Engine / Transmission: 2.5 litre petrol – CVT automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.3L/100km combined.
Price: From $44,490 drive away
In a Nutshell: It’s hard to make a case for this old battleaxe. Bring on its replacement.
Nissan is a company with some absolute crackers in it’s back catalogue: the Datsun 1600, the 240Z, 200SX and 350Z coupes and a whole range of hotrod Skylines, not to mention the Nissan Ute. Unfortunately, the X-Trail is not one of the greats and is really starting to show its age in what is a ruthlessly cut-throat part of the market.
The X-Trail is a huge seller for Nissan and, on paper at least, seems to be a perfectly adequate mid-size SUV. However, in the face of stiff competition from Toyota’s hybrid RAV4 and Mazda’s classy CX-5, the current X-Trail has its work cut out for it.
Many of the criticisms I have for the X-Trail are addressed in the latest ‘Gen 4’ platform already released in the USA. Meanwhile, we will soldier on with the current X-Trail for another year or so yet.
Like the Qashqai, the X-Trail’s little sister (they share the same platform), the X-Trail blends great technology with old skool knobs and buttons. It’s a strange situation, but not necessarily a bad thing once you work your way around the dashboard. I suspect the new model will incorporate many of these buttons into the new 8” touchscreen. As it is, the 7” touchscreen is dated, yet perfectly adequate.
In addition to class leading off-road ability, the Ti spec X-Trail sports auto high beam, adaptive LED headlights, active cruise control, active lane keep assist, motion activated tailgate and heated front AND rear seats. There are no two ways about it, it’s loaded with kit. Despite this, it misses out on what is sure to be class leading levels of equipment found in it’s replacement: wireless Apple CarPlay; wireless charging; 8” touchscreen and 12” digital dashboard and what Nissan calls ProPILOT – an autonomous driving system that can navigate stop-go traffic, freeway driving, freeway exit ramps and detect and adjust to changes in speed limits. It’ll be a game changer in this segment of the market, but we’re going to have to wait for it.
Nissan’s blend of good value and high levels of equipment is impressive. So too is the Ezy-Flex system of adjustable seating and boot configuration.
Not So Impressive:
The software controlling the X-Trail’s CVT transmission really is subpar. Adequate when negotiating the ‘burbs, it jumps and hunts when at freeway speeds, especially so if the terrain is hilly. This is a similar CVT gearbox to that fitted to the slightly smaller Qashqai, however, the lighter Qashqai seems to deal with rolling terrain much more successfully.
Nissan has taken steps to hide the droning nature of CVT technology by programming in distinct ‘gear changes’, mimicking the response one would expect from a traditional automatic gearbox. Unfortunately, the result is rather rapid bevy of ‘gear changes’ that result in engine revs sea-sawing from 2000rpm to 4000rpm. It’s unnecessary and unpleasant.
The Gen 4 X-Trail promises to continue Nissan’s tradition of using CVT technology. I only hope they have worked in more sophisticated software to avoid a similar sensation.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Make sure you take it for a long run in a hilly section of freeway. For me, the way it hunts through the ‘gears’ is a deal-breaker. You might find it perfectly fine.