inside while the practicality of the interior has been taken a step further.

Engine Lineup

This is a bit of a strange one to wrap my head around as the new X-Trail gets the old X-Trail’s petrol engines. That means a 2-litre and 2.5-litre petrol. The turbodiesel though is the same 1.6-litre unit from the Qashqai. The 1.6-litre felt a little bit laggy up at reef altitude, but proves its worth at the pumps as it is impressively economical over a tank.

We averaged 6L/100km in the four-wheel drive variant of the diesel. Power for the diesel is 96 kW and 320 Nm of torque and it’s the torque that you rely on to keep the X-Trail moving quickly and at low revs. We also had the entry level 2-litre petrol with 106 kW and 200 Nm of torque, but while it did the job of ferrying one or two passengers, it starts to struggle with bigger loads. That said the manual six-speed gearbox is a light shifter and particularly easy to get in and out of gear.

Interior

Seven seats are optional on the X-Trail as you’d expect from a large SUV and the rear row of seats are reasonably comfortable, but you only really want to be sending small children to those seats. The boot is quite large at 550-litres and with the seats folded down that increases to 1405-litres. Standard equipment is actually pretty low on the base model with cloth seats and a basic radio interface.

It’s a no-frills setup, but at least they haven’t skimped on safety as the entry 2-litre still comes ABS, traction control, airbags everywhere and hill start assist. What’s a bit annoying is that you can’t even spec the nice Techno pack on the entry level that would add some nice touches like a seven-inch touchscreen, all-round cameras, NissanConnect apps, lane departure warning and some heated door mirrors. Thankfully you can have the Techno pack on the more expensive models.

Ride and Drive

The Nissan X-Trail still has an extremely comfortable ride, it’s cushioned over bumps and soaks up dirt roads with aplomb. It’s the best feature on this new X-Trail. The X-Trail’s steering feels communicative and does a good job over the rougher stuff of being nice and light. On the road it’s still nicely weighted and inspires confidence on freeways that you have total control, even in a 50kph Cape wind. The X-Trail doesn’t lean terribly when cornering sharply, but it’s not particularly sporty and I’m okay with that. It’s a family vehicle that’s comfortable and capable.

Verdict

The new X-Trail improves on the previous generation’s formula. It rides comfortably, is spacious and practical, and can cope with a bit of rough terrain thrown its direction. Nissan has also managed to keep the price down quite well so that it’s not too much more than a Qashqai, that does mean that the entry level models are quite bare though. Nissan say that turbocharged petrol engines may be coming in the new year and that would help with the lack of torque on the current ones as well as making them a bit more powerful. For now though, the X-Trail is a good choice of SUV for the family that wants a bit of everything.

Second Opinion

I feel the Nissan X-Trail is in a spot of bother. While it does most things okay, it doesn't do anything really well. A jack of all trades and a master of none. Worryingly, I think its biggest threat is going to come from its Nissan Qashqai sibling, which I think is excellent. So if you're not needing a big boot or seven seats, then it'd be a better bet to consider the smaller of the two Nissan SUVs. - David Taylor

Nissan X-Trail Price in South Africa

The range starts at an impressive R327 700 for the 2-litre petrol and rises to R473 600 for the four-wheel drive top spec 1.6-litre turbodiesel.

We like: . Interior space and practicality . A soft-roader that has off road talent . Keen pricing

We Don't Like: . A bit scant on features . Petrol engines . No rear parking sensors

Also Consider: Hyundai Santa Fe Honda CR-V Toyota RAV4

Compare the X-Trail against the CR-V and the RAV4 here

Nissan X-Trail 2.0 Quick Specs

Engine 2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Power 106 kW
Torque 200 Nm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Wheels 17-inch Alloys
0-100 km/h 11.1 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy 8.3-litres/100km
Fuel Tank 60 L

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