World’s most popular SUV tested


2018 Nissan X-Trail.Source:Supplied

Worldwide, people buy more Nissan X-Trails than any other SUV on sale today.

So what makes it such a global success? We’re testing the top-spec all-wheel-drive TL diesel model to see how this global bestseller stacks up Down Under.

First impressions

The X-Trail is the Toyota Corolla of SUVs. It’s inoffensive, does most things pretty well and has a loyal following.

Jules: Meaning it’s dull.

Iain: But most buyers love dull. They want practicality, reliability and nothing polarising.

Jules: Successfully catering to the masses then. And I can see why. It looks sharp and modern, Nissan’s a good badge and the X-Trail’s just the right size. Big enough for family and lifestyle equipment, but not hulking and cumbersome.

Iain: Nailed it. X-Trails can look good value too, with a starting price as low as $28,490 for the 2WD petrol ST version.

The Nissan X-Trail is one of the world’s favourite family-haulers.

The Nissan X-Trail is one of the world’s favourite family-haulers.Source:Supplied

Jules: Our blingy bright blue version with chrome galore isn’t that one I take it?

Iain: Not by a long shot. This is the AWD turbo-diesel TL range-topper. A whopping $20,000 more than entry level. It’ll cost more than $50,000 to drive one away.

Jules: Woah. $50k buys plenty of tasty SUV rivals.

Iain: True. Think Hyundai Tucson Highlander, Kia Sportage GT-Line, Mazda CX-5 Akera or VW Tiguan 162TSI Highline all with similar spec. You could even go bigger and bag a Skoda Kodiaq or Peugeot 5008.

The living space

Jules: Very plush and roomy in here with electric leather heated seats, flat-bottomed heated steering wheel and soft-touch leathery dashboard.

Iain: Heated rear seats for the kids too; this is business class X-Trailing.

Jules: For $50,000 you’d want a special cabin and it feels very well finished inside. Honourable mentions to the faux carbon fibre door inserts and soft knee rests in both footwells. Nice touches.

The Nissan X-Trail ST-L score heated front and rear seats. Picture: Supplied.

The Nissan X-Trail ST-L score heated front and rear seats. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied

Iain: Generally it’s good, but a footbrake rather than electric handbrake is antique, plus the infotainment feels a generation old. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the reverse camera is low rent and the 7-inch screen’s smaller than most rivals. Tech-savvy parents expect better these days.

Jules: It’s still got a CD player too, how wonderfully old-school. I loved busting out my 90s CDs for the school run.

Iain: Infotainment may be lagging, but wow, what a sound system. Bose as standard in the TL, and it’s a cracker.

Jules: For the money you get auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, satnav, 360-degree camera and safety kit such as auto emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, moving object detection and lane departure warning.

Iain: Disappointingly though only the top-spec petrol Ti version gets auto lane keep and intelligent cruise control. Not in this pricier diesel though. Weird.

Jules: Radar cruise is pretty common on $50k cars today. Shame not to have it as it’s so useful on the highway and in traffic.

The commute

Iain: Rides comfortably, I saw under 7L/100km on motorways and for a diesel it’s quiet and refined in the cabin. In no way thrilling though.

Jules: As you said, the people want boring, Or to be fair, dependable, smooth and just a nice place to drive for a few hours.

The shopping

Iain: Solidly built for family duties, the boot’s massive with a clever sunken floor if you need even more space.

Jules: You can cram loads in, plus the tailgate opens with the swipe of a foot under the rear bumper.

The Nissan X-Trail TL’s cavernous boot is accessed via a hands-free tailgate.

The Nissan X-Trail TL’s cavernous boot is accessed via a hands-free tailgate.Source:Supplied

Iain: Child in one arm, eight shopping bags and a carton of VB in the other, thank goodness we don’t need to rest that on the roof anymore while hunting for keys.

Jules: But for fifty grand, no parking sensors front or rear. Really? We’re so used to them these days it was a miracle I didn’t reverse into a bollard.

Sunday run

Iain: Erring more to on-road than off-road use, the X-Trail is actually a pretty neat handler. It feels stable in the corners and there’s ample torque from the diesel engine.

Jules: With all-wheel-drive and 210mm ground clearance it’d hunt down some out-there camping spots too.

The Nissan X-Trail is more suited to driving on-road rather than the rough stuff.

The Nissan X-Trail is more suited to driving on-road rather than the rough stuff.Source:Supplied

Iain: There’s still not much joy to the drive though, which I’ll blame in part on the CVT auto gearbox. This X-Trail may shine on the highway, but ask for oomph and it’s first sluggish, then noisily revvy, then lazy once more.

The family

Jules: Top marks here. Huge boot for bikes, the rear doors open wide to strap kids in easily and the children loved the moonroof.

Iain: There’s good visibility too and countless bins and holders to store your stuff. I reckon it was a parent who designed this cabin.

Jules: I thought the X-Trail was seven seats these days though?

Iain: It can be, but in 2WD petrol only, strangely. For the $50k drive-away of this car, I’d really want the versatility of those two extra seats.

The Nissan X-Trail TL is let down by its high price.

The Nissan X-Trail TL is let down by its high price.Source:Supplied

The verdict

Jules: Easy to live with, ideal for families, looks good and quite plush. For the money though, it lacks the X-Factor to make me love it.

Iain: Agreed. I think the X-Trail’s a superb family hauler, but for better value, leave this TL model alone and pick something cheaper from the range. Or there’s a glut of aforementioned talented alternatives to consider.

Nissan X-Trail TL Diesel

Price: $47,990 plus on-roads (expensive but fully loaded)

Warranty/servicing: 3 years/100,000km, $1172 for 3 years/30,000km (below average)

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel, 130kW/380Nm (Decent)

Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, 360-degree camera, auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, moving object detection (very good)

Thirst: 6.1L/100km (very good)

Spare: space saver (not ideal)

Boot: 565L (generous)

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