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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019

Review: The Nissan X-Trail is a sturdy seven-seat SUV perfect for active families

Need a rough and ready seven-seater? The Nissan X-Trail could be the car for you.

Image: Nissan

ONE OF THE world’s best-selling SUVs, the Nissan X-Trail has been given a mild refresh.

On the outside, you might notice (or not) that the Nissan signature ‘V-motion’ grille is now wider than before with a new bumper design with a gloss black finish and there the headlight clusters and DLRs are redesigned. The rear bumper has been tweaked and some chrome has been added and the rear lights are full LED. I told you it was just a ‘mild’ refresh.

Inside, the main updates centre around a lovely new flat-bottomed steering wheel and upgraded infotainment system and new high-grade materials.

Source: Nissan

The X-Trail is very family focused with durable materials, practical storage solutions and plenty of leg and headroom for all onboard.

The X-Trail can be had as a seven-seater – and access to the extra row is easy thanks to the theatre-style folding of the middle row – but the third-row seats are really only suitable for children.

The rear seats are quite high which means passengers have a good view out the windscreen, which is great for reducing motion sickness.

Source: Nissan

The boot is practical too, with its Flexible Luggage Board System allowing for shelves and dividers to be adjusted in any one of nine configurations – including a hidden compartment to keep valuables out of sight. It’s up from 550 litres to 565 litres on the five-seat version with all seats in place, while capacity on seven-seat versions (445 litres) remains unchanged.

Total space with all seats folded flat increases to a very usable 1,996 litres.

Source: Nissan

Every new Nissan X-Trail comes with six airbags as standard, plus driver assistance systems including anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control.

Other standard equipment includes cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-conditioning, electric folding/heated door mirrors and alloy wheels.

From 2018, Nissan’s latest Intelligent Mobility technologies including ProPILOT autonomous drive will also be available. ProPILOT will control the car’s steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane on highways during heavy traffic congestion and high-speed cruising.

Source: Nissan

Nissan has taken the if-it-ain’t-broke approach to the mechanicals of the X-Trail as there are no tweaks here. This means it drives and handles the same as before, which is no bad thing.

The car feels safe with soft handling. The steering feels light and accurate but a bit more weight would be nicer. It is easy enough to manoeuvre around town thanks to the high driving position and decent visibility but it does feel more at home on the open road and motorway.

Source: Nissan

What did impress me were the X-Trails off-road capabilities, something that I hadn’t had a chance to fully test on the previous model. Going up and down the steep dirt tracks of the Austrian Alps was a breeze and the X-Trail felt very capable especially for a seven-seat family haulier. Yes, the body bounced around a bit but the overall experience was controlled and confident.

There was plenty of grip thanks to the All Mode 4×4-i system that lets you select two-wheel drive or ‘auto’ which allows the car to do the thinking for you and sends power to the back wheels when you need traction. You can also select to lock in four-wheel drive.

I tested both the 177hp 2.0-litre diesel – which felt punchy and would be my pick – and the 130hp 1.6-litre, which felt adequate in the unladen test car. Both were mated to a smooth six-speed manual with long throws to aid better fuel economy.

Source: Nissan

I think the X-Trail’s strength lies in the fact that it feels more rugged and tougher than some of its rivals. It feels capable of getting a family off-road for some weekend adventuring, camping, hiking etc. and then back on the road again to do the school run, all in a safe and relatively comfortable fashion.

Picking up a muddy five-a-side team and their filthy kit and equipment won’t be an issue thanks to the added seats, roomy cabin and durable interior. Opt for the leather seats and they can be easily wiped down.

So if you need a rough and ready seven-seater the X-Trail is ideal, but you’ll have to wait until November when it arrives in Irish showrooms. Prices are expected to start at €30,000.

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About the author:

Melanie May  /

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