- We like...Comfort, go-anywhere ability
- We don't...Cabin is not super-smart
Go-anywhere 4x4 is tough and likeable. But is it talented enough to go top of your buying short-list? Find out here In a world of so-called ‘soft-roaders’, this is the real deal. Where more than a few of its rivals aren’t really built to go crashing through muck and ruts, the X-trail is different. It’s a real toughie, strong and capable enough to clamber rocks and go splashing through the mire.
Although Nissan bangs on about how it uses top-drawer ingredients to lift the X-trail’s cabin, the plastics and fabrics appear strong and durable, but no more. It can’t match key rivals like Land Rover’s Freelander for that car’s rugged style, nor Honda’s CR-V for its kerbside chic.
Instead, it has an honest toughness that we like. This is underscored by its boxy shape that’s easy to see out of, front and back, and relatively simply to nose in and out of parking bays. It also shows in such practical touches as a storage drawer built into the boot and a reversible floor that has tough-looking ribbed plastic on one side, the better to copy with muddy boots or a wet dog.
The boot itself is huge and the rear seats drop easily to form a flat floor, big enough to swallow a fair-sized sofa. And there’s good room for five in the tall cabin, while a huge, openable glass roof on our test car added to the feeling of airy space. You sit high up front, giving an excellent view out over the flat bonnet. Equipment levels are excellent on our Sport Expedition model, including satellite navigation and a rear-view camera to help with parking. It also has climate controlled air conditioning and a three position switch for the transmission, to pick between two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive with a locked diff – for when the going gets seriously muddy. The car also switches itself between two- and four-wheel drive whenever it detects a wheel slipping.
This X-trail also gets an ‘intelligent’ key so that drivers can open the car and fire it up, so long as the ‘key’ is in their pockets.
On the move it’s an easy drive thanks to typically light Nissan steering, shift and brakes: if you stepped into this having previously only driven a supermini, you’d feel at home at the controls. And its 173bhp 2.0 diesel is a smoothie. It clatters when starting from cold but quiets as it warms, giving the heavy car plenty of thrust before settling to a quiet cruise when you venture on to the motorway.
It’s an excellent long-distance car, chewing through M-way miles quietly – there’s not too much wind rustle considering its boxy shape – and riding smoothly and showing excellent body control. The steering is neat and direct, too, good enough to make the car ‘shrink’ around you whenever you’re threading it through town.
We’ve not driven it off-road, but everything about the X-trail, from its generous ground clearance, to its well protected undersides and even its all-conditions tyres tells us that it’ll take you wherever you need it to, not least because that punchy diesel engine packs ample power.
X-trails have been around since 2001, so early petrol-engined ones cost £3000 or less. Good reliability and easy repairs when needed help make them prime used-car buys at all ages and prices. Diesel-engined ones are dearer than petrol ones, though.
New or used, they’re a terrific buy for those who like their cars, Tonka-tough and functional. Whatever you do, though, don’t buy a white one, like our photo car. Ours looked great clean, but scruffy once grubby.
View new and used Nissan X-trails at motors.co.uk
- Engines2.0 D
- 0-60 mph9.9sec
- Insurance groups14
Motors.co.uk value verdict: