2017 Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD Review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The X-Trail is now bigger than ever before and available with a range of engines and in both 2WD and AWD. It remains a crowd favourite for those needing a big family hauler.
2017 Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD
Price $38,090+ORC Warranty three-years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 126kW at 6000rpm Torque 226Nm at 4400rpm Transmission CVT Drive front-wheel drive only Dimensions 4640mm (L): 1820mm (W); 1710mm (H): 2705mm (WB) Turning Circle 11.3m Boot Space 565L (135L with three rows used); 825L seats down (seven seater) Spare space saver (temporary) Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.1L/100km
LAST MONTH (October) the Nissan X-Trail notched up an impressive 200,000 sales in this country since it first launched her in 2001. The current X-Trail arrived here in May this year and while its engines were a carry-over there was plenty of new kit and colours to keep buyers interested.
What is the Nissan X-Trail?
The Nissan X-Trail is considered a medium SUV with our test car, the X-Trail ST-L (seven-seats) sits at the top of the two-wheel drive price range, listing at $38,090+ORC. There’s no seven-seat all-wheel drive variants, with pricing starting at $32,490+ORC for the ST AWD, and $35,490+ORC for the TS AWD diesel variant. Pricing for our seven-seat test car sees it go head-to-head with the Honda CR-V VTi-L at $38,990+ORC. Like the X-Trail, there’s no all-wheel drive variant available with seven seats.
Key changes for the new X-Trail updated earlier in the year are a new front end with integrated fog lamps and bumper based around Nissan’s V-Motion grille as well as new-look headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. Like the front, the rear also gets a new bumper and tweaked combination lights and, on our test car there’s an auto tail-gate with kick to open and close functionality.
The changes to the refreshed X-Trail have helped keep it on-par with the recently launch of the all-new Honda CR-V with a lot more variety in trim, engines and drivetrains available to X-Trail buyers.
What’s the interior like?
The interior of the refreshed X-Trail, like the outside, has copped a tweak or two, including a new D-shaped steering wheel on Ti and TL variants, heated rear seats (again on Ti and TL) and high-beam assist. There’s also a panoramic glass roof on Ti and TL variants. Our seven-seat tester misses out on Nissan’s Divide-N-Hide Cargo System which allows you to customise the boot space.
That said, our test car did get Nissan’s EX Flex Seating System which allows for the third- and second-row seats to fold totally flat into the floor, while the front passenger space can be reclined right back to allow through loading of items up to eight-feet in length. The second-row seats offer 40:20:40 split folding, which all second-row seats should offer because of the flexibility this arrangement affords, with second row seats able to be reclined or slid forwards and aft to either maximise rear seat legroom or free up space for those in the third row.
But, let’s go back to the front of the X-Trail. Climb into the front seat and the space feels big. The front seat itself is comfortable but not overly supportive when the road gets twisty but, given this isn’t the sort of vehicle you’ll be chucking down a twisting road, comfort rather than sideways support is probably more important. And, on that part, the flat and well-cushioned seats proved good on longer drives, over the course of three days I travelled around 600km behind the wheel of the X-Trail and didn’t suffer any discomfort in either my back or my legs. Similarly, the lack of base and side bolstering in the seat means getting in and out is easy.
There’s decent adjustment, up and down, forwards and backwards for the seat (driver’s seat offers eight-way power adjust – passenger gets four-way), and both reach and height adjustment on the steering wheel to ensure that drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. Forwards and side vision is good although the rear three-quarter view isn’t the best because of the slabby C-pillar – vision out the rear window is okay and made infinitely better by the 360-degree surround camera.
Over in the back there’s plenty of room whether you’re hauling kids or adults; my daughter’s booster seat fitted easily although the wide-opening rear doors proved tricky for her to reach out and pull closed without help. There are ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats.
Getting into the third-row is best left to adolescents and even after clambering/falling into the third-row I struggled for foot room, even with the second-row seat pushed as far forward as it would go. That said, foot room aside, the seats are well shaped and there’s plenty of head and shoulder room back there.
The boot offers 135 litres of space if you’re using all three rows or 535 litres if you’re only using two rows. This grows to 825 litres with the second- and third-rows folded down.
The quality of the interior is more utilitarian than premium with hard, scratchy plastic scattered around the cabin as well as some cheap feeling plastics used for the buttons. Nissan has tried to off-set this by wrapping the steering wheel in leather and leather seats and plush carpet in the foot well. While it might not feel quite as special inside the cabin as, say, a Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan, the fit and finish was good with an expectation the harder plastics will stand up to family abuse.
One key area where Nissan needs to do a little more work on the X-Trail is in its infotainment, the system offers the usual Bluetooth and audio streaming with voice control and sat-nav with traffic monitoring, but the whole system feels a little clumsy to use and would be made much better if it also offered Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity.
What’s it like on the road?
Our X-Trail tester gets a carried-over 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 126kW and 226Nm of torque which is mated to a CVT and drinks a claimed combined 8.1L/100km. The X-Trail, unlike some of its key competitors, is happy to run on 91RON fuel and offers a 60-litre tank. Our time with the X-Trail wasn’t a full week (only three very busy days) but we managed to return 8.3L/100km which is close to the claimed consumption.
Now, on-paper, the power and torque might not seem like a lot for a vehicle boasting room for seven people but on the road the X-Trail offered enough performance to keep up with traffic in all driving conditions (around town and highway), overtake when needed and that was with four of us on-board at times. What it would be like with a boot full of luggage I can’t rightly say, but given the sans-luggage performance I’d suggest this thing would be fine.
While some of you might cringe about the fact the X-Trail runs a CVT, you shouldn’t because the CVT in the X-Trail is a pretty good one that gets the most from the engine and with none of the annoying droning noises you normal expect from a CVT. Indeed, if you didn’t know it was a CVT, you could almost be forgiven for thinking it was a conventional automatic; only taking off from a standing start will see the tell-tale CVT rev flaring, but because the cabin is so well insulated you don’t notice the engine or the transmission, just the vehicle’s progress. And that’s what matters most.
The X-Trail isn’t the most dynamic of the medium SUVs but it is comfortable and reasonably agile for such a big machine – it’s honest rather than exciting. If you want something with a spring in its step then you’re best off with something like the CX-5 or VW Tiguan.
Like the engine and, indeed the rest of the car, the X-Trail’s handling has been designed for comfort and that means it feels comfortably soft (or compliant if you’re being more generous) smothering the worst of the road’s imperfections while, at the same time, being able to resist the bulk of body roll when driving around corners. Grip is about average for the class and size of vehicle and, in our brief drive of the X-Trail we did encounter a bit of rain… we didn’t get time to run it across our short gravel loop and that’s mainly because this is a front-drive SUV and while it’s got 170mm of ground clearance and reasonable grip, tackling a fire trail is not really this thing’s, er, thing.
Steering is well matched to the vehicle’s ride and size. There’s decent and consistent weight throughout the wheel’s action and while the feedback is virtually nil, it’s also free of kickback or vibration across rough surfaces.
If you’re planning on spending any time on rough country roads or you live on a rural back block then you’ll likely want to go for the all-wheel drive variant. The 170mm of ground clearance is decent for an SUV and with AWD, you can lock drive at 50:50 front to rear at low speeds.
Braking is good with the pedal offering a nice progressive action meaning it’ll pull up neatly and evenly from high speed without seeing you or your passengers head-butt the dashboard and allow you to creep along riding the brake in crawling traffic.
What about safety features?
The refreshed X-Trail carries over the old car’s five-star ANCAP rating. It gets six airbags, keyless entry and push button start, there’s hill-start assist, traction and stability controls, Trace Control which brakes the inside front wheel if understeer is detected, moving object detection, reversing camera with around view monitor, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. You’ve got to step up again to get autonomous emergency braking and lane departure prevention.
So, what do we think?
In all, the Nissan X-Trail ST-L is a decent family-oriented package which, while it won’t set the style or handling world on fire, goes about its business practically and comfortably (it is a bit of a disappointment that it’s only available with a space saver spare). It’s a better vehicle to drive than its key competitor the Honda CR-V.