What's the used Nissan X-Trail 4x4 like?
While the marketing types who came up with the Nissan X-Trail’s name were clearly trying to emphases this seven-seat SUV’s four-wheel-drive capabilities, the reality of the matter is that the toughest terrain most X-Trails will ever face is the ‘rock crawl’ up the kerb in the local high street.
That’s because it’s a road-biased large SUV, aimed at families who would like a bit of extra space and the additional versatility this type of car can provide. To that end, you can get the X-Trail with either five or seven seats, although it’s worth noting that if you choose the latter configuration, the third row seats are a little on the small side and will require you to slide the middle row forward if you need to fit people with legs of any significance into them. Smaller children will be okay back there for shorter journeys, though.
Those rearmost seats can be made to fold completely flat, which is very helpful if you need to load longer items into the back of the car. However, rivals such as the Kia Sorento have bigger boots with the second-row still in place, which means the X-Trail might not be ideal if you want to carry five people and their luggage at the same time.
The X-Trail's interior materials have a quality feel to them due to the use of soft touch plastics throughout. It be a little gloomy inside, though, thanks to the rather sombre colour choices. Things can be brightened up a little with a panoramic glass roof, but we have to advise caution here, as it robs a bit of head room, even for those in the middle row.
As for the driving experience, the X-Trail trails its rivals. The 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel unit has enough power to breeze you along at a leisurely pace and hang on to the coattails of motorway traffic, but it’s definitely not the sprightliest SUV out there; for similar money, some of the X-Trail’s rivals come with peppier diesels. The more powerful 2.0-litre diesel has better low-end pulling power but it’s quite a bit more expensive. The 1.6 petrol is the least recommendable engine. It makes less noise under load than the diesels, but it lacks their low-down grunt, forcing you to rev it harder.
The soft suspension means the X-Trail leans heavily in corners, and while light steering makes it relaxing to drive around town, you do need lots of lock, even for shallow corners. To be honest, the X-Trail feels somewhat behind the times; akin to an old-school SUV rather than the modern breed, which feel more car-like to drive. The Kodiaq is certainly a nimbler beast, as is the 5008.
Even the Land Rover Discovery Sport grips harder and rolls less through corners, and the firm ride means you feel the bumps as they pass beneath you, while you're shaken from side to side at lower speeds. The ride does settle a little the faster you go, though, so on the motorway you'll be fine.
Overall, the X-Trail is not a bad choice by any means, but there are more accomplished rivals in this hotly contested market.