The X-Trail is just as comfortable cruising on motorways as it is pottering about town. It’s not quite as frugal as some alternative family SUVs, however
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 also available with four-wheel drive.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol’s best if you spend most time pottering around town. It’s much 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.
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
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 is a little faster 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 thick rear pillars (where the doors meet the roof) limit rear visibility.
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 itself.
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 sticking to the smaller 17 or 18-inch wheels and saving some cash.
You’ll hear a more wind noise on the motorway than in a Skoda Kodiaq but the X-Trail’s a touch 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.
The optional ProPILOT system helps make the X-Trail both more relaxing to drive and a touch safer, too. It’ll accelerate, brake and even steer for you on motorways and in stop/start traffic – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.