What is it?
An ageing effort that offers a bit more than first impressions might suggest. The X-Trail isn’t particularly special or exciting, it just does what it does very well indeed. The engineering feels solid enough and it’ll happily get its wheels grubby should you wish to depart from civilised roads. But it is now rather old and seems a bit unloved now Nissan has moved its attention to newer, shinier stuff such as the Qashqai and Juke. Shame, there’s life in this old dog yet.
It’s a predictable story on board. Dive headlong into open roads and, in standard two-wheel drive setting, the X-Trail nudges towards natural and controllable understeer. ‘Auto 4WD’ mode engages more wheels and anti-slip trickery for improved grip in greasy conditions, so it’s largely sure-footed. Despite the meaty underpinnings and robust suspension, the X-Trail rides quite smoothly, soaking up the bumps and remaining largely free of the lollopy body roll that can upset cars of this size.
Overall it’s refined enough, but could do with a little more polish, if only to stop wind noise creeping into the cabin (though that’s probably due to its un- aerodynamic box face). There’s a pair of diesel engines, which have improved the X-Trail’s performance stats compared to the last model, but they still don’t break 45mpg and therefore lag slightly behind cleaner rivals. They’re both 2.2-litres but one eeks out an extra 23bhp – 150 versus 173bhp – which is well worth the extra investment, because it’s also more efficient.
On the inside
Nissan isn’t trying to fool anyone that the X-Trail is a premium SUV, and it’s all quite basic in here. Having said that, it’s put together well and able to endure more punishment than some plusher, lifestyle rivals. Its square silhouette won’t win any design awards, but the flipside is lots of space inside. There’s generous headroom and places to put stuff, including two sizeable compartments under secret trapdoors in the boot floor. Acenta trim gives you the right kit at the right money.
You shouldn’t have too many reliability foibles – the X-Trail feels as robust as it looks. But for a mid-size diesel SUV running costs are worryingly high, and beaten by middleweight opposition in the shape of the Ford Kuga and VW Tiguan. And it’s not just the fuel economy you should keep an eye on, it’s the CO2 output, which dictates what tax band it slots into. For the 150bhp version it’s 188g/km, which means a £250-a-year outlay for the disc in the window. And it’s not like you’ll recoup big chunks of that at the pumps, either.