Nissan X-Trail (2014-2017) Review
The Nissan X-Trail is a big practical family SUV that’s available with seven seats. Its interior is pretty boring, however, and it’s not fun to drive
What's not so good
Nissan X-Trail (2014-2017): what would you like to read next?
The Nissan X-Trail is a large family car that can come with either five or seven seats. It was introduced in 2013 and updated in 2017 with different bumpers and new LED headlights. Its slightly remodelled interior is now a touch roomier, too.
Inside, everything is still sensibly laid out and easy to use. The X-Trail’s controls feel solid and sturdy and most of its plastics are soft and forgiving. A few brittle materials let the side down slightly but they’re mostly confined to the back seats and rear doors. Only top-spec Tekna versions come with leather seats as standard.
N-Vision models and above get a slick seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation as standard. It comes with handy shortcut buttons that help make it easy to use on the move but it still lacks any modern smartphone mirroring systems.
It’s easy to get comfy in the front whichever model you pick, thanks to the standard seat height adjustment and loads of headroom – although the panoramic glass roof you get with Acenta, N-Vision and Tekna models does reduce headroom slightly. There’s enough room for tall adults to get comfy in the sliding middle row of seats, too – although carrying three abreast is a tighter squeeze than in a Skoda Kodiaq.
If you need space for more passengers, you can get two extra seats as a £1,000 option, turning the X-Trail into a seven seater – but this rear row is only really big enough for kids and eats considerably into the available boot space.
With just five seats in place there’s more than enough space for a baby stroller and some large soft bags. With the back seats folded in a handy two-way (60:40) split there’s enough room for a few bikes, too – you don’t even have to remove their wheels.
Driving The X-Trail’s not exactly fun – but does that really matter when it’s as big as a removals van and has space for seven?
You can get the X-Trail with one petrol and two diesel engines. The 1.6-litre petrol – that’ll return 35mpg in normal driving compared to Nissan’s claimed 45mpg – is best for pottering around town while the slightly noisier 1.6-litre diesel will be more suitable if you do lots of motorway miles. It’ll return around 45mpg in real-world conditions, but feels lethargic.
Avoid four-wheel drive versions if you want to maximise fuel economy – it’s only worth going for if you often drive on slippery roads or tow a trailer. It also best to give the optional CVT automatic gearbox a miss because it holds the engine at high revs when you accelerate hard and feels a little dim-witted around town.
As a family car, though, there’s not much else to put you off X-Trail ownership. Euro NCAP awarded it a five-star safety rating in 2014, which is impressive even though tests have become stricter since. Acenta models and above come with bundles of extra safety kit including automatic emergency braking that can stop the car if a collision is imminent.
The X-Trail is just as comfortable cruising on motorways as it is pottering about town. It’s not quite as frugal as some more modern family SUVs, however
It’s dead easy to drive but the X-Trail’s annoying automatic gearbox makes the engine drone like a dentist’s drill when you accelerate
You can get the X-Trail with one petrol and two diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. Diesel versions are available with four-wheel drive, too.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol’s best if you spend most time pottering around town. It’s quieter and smoother than the diesels and costs less to buy, too. Nissan claims it’ll return 45.6mpg but expect to see around 35mpg in real-world driving.
One of the diesels will be more suitable if you regularly cruise up and down motorways. The 163hp 1.6-litre model has enough grunt to keep up with fast moving traffic – even with lots of passengers on board – and returns around 45mpg in the real world compared to Nissan’s claimed 55mpg.
The more powerful 177hp 2.0-litre diesel has more grunt but has the same 2,000kg towing limit as the smaller diesel when fitted with a manual gearbox.
The X-Trail’s raised driving position gives you a good view out over the road ahead. Unfortunately, its large wing mirrors create awkward blind spots at junctions and the thick rear pillars (where the doors meet the roof) limit rear visibility, too.
Thankfully, all but entry-level Visia models come with front and rear parking sensors. Mid-range N-Vision versions and above come with a handy 360-degree camera system, too, which displays a bird’s-eye view of your car and its surroundings on the central infotainment screen. It makes it easier to avoid kerbing your wheels than sticking your head out the window. Top-spec Tekna versions even come with an automatic parking system that’ll steer for you into both bay and parallel parking spaces – all you have to do is accelerate and brake while the car twiddles the steering wheel.
The X-Trail’s soft suspension helps it take rutted roads in its stride. It’s just as comfortable around town as it is on the motorway and only starts to wallow slightly if you hit a particularly monstrous pothole. Top spec models have 19-inch alloy wheels that look great but send jolts through the cabin over smaller bumps – you’re better off saving some cash and stick to the smaller 17-inch wheels.
You’ll hear a little more wind noise on the motorway than in a Skoda Kodiaq but the X-Trail’s a little quieter than the likes of the Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe. Its light controls help make long journeys pretty stress-free, too.
Less relaxing is its tendency to lean in tight corners. It’s not particularly noticeable from the front seats but your passengers in the back may start to feel a little car sick after a few miles on winding country roads. It’ll head down A-roads at a steady pace, but you’ll have no desire to drive it any faster than that.
At the end of the day, it’s a family car so the X-Trail’s five-star Euro NCAP award is more relevant than its cornering prowess. It’s worth noting that the tests have been made significantly stricter since 2014, so for a little extra peace of mind, pick an Acenta model or above. They come with automatic emergency braking – that’ll apply the brakes to prevent a collision if it detects an obstacle in your path – lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition as standard.
There’s ample space in the X-Trail for adults and its boot is pretty spacious, too. It’s not terribly stylish, however…