You’re looking at the world’s best-selling SUV – the Nissan X-Trail. To be precise, this is the updated version of the car (badged as the Rogue in the US) which sold a remarkable 766,000 units in 2016 alone.
The third generation X-Trail has been around since 2014, so Nissan has decided to give it a mid-life facelift and technical enhancement.
Good timing too, because the automotive world has hardly stood still in the last few years – new models such as the Skoda Kodiaq, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan have been launched, while SUVs in general have been selling like hotcakes.
At first glance the “new” X-Trail doesn’t look that different to the outgoing version. However, the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that it’s had a subtle nosejob and now sports a large example of Nissan’s distinctive signature V-motion grille. There are also new headlamp clusters and LED lights at the rear.
Slightly longer and taller, there are two extra colours available including the rather swish Monarch Orange.
The cabin also benefits from various upgrades and overall it has more of a quality feel – the top spec Tekna model even comes with Bose speakers. Enhancements include a new sportier flat-bottomed steering wheel, which makes entry and exit easier for the driver – there’s also a clearer view of the instruments ahead.
It’s just as spacious as before in the front and back, while heated seats are now available for both front and rear occupants (not the third row).
Seats six and seven are still for very occasional use by children, but fold them down and the boot is now larger than before – up from 550 litres to 565 litres. Total luggage capacity with all seats folded flat increases to 1,996 litres, while the rear tailgate now opens automatically with a kick action below the bumper for those times when your hands are full with shopping, for instance.
Elsewhere, the X-Trail has been brought more up to date with extra safety features such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which warns you when reversing if another vehicle is approaching.
In 2018 Nissan’s ProPILOT technology will also be available and it will be able to control the steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane during heavy traffic congestion and high-speed cruising.
As it is, the X-Trail is well equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard, along with Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Park Assist, Intelligent Around View Monitor and Lane Departure Warning.
Sadly, Nissan hasn’t upgraded the infotainment screen, which is on the small side and features disappointing graphics. There’s still no Apple Carplay or Android Auto, but at least DAB is available.
Priced from £23,385, the engine choice is as before with two diesels and one petrol engine. All diesel units are available as 4x4s or two-wheel drive.
The diesels both have plenty of pulling power and now seem a little more refined. The 1.6-litre dCi 130 will do for most, though the 2.0-litre dCi 177 has more grunt and will tempt off-roaders or those who need to tow.
Economy for the smaller diesel is a claimed 57.6mph, combined with low CO2 emissions of 129g/km (mpg in the early 40s in real world conditions), while the 2.0-litre diesel can return up to 50.4mpg (149g/km CO2). Again, actual fuel economy will be closer to 40mpg.
The 1.6-litre turbo petrol is naturally the smoothest of the engines, but fuel economy fell well short of the claimed 45.6 mpg during our test drive.
The automatic, or XTronic CVT, was not available, but if it’s as good as the system used on the new Koleos, it might be worth considering.
As it is, the manual six-speed transmission is fine, though with a long throw, it’s not exactly sporty like a Mazda CX-5.
The X-Trail handles and steers well with surprisingly little body roll for such a tall SUV. It’s a comfortable cruiser too, and of course the driving position is as commanding as ever.
There’s a bit of road and wind noise at times, but generally it’s a pleasurable experience.
For those living in areas with more challenging driving conditions, the 4×4 version is worth considering. I drove it on a reasonably challenging course and it managed well – it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have a hill descent control.
That said, it will give you peace of mind in floods, ice, snow and mud – if not a hardcore off-road experience like a Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Nissan’s marketing the new X-Trail as the “perfect car for family adventures”. Well, it certainly should be on any mid-sized SUV shortlist and it’s an improvement on the outgoing model, but it’s not perfect.
Verdict: The new Nissan X-Trail has been given a new lease of life with these latest updates. Well built, easy to drive and surprisingly capable, it represents good value for money in a highly competitive sector.
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