Apollo Bay in Southwestern Victoria along the Great Ocean Road is a one of the country’s great locations. Combined with the Otway National Park mountains as a backdrop then you really do have one of those must visit locations on hand. Chris Bowen recently found himself piloting the not quite as enticing 2017 Nissan X-Trail. While it was hardly a pulse raising experience, the X-Trail is a worthy vehicle vital to Nissan’s bottom line in this country.

What’s New?

At first glance not much. But it’s the finer details that set the facelifted X-Trail apart from the previous effort. Looks wise most would struggle to pick the changes externally. There’s a new front bumper with a more dramatic, chunkier version of the ‘V-Motion’ grille and redesigned LED daytime running lights. At the rear LED boomerang style taillights now score darkened clear lenses and minor changes to the bumper as well.

On the workbench, it’s still a familiar look and feel however a decent looking flat-bottom steering wheel now greets you, the shifter knob is slightly different and coated in leather and return customers may notice some new door vent trims and a revised centre console and lid.

So up until this stage a picture of the 2017 Nissan X-Trail should sit alongside the word ‘Facelift’ in the dictionary until you get to the technology.

The Tech

The banner under which future advancement for Nissan falls is titled ‘Intelligent Mobility’. This is where the X-Trail catches up to where a car should be in 2017 on a driver assistance and safety front. First up the all-important Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) feature is now standard across the range. Today that is simply just expected to join other typical aids that don’t even get a mention in reviews these days, think airbags, stability control and ABS.

The autonomous features continue but only as you spend some extra coin. Variants include ST, TS, ST-L, Ti and TL. Only the last two score AEB with pedestrian detection that will attempt to stop the car up to 64km/h.

Other variant specific technology includes Intelligent Cruise Control on the Ti grade, Rear Cross Traffic Detection (ST-L, Ti, TL), Adaptive Front Lighting (Ti, TL) and Lane Departure Warning (Ti).


Extra Goodies

An eight speaker BOSE system with two subwoofers is fitted to the Ti and TL grades as is heated steering, heated outboard rear seats and High Beam Assist. They also score what I’ve always found to be a rather uncoordinated manoeuvre to pull off, the kick activated Motion Activated Tailgate.

Although one Nissan boffin showed me a technique that works every time, if you can perfect an AFL style straight punt kick under the rear bumper you’ll have the tailgate swing open every time, hands full of shopping bags and all.

Ins and Outs

Both the 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder 106kW/200Nm and 2.5-litre four-cylinder 126kW/226Nm engines carry-over from the old model. A new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder with 130kW/380Nm is on the way to replacing the old 1.6-litre unit but wasn’t available for testing. All are paired to the Nissan Xtronic CVT gearbox although the ST can be had in a 6-speed manual.

AWD models are restricted to the 2.5-litre petrol engine in ST, ST-L and Ti guise and for the diesel-heads in only the TS. One of the great things about this relatively small SUV is its potential to lug seven souls around, interestingly this is only possible if you choose the ST or ST-L 2.5-litre petrol 2WD.

The Drive

The test loop included a range of narrow logging truck dirt trails, winding tarmac through rainforests and more open countryside with long sweeping bends and straights. My first stint was in the ST base model with the 2.5-litre engine and 2WD. I found it to be a stable, comfortable and almost engaging drive. Throwing an SUV into corners because you’re feeling a little spritely isn’t a good idea, but the X-Trail did handle the odd bit of abuse well. The body pitches around a little and understeer is the first sign of ‘it’s time to drop off’. But the steering is light and easy to predict while the ride is adequately insulated irrespective of the surface.

My next attempt was in the Ti with AWD, a car I found to be markedly more sluggish and a tad heavier than the ST. The engine seemed a little more hesitant and gruff with the always present CVT drone more pronounced. The brakes also felt a little more reluctant, it just didn’t seem as dynamically corporative as the cheaper base. On dirt however it started to make sense to me why people bother with AWD soft off roaders, while our course could have been tackled by a typical sedan that extra traction and ride height does add an extra and worthy layer of security.


How Much?

Not much to see hear if you’re a return buyer, prices are spot on the same in most cases. But if you’re seeking an AWD model, some are now up to $1490 cheaper. Prices start at $27,990 for the ST 2WD manual at $27,990 then ST 2WD CVT $30,490 (5 seats) or $31,990 (7 seats), ST 4WD CVT $32,490, TS 4WD CVT $35,490, ST-L 2WD CVT $36,590 (5 seats) or $38,090 (7 seats), ST-L 4WD CVT $38,59, Ti 4WD CVT $44,290 and the range topper TL 4WD CVT at $47,290.

Fuel economy averages from 8.2l/100km for the 2.0-litre ST manual to 8.3l/100km for the 2.5-litre petrol. The incoming 2.0-litre diesel is said to sip 6.0 or 6.1l/100km depending on grade. I found after various other drivers’ efforts and relatively short stints under my own steam the figure hovered around 8.9l/100km.

EFTM Rubber Stamp

The Nissan X-Trail doesn’t exactly set the SUV segment alight, my main gripes are the continued use of a CVT gearbox and interiors and infotainment systems that don’t quite match Kia, Hyundai and certainly Mazda’s efforts. Having said that look around, there’s no shortage of them on the roads. Being Nissan’s number one selling vehicle for the brand also says a lot, this minor but deceptively important facelift should keep Nissan’s numbers up. I award the Nissan X-Trail the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp of Approval.